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For the past two months, we have all read and seen the glaring issues affecting people of color. Latino and African Americans are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 due to underlying health issues. We must acknowledge that 95% of Latino and African American businesses have not benefited from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) because small, minority-owned businesses remain underserved by mainstream lenders. And to compound matters, the death of George Floyd and many other black men and women who lose their lives at home and on the streets at the hands of police all point to long term systemic racial and social injustice.
I have been sitting on the sidelines, believing that in 2020 much progress had been made, but I have been woefully wrong. The reality is that more than ever, low-income Latino and African Americans are without sick leave, health insurance, savings, affordable housing, and social support greatly needed. People of color work in domestic, food service, transportation, health care, and other essential service jobs that are at highest risk of catching the coronavirus. Discrimination still exists and we are a more divided nation than ever before.
Today, brown and black people remain oppressed, disrespected, undervalued, and discarded. In Austin, 57% African Americans and 58% of Latinos are liquid asset poor. Thirty-four (34%) percent of Austin African Americans and 29% of Latino households have zero net worth. A ZERO net worth is unacceptable.
As the CEO of BCL of Texas, a statewide economic development firm, I am committed more than ever to advocate economic inclusion and social change. BCL will remain focused on closing the economic disparity gap of African American and Latino families by providing much needed affordable capital to our SMB (small minority businesses) and by helping families of color build assets and emergency savings that can help withstand disaster situations and advocating for livable wage. BCL must to stand strong together and work harder for a promise of racial and economic equality.
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