Category Archives: Inequality

….Not Tonight!

By Braxton Gray, aka Word Sword

Source: Tim Wise.com
Source: Tim Wise.com

If ever there was a time in life that the Word-Sword wad wished that he was white, it was defiantly not on this previous Thursday night at Memorial Hall at Central Connecticut State University. What could make me so fearful as to renounce ever sharing that hollowed privilege even for one night? Well, it was on this night that the guest speaker for the Bridging The Gap event, Tim Wise, called white folks to task for crimes (real and imagined) against people of color.

Source: Tim Wise.com
Source: Tim Wise.com

Wise spoke a brand of  truth to a group of people (some of which had either never heard of cared to hear about it) that not only raised their coattails but spanked their asses in a sometimes graphic nature. Wise spoke about racial, gender, and wealth inequalities — such as how and why black people are fearful of the police. The things that  Wise spoke of should be  familiar to readers of these past posts submitted by the Word-Sword. We have been investigating these topics since this blog’s inception: inequality in employment and pay, opportunities in education, choice of residence, inequality in incarceration and arrest, and the list goes on.

Wise spoke for the still heretofore “invisible” men and women (some of whom look like him) who remain voiceless even while shouting because the

Source: Tim Wise.com
Source: Tim Wise.com

privileged have closed their ears.

Wise spoke the words for people such as previous guest speaker and fellow activist, Bishop Selders (who was arrested again today for protesting in Hartford) These people try to get white folks to, as motion picture The Matrix exhorts,  “take the red pill’ and wake up to the , way this country conducts its business. Wake up to the inequality that Donald Trump and the 1 percent don’t and won’t talk about. Wake up to equitable ways to distribute the vast wealth of this land of ours (all of ours from the Native Americans to the newly arrived refugees whom may be of a different religion).

Wise spoke for the Black Women not asked to speak for themselves, for the Black kids receiving a lead “Christmas present” from his local law enforcement “protector.” Wise spoke for the nights and days that lie between now and true equality.

Source: Tim Wise.com

Source: Tim Wise.com

 

 

Dear fellow bloggers,

article-0-1AE9E648000005DC-23_634x423“Admit that you do not know what you do not know, and then listen to the people who do.” I don’t know about you, but I have a VERY hard time admitting stuff that I don’t know. But Tim Wise does have a  good point, how can we as a country fix all the wrong circulating when we wont even admit that there is anything wrong to fix?

This year’s Bridging the Gap event was about income inequality through the prism of race. As Wise said, we won’t have to have this conversation anymore when a woman of color, particularly a working class queer woman of color, can give the same speech he did and be taken just as seriously as he was.

I have to admit when I heard   Wise would be speaking, I thought to myself, what is this white, 40-something-year-old man going to tell me about racism and inequality? But I went there with an open mind and I’m glad I did, because everything he said was not only true, but  was extremely eye-opening.

Wise said ‘the problem is that if you don’t take the class, you never know.’ If you never take a geometry class, you will never know geometry. So the issue here is that the members of the dominant group never had to take the class. Take me: I’m a 21-year old white female from a middle class family. I grew up in a predominantly white town. Honestly, from kindergarten to my senior year of high school, I probably knew about 15 African American kids. I never had to take the class. I don’t know what it’s like to not be in the dominant group. I don’t know anywhere near the inequality that some people live through every day, and exactly as  Wise said, they don’t teach us this stuff in school.

The only inequality I knew from the time I was born until high school was when the boys’ football team wouldn’t let me play with them, even though I was light years better than 80 percent of the team. Yeah, I was upset and felt not good enough, but that doesn’t come close to what some people are dealing with on a day to day basis, and it’s sad that some people are completely oblivious to this.

One of Wise’s points particularly  stuck with me: Cheerleading  for your country is NOWHERE near the same as CARING for it. So to quote Wise one last time:

“When white folks ask black folks ‘When are ya’ll going to get over slavery?’ I don’t know maybe when ya’ll get over the Fourth of July. Because that shit happened a long time ago. We did not break away from the British last Tuesday; that is some really old stuff. And acting as if something that happened over 230 years ago is something still worth talking about every single year, see we like to remember the stuff that makes us feel good, we just don’t want to deal with the ugly.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Wise was right, and smart, and exactly as his name says, wise. I learned a lot listening to him speak, and I’m ready for that day to come when that queer working class woman of color gives her speech. I’ll be there with my notebook and voice recorder. Will you?

Xoxo,

Your friendly neighborhood white kid living in Snapchat Nation

Stop lying to yourself

Stop-Telling-White-Lies-Step-4By Olivia C. Granja

Welcome to Snapchat nation, where any problem, thought, feeling, or inequality will be forgotten in less than ten seconds.

The  thought  that racism ended with the election of President Barack Obama in 2009, is incorrect and needs to come to an end. Racism is still a huge part of the society and will continue to be if action is not taken. It is not one’s fault that they were raised within a system of lies, but it is now their responsibility to create change.

Only 10 percent of Connecticut’s 169 towns offers affordable housing.

A shockingly low percentage when statistics show African American families are three times more likely to grow up poor.

In today’s society where 30 percent of someone’s paycheck goes toward housing, it is very important that the place were one resides typically is their biggest investment.

Exclusionary zoning affects people of color directly and drastically. Exclusionary zoning is zoning ordinances that keep out certain people from a given community. These ordinances can create white dominant towns and prevent children of color from attending superior schools — thus impacting their educational career as well as social upbringing.

African Americans are five to nine times more likely to be incarcerated than whites and four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. That totals to 160,000 African Americans being arrested a year in the United States. This incarnation rate does not represent a “War on Drugs” yet represents a war on people of a certain race and economic status. This war is resulting in 1.6 million African Americans with a criminal record, who have lost the opportunity to vote, certain housing options, employment prospects, and education benefits.

Stop scapegoating. People of color cannot be considered “lazy” and “job stealers” at the same time. This is not about white people but about whiteness as a system of thought or behavior. A typical white dropout makes TWICE the net worth than an African American college graduate. Yet, white people are far less likely to see the discrepancies between the races. Implicit bias plays a  role in their inability to see the reality of the facts. Implicit Bias is an attitude or belief that is outside of the conscious awareness or control. There are also certain luxurious that come when one is a part of a dominant group. The main luxury is being oblivious. When one is considered “normal” in society, they often don’t get labeled or think about how they don’t belong.

It is time to stop pretending to be colorblind but instead be color aware. This is not about politics (democratic or republican) but it is about justice for all. These issues are imbedded within the society and great bounds must still be accomplished to see drastic change. One cannot stay still on this moving train or they will have no say in where they end up.

Doing the math at Walmart

By Treamell Lawrence

walmart-subsidy-1Tim Wise, an anti-racism activist and writer who spoke at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, mentioned that every incident has a predicate.

Income inequality affects more  minorities because the ugly truth is the dominant whites always have  benefits.  Powerful conservative forces are the protectors of the status quo and insist that wealth stays in the hands of the private sector and wealthy class.  They oppose government policies and programs that hint at the redistribution of public and private resources to benefit Blacks.

Wise argued that we are living in a Snapchat nation because most whites want to forget about slavery and other harmful things done to minorities.  Wise illustrated the world we live by comparing it to the movie The Matrix based on Neo’s decision to take the blue pill which represented a simulated comfortable world or the red pill which represented the real world of physical and emotional abuse based on their uniqueness.

Wise explained that the mainstream media is sometimes part of the simulated world when they misrepresent those who combat income inequality, Black poverty or police brutality.  For example, in my previous blog I mentioned Bishop John Selders, Jr. who is a part of Black Lives Matter.  Fox News may label Bishop John Selders  a bigot and frame Black Lives Matter as an unstable, dangerous group when they are an activist group protesting against the mistreatment of Black Americans and police brutality.

Wise he informed his fellow Wwite Americans that the reason  Black Americans are afraid of the police is because in America’s early days police were the slave patrols.  They would lynch African Americans during picnics and sold their body parts as trophies.  Within my generation, minorities are not in tune with politics, which allows whites to use this to their advantage to vote for someone who represents their interest.

This furthers widens the gap between the rich and the poor.  It is amazing how evident this is as  Wise pointed out that six heirs of Walmart have a combined wealth of 127 million African Americans in our country.  We have Walmart, the wealthiest corporation pay their employees non-livable wages.  Those same employees take advantage of Walmart’s Snap Benefits or Food Stamps.

I feel that the legal system further enhanced income inequality.   African American’s built this country with their blood, sweat and tears, but some white Americans want to label them  lazy.  A good example would be the famous 1857 Dred Scott case, which stated that Blacks had no rights.  According to the Pew Research Center, “In 2010, Black men were six times as likely as  white men to be incarcerated in federal, state or local jails.”

Wise said that for the past 10 years, about 1.6 million Black people are walking around with criminal records because of the disproportional application of laws against Blacks and other minorities.  Blacks with criminal records cannot get good jobs with  livable wages or  a better education, which keeps benefits, wealth and resources flowing toward the  dominant group.  When you get a chance please read Tim Wise book, Dear White People.

Sign o’ the times

MTE5NTU2MzE2MjgwNDg5NDgzBy Quenton Kloczko

White supremacy and white privilege, class inequity, class warfare, income inequality…what a time to be alive in the U.S.

From the countless cases of racial police misconduct and profiling to the many recent college campus protests across the nation (don’t get me started on how in the world an egomaniac like Donald Trump is successfully running for President while promoting racism and xenophobic rhetoric), it’s an incredibly hazardous time right now, but also a hopeful time to deal with these racial and economic issues that have been afflicting people for decades.

None of these issues are new though. The difference is that white people are being affected,  for a change.

Americans are sick of dealing with an economy bloated with mass unemployment and low wages just so the rich can keep being rich while the middle class disappears. Here’s a gross little fact of the day: Did you know that the wealthiest 1/10th of one percent of Americans own the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent of the population? It’s beyond belief that six people, those of the heirs to the Walmart fortune, have amassed the same fortune as the bottom 40 percent of Americans. That’s the wealth of 6 individuals being equivalent to 127 million people.

More outrageous is the fact when folks lament over the overall economic situation, they point the blame at Black people, Spanish people, and other minorities, and not the powerful elite corporations like Walmart that pay their workers so little  they are thenforced to get SNAP benefits that we as taxpayers  ultimately  pay for. This is the world we live in, where implicit bias is becoming explicit. There are many ugly truths in this economy that have nothing to do with minorities, but everything to do with  mega institutions that profit off those below.

In this state, what can one single person do in an era of faceless titan conglomerates and rampant racial inequalities? Let us take solace in the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny…Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.”

We unite and keep going, voicing our dissent at whatever latest peril is thrust upon us. We are already heard and it’s only a matter of time when the many overtake the privileged few. There will be a time when we can stop discussing these national problems plaguing our people, that of the mass inequality going on. There will be a time when a person of color, a woman of color, and a queer woman of color can have this conversation with the same amount of respect that I receive.

Tax Fairness & Wealth/Income Inequality

Source: Huffington Post

Most people acknowledge the vast wealth/income gap in America.

Documentaries have covered it.

The New York Times has written a plethora of articles about it.

Politicians have even denounced it.

Realizing a problem is one thing. Solving that problem is another issue.

Anyone can talk about how terrible it is, or watch, and read, and listen to the awful effects it has on this country. We need to go above and beyond to offer solutions.

Unfortunately, there is no single answer when it comes to solving wealth and income inequality in America.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Source: efile.com
Source: efile.com

Instead, break the problem down. Look at a single issue as a piece to solving the puzzle of wealth/income inequality.

One piece of the puzzle that should be looked at is the lack of tax fairness in this country.

Theoretically, America has a progressive tax. A single American who makes over $413,200 from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2015 has to pay a tax rate of 39.6 percent.

A single American who makes between $1 and $9,225 has to pay a rate of 10 percent.

Although it sounds fair on paper, things tend to work out differently when push comes to shove.

Source: The Washington Post
Source: The Washington Post

In 2012, the average tax paid by the top 50 percent of earners was 14.33 percent, according to the IRS.

How fair is that?

The country’s richest people tend to earn from their various investments.

Investments are taxed at a much lower rate than income. The nation’s wealthiest residents also are eligible for many other tax breaks. Some may surprise you.

These factors lead to Warren Buffett paying a lesser tax rate than his secretary, or Mitt Romney paying taxes at a 14 percent rate.

Tightening up restrictions and closing these loopholes would create a fairer America.

FDR. Source: History.com

This doesn’t mean the tax rate has to be at a WWII level, when Franklin D. Roosevelt taxed top earners 94 percent.

There are other options. With a concentrated effort, a difference could be made.

It’s time for America to start putting the puzzle together.


 

By: Jackson Rioux

A Solution to the Wealth Inequality

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And by poor I mean everyone who isn’t part of the 1 percent. Wealth allocation in America has become so inflated and one-sided that the elite 1 percent own 50 percent of America’s riches. Americans have had to endure this corrupt economic model for years.

Enough is enough.

Here are a couple of ways to remedy the mass inequality and even the playing field for all.

The wealth gap between middle class workers and grossly overpaid executives is outrageous and yet these average employees are still paying higher taxes. The government’s duty is to serve the people, therefor they should alleviate inequality and poverty by instilling a fair tax system that cuts down on the top earners and helps build up the bottom. In order to cut down on inequality, wealth redistribution is essential. With that said, a progressive tax should be imposed on all in order to better reshape this country into a fairer nation. Under progressive taxes, those who earn more are taxed higher and those with less income pay less in taxes. The economic resources gained from the tax cuts on the rich could be put to use by using it on improving public education, medical research and other societal functions. During World War II, President Roosevelt put forth a 94 % tax rate for top earners. Since then, the U.S. has experienced decreased progressiveness in its tax policies over the years and as a result income inequality greatly increased by allowing the elite access to capital.

While the methods and ideas brought up may not be the solutions that will ultimately fix everything, something must change! All we want is just a fairer world to live in.

-Quenton

 

 

Who Will Save The Middle Class?

With income inequality on the rise, middle class earnings stuck, and more people being forced to rent because of lack of money, the middle class has been stagnant for years. Before the financial crisis of 2008, the U.S. already took first place for containing the highest disparity of wealth in the industrialized world. Since then, the gap between the wealthy elite and the remaining 99 percent has only worsened with those in power now in possession of over 70 percent of all monetary assets. With the 2016 presidential elections rapidly approaching, can any prospective candidates offer this change?

When it came to economics during the Republican president debates, the worries of the middle class were largely passed over for other topics. During this time, I only counted three times that the phrase “middle class” was spoken. Whenever the topic of the middle class became the focus of discussion, the candidates seemed intent on trying to one-up each other with bigger tax cuts that only benefited the already wealthy elite.

On the other hand, Democrats mentioned the middle class eleven times. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has solidified her campaign around gaining benefits for average working class families: increasing child care support, decreasing the cost of public college costs, and demanding required paid leave. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has spent a considerable amount of his campaign blasting the one percent, saying that “we are living in a rigged economy where 57 percent of income is going to the top one percent; it is immoral and wrong that the top tenth of one percent in this country own as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” To save the middle class, Sanders wants to create more well-paying jobs, tax the rich, and overhaul systems that spread inequality such as our current criminal justice system.

-Quenton

The Gender Wage Gap

Women comprise half of America’s workforce. Yet oddly enough, for every dollar a man nets, women earn roughly 77 cents. How is that just? How can something so one-sided exist in a progressive society such as the U.S.? The gender wage gap is a massive hindrance to a woman’s equity and chance at the world. Even right here in Connecticut the gender wage gap is alive and well. As a matter of fact, Connecticut holds the widest wage gap out of all the states in the Northeast, with the city of Fairfield containing the leading difference. Good find.

In the U.S., more than one in three women live in poverty or are hovering around it, and four out of ten kids living in poverty belong to families that only contain a sole female parental guardian looking after them. Too many of these lone women are dealt with numerous responsibilities and surmounting odds: paying rent, figuring out a way to earn money and still find time to spend with family, scraping up enough money for presents, etc. How are they supposed to face these challenges and provide for their loved ones with lesser wages? With these conditions, are they supposed to?

When single mothers take on the responsibility of providing for the welfare of their family, something has to give: their hopes and aspirations. Dreams are cast aside, sometimes forever, to make sure that there is a roof above their kids when they are sleeping. Still thinking of pursuing a degree at a college? How can you with health care and child care breathing down your neck? It’s ironic that for a nation that was built around the American Dream, many of its female citizens have to sacrifice that right because of an archaic attitude that still sadly exists today: inequality.

-Quenton

When Will Pay be Equal for Working Women?

male female not equal pay 2

Two workers, one male, one female, equally educated, enter a workplace to perform an identical job. One might assume that if they work approximately the same hours, they would accrue comparable vacation and personal time, sick time and overtime, and also take home practically identical pay. And yet, years of inequity in the workforce, including blatant salary discrepancies, continues to exist between the salaries of men and women. For every dollar a man makes, today’s woman makes approximately 77 cents. In the above example, the man may accept an annual salary of $30,000 while his female coworker’s annual salary totals only $23,100 for exactly the same job. Fair? I think not!

rosie the riveterEarly ‘40s marketing campaigns introduced the classic image of “Rosie the Riveter” as an “every woman,” empowering and encouraging ordinary housewives to enter the workforce to fill the manufacturing jobs that were vacated by men sent overseas in times of war. For many years, those women learned the skills required to work in all types of jobs including manufacturing, and kept American industry going when it could have been shut down altogether. They set the standard for women who wanted to work deserved to be able to work and they broke the mold of “a woman’s place is in the home.” But regardless of their performance, salaries were not equal.

There have been studies done, articles written, laws signed, protests walked, and more … and yet women continue to be paid less for equal jobs. There are lame excuses given during the hiring process and for some reason we continue to accept less pay than our male counterparts.

By Signe Lambertsen