Is the Federal Budget Racist? The Movement for Black Lives and the Federal Budget

Is our federal budget racist? What would a nonracist federal budget even look like?

Make no mistake: budgets are moral documents. If we look hard at ourselves and our budget choices, we can see that we care too little about black and brown lives here at home, and around the world.

You can look at your state's budget choices - and try out different ones - here.

Earlier this month, the Movement for Black Lives released a “policy platform” – an array of stunning, visionary ideas to right the wrongs that racism has wrought. It's not limited to just police brutality, and even with its clear focus on black lives, it includes proposals that would benefit us all. From ending mass incarceration to implementing reparations and demilitarization, these policy proposals amount to one hefty moral document.

Whose priorities matter in America? What would our country look like if we heeded the call to disinvest from policing and incarceration, and instead invested in creating good jobs? What if we valued lives around the world enough to responsibly divest from the military and instead fund higher education?

Wherever you live, your community is impacted by the choices we make. What would a more moral federal budget look like to you? Maybe something like this:

  • In Missouri, taxpayers contributed $110 million to put people in federal prisons. That could instead have created nearly 1,500 jobs in clean energy.
  • In Ohio, taxpayers contributed $573 million for immigration and border enforcement. That could instead have provided full, four-year college scholarships for nearly 15,000 students.
  • In Florida, taxpayers contributed $34 billion to the Department of Defense.  Cutting that by just one percent could have created more than 3,200 jobs with supports like child care and transportation.

What will the America - and the federal budget - of the 21st century look like? Will our federal budget become a more moral document? Will we break down the structures that keep racism and colonialism intact here and around the world?

We're still writing the history -- all of us, together. To see what a more moral federal budget could look like in your city or state, visit our interactive web tool.