Martin Luther King Jr. Day challenges each of us to confront the racial and economic inequality of our time. Geography, income, and race stubbornly and persistently shape opportunities for too many Massachusetts families. The census tract in which a child grows up should not predict whether that child goes to medical school or to prison.
Government must commit to addressing these challenges. I’ll be an Attorney General who will fight to ensure access to opportunity and to dismantle the root causes of economic injustice and inequality.
Black and Latino children are far more likely to grow up in neighborhoods with extraordinarily high rates of poverty, and attend schools with fewer resources, poorer student performance and lower graduation rates. Children in communities of color are also more likely to experience higher rates of diseases like asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
A recent Northeastern University study noted significant racial disparities in commuting times within Boston. Public transportation is often unavailable to our lowest-paid night shift workers.
When a workplace is inaccessible, so is a job. We need a public transportation policy that creates opportunities for employment, not furthers barriers.
Because low-income borrowers, many black and Hispanic, were more likely to receive sub-prime and high-cost loans, the impact of the lending crisis and subsequent foreclosures has been particularly hard felt in the state’s poorest neighborhoods. We have cleared out some of the bad actors making those loans, but more work remains to ensure healthy communities. We need a housing policy that stabilizes neighborhoods, and supports families by stopping unnecessary foreclosures and investing in low-income communities. We need an Attorney General fighting every day to uphold and enforce laws that protect our neighborhoods.
On too many job sites across Massachusetts, unscrupulous bosses don’t pay workers what they are owed. When some workers get cheated, it not only burdens their families, it also lowers the bargaining power of every other worker in our state. We need a fair labor enforcement policy that makes sure that those who work for a living can earn a living.
For me, these are civil rights issues and as your next Attorney General, I will take them on.
By next Martin Luther King Jr. Day, our state will have elected several new officeholders. The voters should demand that each commits to addressing these inequalities.
Maura Healey served as Chief of the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office from 2007-2012. She is a candidate for Attorney General.
Massachusetts has a history of A’sG that have advocated strong policy positions from the office of the Attorney General. Scott Harshbarger acted on consumer protection and “good government.” Francis X. Bellotti was known for his work protecting civil rights and interestingly he defended the commonwealth’s law that restricted corporations spending money to influence – one of the precursors to Citizens United.
The office has a fundamental role in Consumer Protection. And the following statement seems to be 100% accurate.
I am a bit confused however, about how an AG can impact transportation policy? Is that a stretch? What about the inequality in the state with access to broadband and high speed internet that continues to be a factor in the third tier economy of western MA and other portions of the state? What about the enormous disparity in the chronically low – bottom of the barrel, public health indicators for Hampden County and points further away from Boston? Are there socioeconomic factors not being targeted with the necessary resources to establish equitable access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by the legislature and Governors of the Commonwealth that need AG review and intervention? Could legislators from a specific region partner with an AG to compel the state to fund interventions to extinguish the geographically under-served?
Large swaths of regions outside of metro Boston have no public transportation – let alone night service.
What can an AG realistically and statutorily target and change?
Hey Heartlanddem, thanks for reading and writing.
I agree these are important issues in the race and I’ll be talking more about them here and on the stump throughout the campaign. The bottom line is that access to opportunity is an issue in urban and rural communities, and if you’re going to work, get to a hospital for needed care, or even get to school or community college, your ability to do so is directly impacted by transportation access. I’m not suggesting that the Attorney General alone can tackle this, but the Attorney General can be a partner and an advocate.
In addition to supporting a public policy approach that seizes on opportunities, identifies where there are gaps and where those gaps might infringe on civil rights across the board, the Attorney General can be a partner as you suggest with legislators and others to better ensure that areas under-served get the resources they need. Specific to transportation, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations and guidance, are measures to address disparities.
Whether it’s disparities in public health outcomes, disparities in transportation, education, access to banking, insurance, the list goes on, there are both laws to enforce and public policy to promote and I’ll look to do that as AG. The Attorney General’s office is the chief law enforcement office, but my career there and the issues I’ve worked on show it can and should be an office which impacts policy as well as law.
We worked with Apple to open up access to technology for people with disabilities, we worked with local communities and schools to combat bullying, we fashioned the arguments which eventually struck down DOMA, we shined a spotlight on the drivers of health care costs in Massachusetts and stood up to polluters and predatory lenders.
The AG’s office touches every facet of life in the Commonwealth, every sector of the economy. That’s why we need an experienced Attorney General who knows the office, knows the issues and will continue its nation-leading professionalism and advocacy on issues important to us all.
I look forward to seeing you on the trail….