Monthly Archives: November 2015

Does it Matter?

I wrote this keeping in mind all of the recent locations and people we have met that are champions and heroes that are leading the battles our communities are facing each and every day.

 

Does it Matter?child homeless

Does it matter that mothers are afraid to send their children out to play?

Does it matter we treat another shooting as just another day?

Does it matter that we turn our heads away

As someone is being beaten or stolen away?

Does it matter whether we know them or care enough

To draw attention when others are being too rough?

 

A homeless man sits covered in snow early on March 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. A messy Monday is in store for millions along the East Coast, with winter weather advisories warning of a mixture of snow and rain for Washington, DC, Philadelphia, metropolitan New York and parts of northeast New Jersey. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Does it matter that the cold weather will be blowing in soon,

And some people are trying to figure out which underpass to call home?

Does it matter that these people try their best not to steal,

But can’t figure out another way to get their child a meal?

Does it matter that these same children, with parents trying their best,

Are expected to study, stay focused, and especially pass the test?

 

Homeless_2_-_Rosie_O'Beirne

Does it matter that the guy who sits in the alley

You know the one – he makes weird noises and calls you “Pally”

Tonight starts the weekend and everything’s closed

So he’ll make his way to the emergency room ‘cause it’s all he knows.

His demons chase him all day and all night

He’s lonely, he’s afraid, and by the way, he’s losing his sight.

 

83EC1784-8031-4192-90A0-95279D887DEE

Does it matter that there are people out there

Who just want to help … they really do care?

Does it matter that money and funding of programs to help

All too often gets shuffled or stuck in “red tape?”

It’s no longer time to sit back and get angry,

Find it in yourself to ask, “Does it matter?”

 

By Signe Lambertsen

Gender Wage Gap: Bad for Everyone

 

Source: forbes.com

On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act. It was hailed as an important first step in achieving gender equality in the workplace.

JFK signs the Equal Pay Act.
JFK signs the Equal Pay Act.

52 years later, women are still making less than men. In 2015, a woman working full-time makes approximately 79 percent of what a man makes.

At its current rate, the gap won’t close for another 43 years. Waiting for the year 2058 to come around is a bad idea. The gender wage gap is an issue that affects everyone.

We all have a mom. Others have aunts, sisters, girlfriends, wives, or friends who are women.

Gender wage gap by ethnicity.

If you care about these people, then you should care about the gender wage gap.

The issue, however, goes beyond a personal level.

Women account for 80 percent of all Medicaid recipients, and 70 percent of all Welfare recipients, according to economist, Heidi Hartmann. Equal pay would allow women to become less reliant on governmental assistance.

It could even create an added incentive for women to join the workforce.

A 2011 McKinsey & Company study examined the vast benefits the American economy could earn from women.

The study showed the American economy would be approximately 25 percent smaller if women were not a part of the workforce.

A very slow increase.

That sounds impressive, but it should be even larger.

Seventy-six percent of all women aged 25-54 are in the workforce. That same statistic is currently 87 percent in Sweden.

The economy would grow by 3-4 percent if America’s average could rise to just 84 percent. 3-4 percent may not sound like much, but don’t be fooled.

The American economy grew 2.4 percent in 2014. This was America’s largest economic growth since the Great Recession.

The numbers don’t lie. Americans of all genders and ethnicities would benefit greatly from equal pay.

Arguing against gender income inequality would be a disservice to the “American Dream” we all know and love.


 

By: Jackson Rioux

“Atlas is a Sista”

Color Female Atlas

It has been said that “two wrongs don’t make a right” and in the inequality paradigm this statement can not be truer. Being female in a male dominated society is a incredible load to bare so, just add to this being a non-white female in a white male dominated society. This may feel sometimes like two wrongs that aren’t treated right.

The Word-Sword can only imagine the incredible  weight upon the shoulders of this hereto fore unrepresented group demographic. Being only relegated to existing on the peripheral of society yet, serving that self-Female Atlassame society as sometimes little more than chattel. Black,brown, yellow, and red women traditionally have served to quietly carry much of the weight of this country by feeding, mending, cleaning, and otherwise servicing (literally and figuratively) its “majority” populace. If you doubt this just imagine how early (and sometimes even modern) America would function without house-cleaners, maids, nannies, laundry workers, hairdressers, and  the other multitude of menial labor that “minority” women provided. This was even before we account for the social, industrial, and educational innovations that were birthed by this women.

Should there even be a question of whether there should be equality in compensation for services rendered by females in general and “minority” females in specific? While pondering that question one might wish to woman_in_chains_by_alexandramac-d37swqkconsider that the next time you may need quality medical, educational, or even technical support and expertise provided wouldn’t you expect the best? Well, what if you only get one- third to one- half of the best because that is all that is being paid to those “minority” female service providers as compared to their white counterparts both male and female? Yeah, it ought to be fair.

Black, brown, yellow, and red women are a vital part of the machine that drives this country (along with their white counterparts) so, shouldn’t they receive their equal slice of the American pie. Think about it
In-Chains.

Submitted by Braxton Gray

What can we do about Male/Female Income Inequality?

It is a well known fact that in the United States, women make less than men do on average. While the difference in pay is on a downward trend, the data shows that the change isn’t occurring fast enough. Many people would argue that the gender wage gap does not exist.  Here are some of their arguments, and why they are dead wrong.

  1. Women are paid less because they choose lower paying jobs.
    As a man, I can tell you that when I first heard this argument, it made a lot more sense to me. I figured the data must be skewed because of this reason. It made me feel less guilty, and let me ignore the issue at hand. That was before I was educated on the matter. Let me set the record straight: this claim is completely false. In a recent analysis, it was found that women fresh out of college were offered a starting salary significantly lower than their male counterparts with the same credentials. In any industry–including female dominated ones–men will start with a higher salary than women.
  2. Women lose out on pay raises when they get pregnant.
    Many people argue that women should get paid less if they are not going to be around. In the most extreme example, it was found that if a woman with an MBA takes 18 months off for maternity leave, this would account for about 41% decrease of earnings. Men, are often expected to stay working when having a child, and in many cases are more likely to get promotions because of this factor.
  3. Women are less ambitious so they don’t go after the “big promotions”.
    In general, women are just as hard working and ambitious as men. But, when compared with men who have the exact same experience, job, tenure, and every other quality, they are still 2.9% less likely to get that promotion. Norway is generally considered a more equal country in terms of gender equality, so it is likely to be worse in other countries. This could be, like stated previously, due to the fear that women will take time off for maternity leave, or just an implicit bias against women. Either way, it is not right.

So how can we solve these issues? Well, with a growing technological world, more industries can do all of their work remotely. This opens more opportunities for women to get the same work done from home, even on a maternity leave. Also, a greater social push for paid paternity leavesomething the United States is behind other countries in–would dramatically lower the gender pay gap. Lastly, an increase of women in higher position jobs would eliminate the implicit bias against them, and according to some studies could make businesses do better.

By Nicholas Evangelista

What does Implicit even mean? By Farrah Fontano

As part of class time we were told to take a test that was going to tell us if we were implicitly biased or not. So like all the other people in the class I took the test and my results came back as inconclusive. The test gave me a whole lot of anxiety for really no reason.

We were told to answer as quick as possible and make little to no mistakes. The test asked you to identify a whole bunch of cropped pictures of faces as either African American or European American. So they basically ask you to press a key to identify the cropped face into one of the two categories. If you do it correctly it moves you to the next, if you do it incorrectly it shows you a red X and then you have to correctly identify the face to move on. Then it changes your category to Good or Bad and shows you words like ‘Hurt, Peace, Agony, Joy’ etc. The categories then change to European American or Good and African American or Bad and shows you the same photos. The categories then switch places and ask you to identify again.

I don’t think that this test is a good identifier of race bias. I think that truthfully a lot of people are biased and that bias is a result of who they grew up around and how they were brought up. Do I think i’m biased? No. But does that have anything to do with the test? No.

The Railroad Tracks Do Divide Us.  

How can income and wealth inequality be targeted and solved on a larger scale when towns are focused on building  moats around their assets?

When individuals are focused on their property value rather than veterans, families with children, and individuals like us who are living on the street?

When multiple teachers, firefighters, and police officers cannot afford to live within certain town lines but continue to be the wheels that help support and move the town along?

 

Connecticut has 169 towns.

Only 10 % of these towns offer affordable housing.

Image

Before someone disagrees with affordable housing being built in their neighborhood, they should look at their fears. Most fears are associated with crime, lower property values, noise, and traffic. Yet, research conducted on the towns that have affordable housing found that crime, noise, and traffic did not increase. Schools were able to prosper due to the influx in students and if diversity increased within the school, it was beneficial to the students. Most importantly, property values maintained their value or increased a little.

In today’s society where 30 percent of someone’s paycheck goes toward housing, the place were one resides typically becomes their biggest investment. Unfortunately for some, there is such a thing as exclusionary zoning. Exclusionary zoning is zoning ordinances that keep out certain people from a given community. When there is not enough housing for people who want them, this then makes the price increase. This becomes a problem in expensive towns because as the town solely focuses on having certain groups of people move into it (typically elderly and white) then it can eliminate the town’s ability to be self-sufficient.

Olivia C. Granja

Solar Mama

In the documentary film  Rafea:Solar Mama features a woman named Rafea a Bedouin  in Jordan who seeks to take classes at Barefoot college in India to become proficient in solar energy to bring an energy source to her village. She is one of the few women in her village who can read and faces opposition from the cynical older women and the men. After much deliberation she learns her trade at Barefoot with nearly illiterate women from all over the world. After she comes home it isn’t smooth sailing when she brings a new source of energy. She is berated and scolded by the citizens who remind her not to be too ambitious. The issue in this case is poverty. Poverty leads to dilapidated conditions and and stunted intellectualism. This creates an an environment that doesn’t foster innovation and discourages women pursuing an interest. Women are not expected to desire life outside of their village or the core values from the time they were children. It contributes to the cycle of poverty and ignorance and destroys the possibility of salvation. It’s important to understand why this happens to not  possibly remedy the situation and prevent any overlap in our culture.

Game of Towns: Separate but not Equal

It seems certain John Q. white folks are afraid of the dreaded word…progress. As our guest lecturer, David Fink, Policy Director for the Partnership for Strong Communities, informed us, they have been for some time. Around the late 1970’s, families started to move out of the cities and into what they considered a safer alternative, the suburbs. They felt that the cities were becoming too over-crowded and dangerous. Now that’s all well and good right? People have the right to settle down and raise a family in what they feel is a safe community.

The problem is, once they settled in, they made sure to put an invisible moat up around their town to ensure that who they deemed as “outsiders” (blacks, hispanics, blue-collar folks) weren’t able to infringe upon their land.  They used tactics such as “Exclusionary Zoning”, the utilization of zoning ordinances to keep out certain people from a given community.  For example, say you have an acre of land that’s zoned for housing.  Instead of allowing for multiple housing units that can be rented or sold for affordable prices, these communities wanted developers to build fewer houses on the land to drive up the cost and make it unattainable for lower-income individuals to obtain housing in town.

What they fail to realize is how that tactic will inevitably turn around and bite them in the ass.  As these wealthy residents segregate their town by enforcing stringent zoning regulations, they keep certain profitable industries (corporations, housing unit developers) from wanting to settle in their town and pay them for their land.  Some families may be able to pass their wealth down to future generations to keep hold of their land, but the majority will force their children and grandchildren to look elsewhere because the housing prices within the town make them unattainable at their young age.  With no industry or tax revenue from residents, these towns will have get with the times if they want any chance for survival.

Kevin Hayes

Show me a hero

In Light of Mr. Finks visit to our class I’d like to discuss something I feel is relevant to the topic of inequality.  Let’s take a little trip to the past. In 1987 Federal Judge Leonard Sand issued a desegregation order in Yonkers New York. He commissioned a project that required 200 housing units to be built in the west side(white) of Yonkers. Initial outcry from the public and the city council was negative and pleaded to not move forward with the plan. The fear in their minds was the cost would bankrupt the city and decrease the property value of Yonkers. In the end after much Deliberation the city complied after being fined close to one million dollars. This was due to the council not coming to a decision on the plan and the belief that every reason raised against the project was racially motivated. Even the mayor of Yonkers Nick Wasicsko ran on a platform opposing desegregation flip flopped when in the middle of the massive court fines was told it was going to happen and no action he took was going to change this. The ongoing event was adapted into a book called,”Show me  A hero,” by New York Times writer Lisa Belkin. And it was eventually adapted into an HBO mini series by The Wire and Treme creator David Simon. One interesting scene in the first part of the 6 part event was conversation between a white representative of the local NAACP and an older black member of the chapter. The white member is a young go getter and sees this project as the begginging of something bold and positive for the community. When he asks the older member why he doesn’t share in his enthusiasm he tells him “we’ve been through this game before.” That statement conveys that he has seen systematic racism for years and though it isn’t quite as prevalent as it was during his heyday he is worn out and cynical about the issue. They black community is so bitter and resentful of white people that the prospect of a unified community is laughable. The only way to ensure over arching change is to mandate it, not through a collective understanding of what’s right and wrong but through an financial imposition.

 

Where Will The Middle-Class Go?

Less people are buying houses these days as a result of the increase in home prices. But those who do end up as homeowners are able to prosper because of the equity from their house. As more people rent and less people buy homes, the benefits of owning a residence are going to a smaller select group of people and thus contributing to the wealth inequality in the U.S.

Expensive housing helps spread of economic inequality. Over the past couple of years, the costs of purchasing a house have skyrocketed. In San Francisco, middle-class families are only able to purchase 14 percent of homes located there.  Slowly, the middle-class is disappearing. The distortions in housing ownership by the middle-class and wealthy are due in part to the growing divide in income inequality. As income inequality continues to widen, those with greater wages will be able to buy more when trying to obtain a house. As a result, this intensifies the cost of houses and contributes to the wealth inequality across a town. The high rate of income and house owning costs of New York is an example of this effect.

The concentration of wealthy households in an area segregates social classes and contributes to the erosion of the middle-class. Because of particular schools, jobs, and neighborhoods, families will flock to a particular area and add to that region’s wealth with their income. Unfortunately, other areas are left to languish and worsen as crime and lower housing levels drive people away. This leads to a societal class divide in the town and ultimately a future with an increased economic inequality. Unless something changes, the current housing wealth inequality situation is only going to worsen as concentration of housing wealth increases in the near future.

-Quenton