The brief promotes the importance of racial equity in Michigan for the business community. Created in 2015, it first explains the importance of a “high-quality workforce” in order for the state to do well in the “next economy” (p.1). It then notes that 24% of the state’s residents are people of color, and that people of color in the state face racism and other barriers that make it challenging for the state to have “success in the increasingly global economy” (p2). “Unfortunately, the average child of color in Michigan is born into a path of poorer health, lower educational attainment, fewer employment opportunities, and greater involvement with the criminal justice system than the average white child. Given the demographic trends already underway, reducing racial inequities will not only improve life outcomes for those most affected, it will increasingly determine the state’s overall economic performance” (p.1). The brief provides “20 facts about racial and ethnic inequities in Michigan” (p.3) that show the barriers caused by racism. This demographic information includes statistics that reveal racial disparities in the areas of health, employment, and education. It follows these with “estimates of the economic benefits of greater racial equity in Michigan” (p.5). These estimates show the increases in tax revenues and savings due to the reduced use of corrections and other programs that might occur if racial equity was achieved in Michigan.
The brief notes that racial equity should be important for the business community because, “With greater racial equity, disparities in health, educational achievement, incarceration rates, and employment opportunities diminish, improving life outcomes and building a healthier, more productive workforce whose skills better align with future needs… All these positive outcomes will help Michigan attract more people and greater private investment, further improving the state’s growth outlook” (p.2).(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
The brief concludes by recommending “promising policies and approaches to improving racial equity” (p.6). It explains that “the racial and ethnic inequities witnessed today are longstanding and will not disappear without sustained commitment, but there are effective approaches being implemented in Michigan that are already advancing this goal” (p.6). Over 10 policies are promoted, most focusing on education, the environment, health, and criminal justice, including the following: • “Many communities in Michigan supplement federal or state programs such as GSRP, Head Start, and Early Head Start with additional targeted programs. The Battle Creek Early Childhood Connections program provides Welcome Baby Baskets, home visits, and playgroups for families with children ages 0–5” (p.6). • “Hundreds of local initiatives throughout Michigan target environmental factors critical to good health, including urban gardening and local food initiatives, lead paint testing and remediation, monitoring and cleanup of air and water quality, and development and maintenance of green space and recreational facilities to promote healthy living and childhood play” (p.6). • “Acknowledging our high corrections spending, Michigan is one of several states that have begun to focus on reducing incarceration. The goal is for ‘tough on crime’ to become ‘smart on crime.’ Michigan initiatives to reduce incarceration include reducing mandatory drug sentences, increasing parole grants and reducing technical revocations, and enhancing community corrections programming” (p.6). • “The Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project is a 5-year initiative to increase educational attainment and employment opportunities for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated” (p.7). The brief concludes by explaining that “greater racial equity can be promoted by the choices that we make each day as individuals and by the policies that we support through our institutions and our governments. Progress may also require strategic investments of time and resources” (p.7). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)