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Tackling racism from within

Challenging racist assumptions and practices in the economics profession

For All Spring 2021 | April 14, 2021


Alyssa Augustine Senior Public Relations Program Manager
Racism and the Economy first event key graphic
Tackling racism from within

On Memorial Day 2020, America was hurled into a reckoning with racism. Thousands took to the streets—amid a global pandemic—to protest the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Black and Brown people engage with the criminal justice system at higher rates than Whites and often face more severe consequences. But it is not the only institution tangled in racism’s tentacles.

Days after Floyd’s death, Institute advisor and Howard University Professor William Spriggs wrote an open letter to economists, imploring his colleagues to consider the role racism plays not only in their empirical assumptions but also in their profession. “Their training as economists has let them silently accept lots of ‘givens’ they now understand should not be presumed,” Spriggs wrote.

Economists inform and shape policymaking processes in fundamental ways. Race and economic outcomes are intertwined, and yet “the overwhelming majority of explorations of racial disparities in economic outcomes remains deeply tied to [the] view of race as an exogenous variable.” For Spriggs, it is high time to eliminate the “othering” of Black people by economists, both within their ranks and in their research.

Similarly moved, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, alongside Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, launched “Racism and the Economy,” a series of conferences designed to explore the effects of and solutions to institutionalized racism.

This spring, the Institute joined the series to organize a conversation on racism in economics. Guided by Director Abigail Wozniak, participants examined the ways racism persists in the field. From conditions influencing the professional pipeline to assumptions about race, panelists thoroughly examined the mechanisms enabling racism in the discipline.

To watch a recording of the event and learn more, go to

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Alyssa Augustine
Senior Public Relations Program Manager

Alyssa Augustine is the Minneapolis Fed’s senior public relations manager. In this role, she coordinates all media relations for President Neel Kashkari and other Bank leaders. An experienced TV journalist, Alyssa also contributes articles to our website and publications. She holds a B.A. in media studies from Fordham University and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Washington.