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.