Economic Discourse In The US

            CNN described George Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic”. The 7-16-13 online Newark Advocate ran an OpEd by DeWayne Wickham entitled How did George Zimmerman become the victim? Mr. Wickham also described George as a “white Hispanic” which prompted a reader’s comment to the obvious: Does that make Barack Obama a “white African American”? Hope Yen of the Associated Press ran an article on 7-28-13 that just might keep the Sominex in the medicine cabinet unopened over that question. The article (a rather long one) is entitled Exclusive: 4 in 5 in US face near-poverty, no work. Based on statistics, interviews and data provided by Mark Rank of Washington University in St. Louis, Tom Hirschl at Cornell University, John Iceland at Penn State University, The University of New Hampshire Carsey Institute, the US Census Bureau and the Population Reference Bureau the map of America looks quite a bit different than it did at the time of the March On Washington 50 years ago. The US Supreme Court may have used just such reasoning (to say America today ain’t the way it was back then) to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act, but I don’t think that what Hope Yen presents is exactly what the court had in mind; probably more like what Dr. King had in mind while expounding on his dream. It is obvious that we have lost The War On Poverty. “Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white. More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.” The AP article attempts to follow the same racial narrative that has accompanied such economic discourse since before the Johnson presidency. Hope Yen cites “For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.” This begs the same question, seemingly facetiously presented by The Advocate comment. Though North West may claim exception, our current president has referred to his own personal upbringing as at times being that of a single-mother family. Hope goes on to point out “The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.” This REALLY muddies up the historic bifurcation of economics along the lines of race. Children are politically powerless in the US of A. As Gandhi, Mandela, and so many others pointed out, self-identity is incumbent on self-rule. Who determines the “racial” identity of these impoverished children? The enemy of my enemy is my friend; such a tired cliché. However, as Dr. King (and many others) have indicated, the racial narrative has always been the friend of those opposed to any victory in a War On Poverty. The AP article underscores this historical perspective, “Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a nonmajority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites.” Economic discourse in the US, the one that dominates our attempts at self-governance, embarrasses itself through such continuous contrived, covert and subliminal presumptions of hierarchy and entitlement based on Victorian era anthropological distinctions.


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