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The Racialization of Poverty


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The Racialization of Poverty

  1. 1. The Racialization of Poverty john a. powell Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of LawAmerican Humane and Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services Differential Response Pre-conference Institute: Poverty SummitPittsburgh, PANovember 11, 2009
  2. 2. Today‟s conversation The intersection of race, poverty, and place Intergenerational poverty Policy implications 2
  3. 3. 3 Interrelated Sites of Racial Justice Explicit Implicit Structures & Policies 3
  4. 4. A Broader Understanding of Poverty  Thinking about poverty in such a robust way means that we must look at the sociopolitical, institutional, andVisualizing Systems Theory that produce spatial systems and structures impoverished outcomes. Thinking:The Newtonian Perspective: Systems A DA B C D E C Social phenomena may be B understood by breaking downthe sum of the constituent parts. E Causation is reciprocal, mutual, and cumulative.  Poverty must also be understood as reflecting structural 26 disinvestment and marginalization on a global and a local scale. 4
  5. 5. Multiple Dimensions of Poverty We must look at multiple indicators  There‟s a difference between:  Childhood poverty --- adult poverty  Being poor and uneducated --- being poor and educated Different racial groups face unique constraints. We must also consider the time dimension  Are poverty programs aimed at short-term poverty?  Can they address multigenerational poverty? 5
  6. 6. Framing Poverty Poverty is a symptom of a broader disease -- the structural arrangements that deny access to opportunity, wealth and power for marginalized groups, while limiting opportunity for the non-poor as well. We must frame poverty as an outcome of a structural deficiency. It must be emphasized that this systemic denial to the levers and pathways of opportunity is highly racialized.  Racialized structures and policies have created the correlation of race and poverty. 6
  7. 7. Poverty and Race in the U.S. Poverty and race – 2006  White (non-Hispanic): 17.9 million in poverty, 9.3% poverty rate  Black: 9.0 million in poverty, 25.3% poverty rate  Asian: 1.4 million in poverty, 10.7% poverty rate  Latino (all Latinos): 9.3 million in poverty, 21.5% poverty rate 7
  8. 8. Poverty is Spatialized & RacializedHistorically marginalized people of color and the very poorhave been spatially isolated fromeconomic, political, educational and technological power via:  Reservations  Jim Crow  Appalachian mountains  Ghettos  Barrios  Culture of Incarceration 8
  9. 9. Neighborhood Effects Are we accounting for neighborhood effects, or simply looking at individual poverty? Neighborhood effects are real.  Location matters when creating affordable housing  The subprime crisis had varying impacts by community  Our response should be targeted accordingly 9
  10. 10. Neighborhoods of ConcentratedPoverty Nearly 1 out of 10 Blacks lived in a concentrated poverty neighborhood in 1999, compared to 1 out of 100 Whites. 10
  11. 11. Childhood Poverty Living in “concentrated disadvantage” reduces student IQ by 4 points, roughly the equivalent to missing one year of school (Sampson 2007)11
  12. 12. Race & Residence  Using data from 1980 census: “Racial differences in poverty and family disruption are so strong that the „worst‟ urban contexts in which whites reside are considerably better than the average context of black communities.”  In the 171 largest cities in the U.S. in 1980, there was not even one city where whites live in ecological equality to blacks in terms of poverty rates or rates of single-parent households.Sampson, Robert J. and William Julius Wilson. 1995. Toward a Theory of Race, Crime, and Urban Inequality.12In Crime and Inequality, edited by John Hagan and Ruth Peterson. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  13. 13. Residential Segregation & Disparities  A study of the effects of segregation on young African American adults found that the elimination of segregation would erase black-white differences in  Earnings  High School Graduation Rate  Unemployment and reduce racial differences in single motherhood by two-thirds. 13Cutler, Glaeser & Vigdor, 1997; Williams presentation “Racism & Health: Understanding Multiple Pathways.”
  14. 14. Comparing Poor Whites & Poor Non- whites  In 1960, African-American families in poverty were 3.8 times more likely to be concentrated in high-poverty neighborhoods than poor whites.  In 2000, they were 7.3 times more likely.  3 of 4 persons living in concentrated poverty are Black or Latino -- even though more whites are poor.  Whites only make 30% of people living in high poverty neighborhoods, although they represent 55% of the total population living in povertyFact Sheet from the Opportunity Agenda, Housing Neighborhoods and Opportunity. 14
  15. 15. School Poverty and Race Ethnic and Racial Composition of Fifth-Grade Elementary Schools by School Poverty Status Data: ECLS-K Class of 1988 (N=9,796). Data are weighted to yield 15Rumberger, Russell W. 2007. “Parsing the data population estimates. on student achievement in high-poverty schools” North Carolina
  16. 16. Time in Poverty Two-thirds of white families in poverty are poor for only three year or less (intermittently), and only 2 % are impoverished for more than 10 years. 17% of the impoverished Black population are poor for ten or more years. 16
  17. 17. Poverty, Race, and Recession According to EPI President Lawrence Mishel: Even using conservative forecasts for future job loss, the poverty rate for children could increase from an already high 18% -- where it stood in 2007 -- to more than 27% by next year. Poverty among African American children, currently at a staggering 34.5%, could reach 50% before the employment picture starts to turn around. 17
  18. 18. Intergenerational Poverty & Wealth  Poverty is more than lack of income; it‟s also lack of wealth.  Challenges to wealth accumulation for non-whites include:  Redlining / lending discrimination / predatory lending  Job discrimination / wage disparities  Unfulfilled promise of “40 acres and a mule”18 ace_wealth_and_intergenerational_po verty
  19. 19. Expanding our Understanding ofPoverty  Poverty can also be measured by the capability to live the life one can value and contribute to society  Poverty is the deprivation of basic capabilities, including health and education  People in poverty cannot fully exercise their freedoms  Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (1999) 19
  20. 20. Understanding Our Linked Fates Racialized structures and policies have created the correlation of race and poverty. People assume that only people of color are harmed. In reality, these effects are far reaching and impact everyone – we share a linked fate 20
  21. 21. Adjusting the Poverty Lens Re-define, re-think, and re-frame  Re-define: from an “income-to-needs” ratio to “Human Development Index”  Re-think: unconscious vs. conscious racism  Our emotional responses to poverty determine our willingness to help  Re-frame: from a “welfare and charity” approach to an “opportunity for all” approach 21
  22. 22. Plan for Action - To Alleviate Poverty Move discourse away from individualistic framing Highlight poverty‟s structural causes  Frame poverty as the result of a structural deficiency Focus on our shared connections:  Poverty and marginalization do not just harm the poor  Opportunity isolation harms the entire community Emphasize the need for strategies that expand access to opportunities 22
  23. 23. Other Solutions / Ideas Seek solutions that are both targeted and universal Analyze the role of segregation and space  Opportunity mapping 23
  24. 24. Rethinking Structural Arrangements  Bringing people into structures that formerly excluded them may not be enough  Message is: individual is not properly “negotiating” the ladder when the ladder is too narrow or long …and we‟re climbing alone  Insensitive, perhaps hostile structural arrangements  Make structures work for marginalized populations, thus changing their relationship to wealth and power24
  25. 25. For more information: www.KirwanInstitute.org25
  26. 26. AppendixInfant mortality by raceImplicit bias – passing the ball video 26
  27. 27. Infant Mortality by Mother’s Education College educated Black women have higher infant mortality rates than Whites who did not graduate from high school. 20 NH White Black Hispanic API AmI/AN 18 16 17.3 14 14.8Infant Mortality 12 12.7 12.3 11.4 10 9.9 8 7.9 6 6.5 6 5.7 5.9 5.5 5.1 5.4 5.1 5.7 4 4.4 4 4.2 2 0 <12 12 13-15 16+27 Years of Education
  28. 28. Awareness Test 28