I-CSI WORKING GROUP
The motivation for this working group is to transform the landscape of ideas and push the boundaries of political action as our nation’s urban communities continue to battle the policy failures of recent decades. The crises of lead poisoning of its water supply and the anteceding impacts of disinvestment and long-standing deep poverty in places like Flint, Michigan, together with the police killings of black and brown men and women in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, and beyond have brought to the fore enduring structures of racial, economic, and spatial inequality and the utter inadequacies of extant policy to deal with them. More troubling still, a half century has passed since we have had any new conceptual frame or policy agenda for dealing with racialized poverty (e.g. “War on Poverty”).
How do we understand the causes and consequences of racialized and concentrated poverty in the 21st century? What are new frameworks to help name and resolve the “Flints and Fergusons” in America? How does the failure of the state as well as corporate power contribute to circumstances such as Flint or Ferguson? Is there a way to conceptualize reparations as a part of the solution and what is an overarching “Urban Reconstruction” agenda for the 21st century? What opportunities and challenges do we need to account for given the new political reality in which we find ourselves? Finally, what are the new campaigns, constituencies, cultural work, and coalition constructions required for this moment? These questions demand a new multi-dimensional understanding of racialized poverty and injustice, including new frameworks and strategies to advance racial and economic justice and prosperity.
We propose to do just that by bringing together a cohort of religious leaders, advocates and activists, scholarly experts who are leaders in their respective fields and have already done tremendous work related to racialized poverty, disinvestment, and predation.
This gathering will be transformative in several respects. Most importantly, it crosses the aisles that often divide academics from faith leaders, activists from writers and policy entrepreneurs. We aim to generate new ideas, concepts, and research and policy agendas to understand and undo concentrated poverty. But we also envisage creating a space for a marriage between the innovative ideas of thought leaders with the pragmatics of organizing that takes place on the ground. By providing an entrepreneurial space for imagination and collaboration, we hope to arrive at “deep strategic breakthroughs” that are needed to confront enduring poverty and predation.
This working group is by invitation only.