Government: a tool for racial justice

While our government has at times exacerbated inequities in American society, it has also been an important lever of change—a protector of fundamental rights and a provider of tools for opportunity and advancement. Both the societal challenges we face and our increasingly diverse society demand that we remedy structural injustices and assert that an explicit goal of a truly representative government is to address inequities and advance equality and justice for all people. Although we have made steady – if fitful – progress in that direction, we need to recommit our nation to building support for an active government role in creating opportunities and reducing inequities.

We must:

Reclaim the notion of government as a tool for racial justice

Lift up the systems that benefit all of us and the need to invest in them equitably

Reinforce our interdependence with one another and our shared fate

In all of our efforts, we must avoid reinforcing unproductive default thinking that leads people to believe that government has no role in promoting racial equity and otherizes our communities. These ways of thinking are among the typical mental constructs that lead people to see a limited role for government in ensuring a robust and equitably funded public sector.


  • Publications: Government: a Tool for Racial Justice

    This memo describes Public Works’ efforts to support our partners in addressing the intersection of race in policy debates, civic engagement, and media outreach.

  • Publications: Race and Government: Reading List

    This is a comprehensive listing of the assorted books, articles, and essays referenced throughout our materials on race and the role of government.

  • Publications: Making the Case for Government's Role in Racial Justice: Annotated Partner Examples

    In this Public Works memo, we highlight four examples of our partners making the case for government’s role in racial justice. These examples come from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, the Center for Social Inclusion, and others.

  • Presentations and Webinars: Government: a Tool for Racial Justice Presentation

    In this slide presentation we will unpack two dominant frames surrounding government’s role in promoting racial equity. We offer steps on how to critique our public systems without undermining them and on creating an inclusive narrative that speaks to our shared fate.

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