The Curb-Cut Effect (Part 2)

with Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink

National General Interest

The American demographic is shifting to a nation where the majority will be people of color. While the population share is on the rise, gaps in education, wealth and more, still exist. How could equity benefit all of our society? Part 2 of a discussion with Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink.  Click here for part 1 of The Curb-Cut Effect.

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See a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: You also write in a pretty groundbreaking report, I´m quoting you…

Blackwell: That´s right.

Traynham: Expand on that.

Blackwell: The notion is that when we solve problems from the standpoint of those people who are most vulnerable, everybody benefits. The classic example is the curb cut. You see it in streets all across this country. They´re there because of the advocacy of people with disabilities in wheelchairs. But the truth of the matter is, people pushing strollers, workers pushing carts, pulling wagons, people traveling, parents worried about their young bike riders not riding in the street, all benefit because of those curb cuts.

Traynham: What you´re referring to is the A.D.A. piece of legislation, Americans With Disabilities Act, that President George H.W. Bush signed into law. And that curb cut, if you will, is what Angela is referring to.

Blackwell: That´s right.

Traynham: And what about that 85-year-old senior citizen who perhaps maybe had a knee replacement but cannot maybe step up on that step. That curb cut also helps that person, as well.

Blackwell: That´s right. You solve a problem for one group, authentically, effectively, and everybody benefits. It´s the same thing, investing in people of color. I´m enthusiastic about the change. I see it as an asset. I see it as a positive. But if the nation doesn´t see that asset, we have a bleak future in front of us. Because the truth of the matter is, if people of color don´t become the middle class, there will be no middle class. By concentrating on people of color, not only will we benefit them, but the business community will thrive, democracy will thrive, the nation will stand strong on the global stage. We will find that the entire nation will benefit. It´s this country´s worries about what´s happening to people who are white and working class. If you paid attention to what was happening with people who were black or Latino working class, we would have addressed that problem. So that the curb cut effect says, “Pay attention to the ones who need the impact most.” Do it effectively, authentically, and at scale, and the benefits cascade out. The economic benefits in this country do not trickle down, they cascade out, and that´s what I hope the nation will see before it is too late.

Traynham: Angela, we have about 45 seconds left, to the person that´s watching this program now, perhaps on social media, perhaps in the comforts and the privacy of their home, and they´re thinking something a little bit differently. Perhaps maybe they´re thinking, “I don´t look like Angela, I don´t look like Robert, but I´m afraid, I´m scared. I´m scared for my own economic well being. I´m afraid of where this country is going.” What is your one key message to that person that´s watching the program now.

Blackwell: The demographic shift is inevitable. It´s going to happen. Let´s make the best of it, and it will be easy to make the best of it because if we invest in the people who will be the future, the future will be strong. Do not be afraid. Embrace the change. Support the policies that impact education and access to good jobs and healthy neighborhoods and transit systems that connect everybody to all the opportunities in the region, and we all will feel that benefit.

Traynham: And, Angela, for the curious person that´s watching the program that wants to learn more about PolicyLink, or perhaps to read your groundbreaking study, where can they go?

Blackwell: Go to Policylink.org.

Traynham: Angela Blackwell, thank you very much for joining us.

Blackwell: Thank you.

Traynham: And thank you for joining us for this edition of “Comcast Newsmakers.”I’m Robert Traynham. Have a great day, everybody.We´ll see you next time. Bye bye.