The Federal Reserve is evolving and moving away from being a tight-lipped institution on social issues to one that weighs in on things that affect the economy — such as systemic racism, income inequality and disparities in the job market.
Two days after George Floyd died in police custody and videos of his murder circulated around the world, a Federal Reserve Bank president publicly denounced police brutality.
Most Fed officials are not active on social media. Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, posted on Twitter that Floyd’s killing showed “institutional racism that is actively taught and reinforced.”
“What’s most shocking to me about the video of George Floyd is not only that he was killed helplessly by police officers. It is that they knew they were surrounded by witnesses and being taped. They never blinked. They never hesitated,” Kashkari tweeted.
Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Fed’s only Black policymaker, also criticized systemic U.S. racism after the George Floyd protests started against police brutality.
“It is time for this cycle to stop,” Bostic wrote. “It is time for us to collectively embrace the promise of an inclusive America, one where everyone can participate fully. We are each being challenged to rise to this occasion through education and action. All of us, especially our white allies, must learn the history of systemic racism and the ways it continues to manifest in our lives today. Furthermore, we all must reflect on what we can do to effect change at every turn.
“A commitment to an inclusive society also means a commitment to an inclusive economy,” Bostic wrote. “Such an economy would represent a rebuke of systemic racism and other exclusionary structures.”
In a New York Times interview, Kashkari talked about why the video footage of Floyd being killed by the Minneapolis police felt so different from other footage he’s seen of Black men being killed by the police.
“It felt so different to me because you could see, there were witnesses standing around the police officers and the police officers didn’t care. They were so confident in what they were doing, they were sending a message, that we’re not doing anything wrong,” Kashkari said. “I think I’ve just learned — if we don’t speak out about what we’re seeing, if everyone doesn’t speak out about what they’re seeing, then nothing changes.”
Twitter users responded with similar realizations of their own. “The cop who put Eric Garner on a choke hold waved at the people who were filming the incident. He knew nothing was going to happen to him,” MaKin tweeted @KiarKini.
Racism holds the economy back, Kashkari said.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
“Racism is an undercurrent of the status quo, and then, you have huge chunks of our population who are not getting a good education, who do not have good job opportunities,” he said. “There are big chunks of our population whose innate human capital is basically being squandered because they are not getting an education that enables them to take advantage of their natural talents and gifts. That not only hurts them, that hurts all of us. It hurts our society and our economy.”
The Fed has a big role to play by using its economic research capabilities to analyze issues using the best data and evidence, and make policy recommendations that other policymakers can implement, Kashkari said. “The Fed has a big role to play, even if it’s outside of monetary policy, because people trust us as honest researchers.”
Kashkari has pushed for legislation that would make quality education a right in Minnesota, NY Times reported. The Minneapolis Fed is also conducting an analysis of the impact of a local minimum wage increase, he said.
It was as if they were saying: this is what we’ve been trained to do. We are trained to use deadly force against black men. And if they die, it’s their own fault for being in that situation. It indicates institutional racism that is actively taught and reinforced. #GeorgeFloyd— Neel Kashkari (@neelkashkari) May 27, 2020
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