Monday, July 27, 2009

An Endangered Class?: 2


The Boston Globe has some interesting information about research on race, wealth, and where people live. Here is a portion of the article:

The Pew Charitable Trusts Economic Mobility Project caused a stir two years ago by reporting that nearly half of African-American children born to middle-class parents in the 1950s and ’60s had fallen to a lower economic status as adults, a rate of downward mobility far higher than that for whites.

This week, Pew will release findings of a study that helps explain that economic fragility, pointing to the fact that middle-class blacks are far more likely than whites to live in high-poverty neighborhoods, which has a negative effect on even the better-off children raised there. The impact of neighborhoods is greater than other factors in children’s backgrounds, Pew concludes.

Even as African-Americans have made gains in wealth and income, the report found, black children and white children are often raised in starkly different environments. Two out of three black children born from 1985 through 2000 were raised in neighborhoods with at least a 20 percent poverty rate, compared with just 6 percent of white children, a disparity virtually unchanged from three decades prior.

Even middle-class black children have been more likely to grow up in poor neighborhoods: Half of black children born between 1955 and 1970 in families with incomes of $62,000 or higher in today’s dollars grew up in high-poverty neighborhoods. But virtually no white middle-income children grew up in poor areas. (Read the whole article here)

That the children of middle-class African Americans may not enjoy the same economic advantages as their parents once they reach adulthood is a sobering thought. The next generation doing better than the last is the hope of most parents and a key element of the advancement of a people. It makes me wonder again if the African American middle-class is an endangered class. This research suggests that the conditions in which families live is a significant factor in perpetuating racial inequality and challenges the oft repeated notion that the success or failure of black children is primarily due to parenting. It is also a reminder that achieving racial equality is not just about transforming attitudes, but also transforming the social order.

"Let there be no mistake. The principle of the Oneness of Mankind -- the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve -- is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. Its appeal is not to be merely identified with a reawakening of the spirit of brotherhood and good-will among men, nor does it aim solely at the fostering of harmonious cooperation among individual peoples and nations. Its implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced." (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 42)