Series: White People Homework: The Cost (9)

The emotional, spiritual, education, and economic costs of racism are complex, chaotic, and connected. But there are verifiable receipts to these costs, and if I was a better statistician or social mathematician perhaps I could write with more scholarly credibility. But I do know the data are available, and historically white people have ignored these costs to others, themselves, and future generations. It costs billions to clean up fractured lives, and it can’t possibly cost as much to build sustainable, equitable lives for us all. Think about the amount of money and conscious choice it takes for Republicans to maintain their racists infrastructure of voter suppression. Think of the economic health of our nation if we ended racism and racist practices in law, civil interactions, and upheld our principals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This post provides links to articles and data regarding the economic cost of racism.

The economic impact of racism is nearly immeasurable. Life is precious and priceless, yet we treat each other as commodities. And the enslavement of people in our own nation is a sin that demands reparations.

Read these articles and consider using them in a Socratic Seminar, argumentative reading resources, etc. Ask students if they think racist policies and practices in this country have affected them, either by privilege, benefit or disadvantage.

One of the costs of racism in American society by Michelle Singletary

The economic impact of racism by Michelle Singletary

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehesi Coates


Why should students know their rights? What if their rights are violated? What does that cost them in time, emotional and mental health, money, and opportunities? How do students advocate for themselves and others safely?

Anti-racist work for white educators: prioritize understanding how this looks like in your own classes and your relationships with students:

Finally, consider the economic costs of trauma. Racism and violence cause trauma. While trauma and injuries are not always connected with racism and racism violence, it is clearly a portion of the costs represented in the $671 billion dollar figure.

From the Center for National Trauma Research

Childhood exposure to trauma costs society $458 billion annually

There are real, calculated costs to racism. Racism and systemic racism props up wealthy white people. It maintains their vast wealth. It maintains their infrastructure of police protections and brutality. If we continue to work toward a more just nation and world, always consider the money: who benefits, and who seeks to maintain the status quo. And speak directly to that with your voice, power, votes, and information.