When Poverty Wears a Black Face

Matt Bruening makes an important point about poverty in the U.S. (boldface mine):

Our discourse around poverty, and particularly the so-called “culture of poverty,” often proceeds as if most poor people are black and most black people are poor. Neither is true. In 2012, 46.5 million people fell below the official poverty line. Within that 46.5 million, there were 1.9 million Asians, 10.9 million blacks, 13.6 million Latinos, and 18.9 million whites. Although black people have the highest poverty rate at 27.2 percent (barely above the Latino poverty rate of 25.6 percent), black poverty accounts for less than one-fourth of U.S. poverty.

Thus, most of what is said about black culture and black poverty fails to address three-fourths of the overall problem. What causes black poverty rates to be so elevated is an important discussion to have, but it is a much narrower one than most people seem to think. If black poverty rates were as low as white poverty rates, that would amount to seven million fewer people in the ranks of the impoverished. To reiterate: There are 46.5 million people currently below the official poverty line. Seven million people is a lot of people, but it is not the totality of the American poverty problem, not even close.

Due to their sheer numbers, there have always been more poor whites in this country than poor people of any other race. However, in the last half-century especially, conservative race-baiters have done their best to cast poverty as a black problem as a way to drive sentiment against welfare programs. This effort has resulted in the black-focused poverty discourse that continues to dominate political commentary on the issue.

And, no, libruls are not the ones injecting race into this debate–America’s Patriotic Rancher, Cliven Bundy is (boldface mine):

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

The point about most poverty not being black seems germane. That the Republican Party plays footsie with these insurrectionist assholes going back to the militias in 1990s–in 2014–is disgusting.

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5 Responses to When Poverty Wears a Black Face

  1. Crprod says:

    Perhaps he feels that they don’t have enough gumption to fight as hard for their government welfare as he does for his.

  2. Min says:

    They were economically better off as slaves than as working at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

    • crprod says:

      Check out the story of Charles Ball (http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/ballslavery/ball.html). He describes his life as a slave including his abduction, sale and long walk to South Carolina, how slaves often had little or nothing in the way of clothes to wear and how they were often whipped at the end of the day for not meeting their cotton picking quota. Minimum wage workers today are badly treated, in a way that reflects poorly on America, but they are not someone else’s property. White Republicans frequently complain about something being “as bad as slavery” while black Republicans will complain that it’s “the worst thing since slavery”, but the silliness here is fully integrated

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