A report released last month by the Kansas Center for Economic Growth highlights the need to consider the solutions needed to make the Kansas economy more accessible for people of color.
“The changing demographics across the state really shows a need to address the barriers that are facing Kansans of color,” said Emily Fetsch with the Kansas Center for Economic Growth .”By 2050, it’s estimated that people of color in Kansas will make up nearly 40 percent of the population. If we’re not doing the work to identify the barriers facing Kansans of color and figuring out what solutions can help every Kansan thrive, we’re not properly preparing our state.”
The three areas highlighted in the report are economic, education and health barriers. The economic portion has its roots in Kansas past.
“Economic barriers for Kansans of color really are grounded in historical, systemic racism,” said Fetsch. “You see that in differences in wealth accumulation that can be traced back to policies like redlining that made it harder for Kansans of color to build wealth through home ownership.”
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was designed to prevent such practices, but it’s still tough for Kansans of color to make up the difference, which is where policymakers can help.
“Policies that we talk about in the report that we know would help all Kansans, but particularly would help kind of close some of these, or address some of these barriers for Kansans of color, are policies like paid family leave, access to high-quality early education and addressing infant and maternal health,” Fetsch said.
Medicaid expansion would also assist Kansans of color in making ends meet, as it would allow parents and kids better access to health care, regardless of where they live.
The interview with Emily Fetsch is below.