Policy Article

Confronting Our Racist Exclusions: The Role of States in Repairing, Reimagining and Reconstituting the Social Contract

Confronting Our Racist Exclusions: The Role of States in Repairing, Reimagining and Reconstituting the Social Contract

Almas Sayeed

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The dual crises of the Coronavirus pandemic and Black-led uprisings catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd and many others cast a spotlight on the failure of the systems in place to support communities of color. This failure raises many questions about the resilience of the country’s health and economic systems. It also prompts deep questions about the utility and meaning of the social contract, giving new life to a question traditionally debated by philosophers and now more broadly by organizers and cultural commentators: is the social contract broken? This paper considers the value of the social contract through one implied use – the country’s safety net system – and examines recent California campaigns to close benefit exclusions aimed at undocumented adults. The paper argues that states can play a key role in addressing historically racist safety net exclusions and are central to the value and utility of the social contract. 

Deputy Director of Programs, California Immigrant Policy Center. 

Cite this article:

Almas Sayeed

,

Confronting Our Racist Exclusions: The Role of States in Repairing, Reimagining and Reconstituting the Social Contract

, 39 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 593 (2021).