Category Archives: Poverty

The whiteness system of thought

By Jesmarie Disdiel

wagegapbrokenupbyrace-011Race and wealth and income inequality go hand in hand. People discuss how minorities get the short end of the stick; that they don’t get far because the system has been set up that way. There are also all the stereotypes that follow minorities, for example that African-Americans and Mexicans are lazy, or,they take all the low-wage jobs. We consistently hear that it is poor people that are bringing down the economy, that it is their entire fault. What about white people? Do they have  no fault in how the economy is today?

Tim Wise put it as the “Whiteness System of Thought.” White people, and this is a generalization, are somewhat willfully ignorant to what is going on around them. Many of them believe that it is minorities causing  problems in the economy, but that is not true. The “problem is economy predicated on low wages,”  said Wise at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10. Rich companies give low wages to employees who are then forced to rely on SNAP, funded by taxes. It is a never-ending cycle, and it is those (primarily white) CEOs who allow  it to continue.

White people are ignorant to the facts and history that African-Americans know all too well. African-Americans understand the system, while white people may not. The system sets up minorities to fail and for white people to succeed. There is no such thing as actual “privilege.” It is a made-up notion that white people, or the majority of a culture, have more claim to anything than those they deem below them. They believe they deserve better because they “are better”.

However, there exists both true ignorance and willful ignorance, which is choosing to ignore what is going on in the world. All the facts and information can be laid right out in front of someone, but they can still choose to ignore because it is better to ignore the ugly than to acknowledge it. For example, it is a fact that White people commit more crimes a year than African-Americans. The numbers exist. Yet, instead of believing the numbers or doing their own research, White people make the assumption that it is only minorities who commit crimes, and since this is all that is reported in the news, a racial bias and stereotype is created. If more White people were sent to prison and more reports of White crime were released, maybe people would begin to fear White people more than minorities.

It is everyone’s responsibility to self-educate and learn the truth of what is going on in the world. Following and believing in the system and trusting that what they see in the media is true, just creates ignorance. Staying neutral brings you down the same old beaten path, not inspiring any new thought or revelation. No one race is responsible for wealth and income inequality, but a whole government or system can be. That’s truth.

We choose not to give up

By Krystal Copeland

It’s the responsibility of those who know the truth to educate and teach those that don’t. If it wasn’t for Tim Wise, how engaged would everyone from all backgrounds be to listen to someone speak about racism? It’s fascinating to hear a white man be an advocate for minorities. Not only is he a great speaker but he offers something out of the ordinary that grabs folks attention.

We see how history repeats itself, so it’s really hard to expect change. And  Wise touched on how we could expect change, but it must involve the assistance of those who are privileged and those of European descent known as white folks.

There are white people who are programed to think a certain way. And they come from decent living conditions and nonetheless grow up being a member of the dominant group. So as a result, they don’t have to think about or even be aware of some important stuff.

So if growth involves change and change involves letting go, then how can we build off that? As we’ve been taught throughout this whole semester and have heard Wise discuss, growth can be messy. Changing people’s viewpoints and getting folks out of their comfort zone can be extremely hard.

As with the Black Lives Matter movement, the fact that you have white people out there protesting with blacks proves  we can unite as one. We all are human beings and race is what disconnects us and wealth is what classifies us. We can’t afford to waste any more time being a divided nation.

The bigger problem is wealth and income inequality. Allowing companies like Walmart to pay workers pocket change while the Walton family makes infinity times their workers is just plain disrespectful. As Wise said “the economy is predicated on low wages.” The problem is not the Mexicans or blacks are taking  jobs; it’s the greed of these CEOs.

We have to challenge these people in power. 

We’ve learned that there’s a balance when people earn low incomes because those are the ones who help support the economy. Just think if we all were wealthy there’s the possibility of an unbalanced economy. But my question is why should people have to live in poverty and why can’t we all be equally educated. I believe the fair thing to do is to give everyone equal opportunity and not to be judged based on your skin color or lack of education.

We can’t keep allowing racism to continue. And we can’t allow those in power to keep manipulating are minds. We will continue to be a “Snap Chat” nation as  Wise calls it if we don’t put an end to what’s holding us back. Poverty doesn’t have to exist. That’s why it’s up to us come together as one and fight for change. And we can’t give up.

 

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

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

The Wealth Divide

From Multinational Monitor, May 2003:

LINK:      http://multinationalmonitor.org/mm2003/03may/may03interviewswolff.html

Multinational Monitor’s Interview with Edward Wolff: Professor of economics at New York University

“The Wealth Divide The Growing Gap in the United States Between the Rich and the Rest”.

MM: What portion of the wealth is owned by the upper groups?

Wolff:

The top 5 percent own more than half of all wealth.

In 1998, they owned 59 percent of all wealth.

In another way, the top 5 percent had more wealth than the remaining 95 percent of the population, collectively.

The top 20 percent owns over 80 percent of all wealth. In 1998, it owned 83 percent of all wealth.

MM: Where does that leave the bottom tiers?

Wolff:

The bottom 20 percent basically have zero wealth. They either have no assets, or their debt equals or exceeds their assets. The bottom 20 percent has typically accumulated no savings.

A household in the middle — the median household — has wealth of about $62,000. If you consider that the top 1 percent of households’ average wealth is $12.5 million, you can see what a difference there is in the distribution.

MM: What happens when you disaggregate the data by race?

Wolff:

The average African-American family has about 60 percent of the income as the average white family.

The average African-American family has only 18 percent of the wealth of the average white family.

Examining_Labels_Photo_by_John_Mudd_Cornell_University_1_t670

Now?…

Is poverty the result of laziness, lack of resources, or unethical systems?

In an article titled “Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor” by Seth Freed Wessler, Americans took a poll to determine the blame for poverty.

Two important conclusions:

“Leslie McCall, Ph.D., a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies inequality and public opinion, says that Americans have held on to 90s era stigma about family safety-net programs, while becoming more invested in opportunity-building policies.” Further, that, “Concerns about inequality, or poverty, are not associated with an increase in support for traditional forms of safety net like welfare,” McCall says. “But they do associate with increased support for spending in education, increased earnings for people at the bottom or the middle, and access to jobs. People look around and see that conditions are not a result of individuals, but of structural problems.”

The “Poverty Line” Affects Educating Our Children

child-povertyAs one of eight children, I was raised believing that if you worked hard, went to school, and kept out of trouble, you’d probably be OK. My parents worked hard to provide for us. But they wanted more for us than they had. Statistically speaking, my family lived below the poverty line for many years. While it was my parents’ desire for us all to go to college, there was a family expectation for us to work and financially help the family.

So, what is the “Poverty Line” and how do these statistics affect educating our children? According to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau , it includes a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children under 18) collectively earning less than $23,021. Remarkably, 47.7 million Americans (or 14.8 percent of the population) were living in poverty last year; and this is an annual epidemic.

Dropout rates for 16 to 24-years-old students 4985435_origfrom low-income families are seven times higher than those from families with higher incomes. Clearly education is the best way out of poverty. But how can we expect our children to focus on education if they are continually faced with the problem of trying to simply survive.

 

Signe Lambertsen

Is Life Just One Big Game of Monopoly?

Cries are heard from the nursery as the monopoly game of life begins to unfold. The players chose their pieces and equally align themselves on the “Go” space. They are ready to actively participate in the race for the American Dream.

Paul Piff created a social experiment to analyze the outcomes and consequences of the psychology of wealth. Piff conducted an experiment in which participants were to play Monopoly against one another — EXCEPT, this was in no way the average Monopoly game. Piff rigged the game to give one person an advantage while playing, and one person a disadvantage. The results were uncanny. Throughout the experiment, the advantaged player began acting with a sense of entitlement and narcissism as the fellow participant struggled to stay alive in the game.

Advantage Player      VS.      Disadvantaged Player

-Multiple Dice                                  -One Dice

– $200 at “Go”                                 -$100 at “Go”

-Got 2x the amount                     -Collects half the salary

of money at the start

Unfortunately, like Piff’s Monopoly game, the American Dream can NOT be achieved through hard work and the “tightening of the bootstraps.” The game has been rigged from the start, a predestined fate, as you will. I do not want to exclude those special cases where people have overcome poverty and made it to the top. Yet, when the statistical evidence overwhelming shows that 42 percent of children born into poverty will never get out, the facts just cannot be ignored.

Olivia C. Granja