As Americans across the country peeked at their federally stimulated bank accounts last week, Dr. David R. Williams of Harvard University issued an urgent call to action.
As chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Harvard’s public health school, Williams focuses on the effects of discrimination and social influences on health.
“The striking disparities we are seeing are not a result of the families who are experiencing them,” Williams said in a national press briefing. “Instead they are a result of longstanding policies. Coronavirus is highlighting this for us.”
That concept was echoed over and over by historians speaking to Billy Penn about what the federal stimulus funds could mean for communities of color in Philadelphia.
The upshot: unless governments institute specific policies that direct resources to already-disadvantaged communities, they said, the so-called “Trump checks” distributed to mitigate the economic slam of the pandemic will increase already staggering inequality — in the city, across Pennsylvania, and throughout the U.S.
It wouldn’t be the first time federal stimulus policy has helped create inequality, especially in Philadelphia.