Racialization of Poverty Essay

This essay has a total of 1775 words and 8 pages.

Racialization of Poverty



African Americans continue to have high levels of poverty compared to European Americans.
What are the causes of these problems, and what are some possible remedies for the future?
How are African American women faced with even more discrimination than African American
men? There's an old saying that you don't know where you're going if you don't know where
you've come from. To explore our options of improving social justice in the future, we
must first take a look at our past. There are specific reasons why African Americans
continuously maintain high levels of poverty in the United States. These reasons can be
linked to discrimination, lack of education, as well as job opportunities. Work force has
a huge impact on the racialization of poverty. These reasons will affect the children of
our future.

Year after year since the beginning of World War II, real wages and living standards rose
continuously for the typical American person working for a living. When, in the middle of
the 1960s, the War on Poverty was declared, the poor were

looked at as the people who were left behind. They were not sharing in social contract
because they were a racial minority. African Americans were pushed further and further
away from the typical white lifestyle. Lack of job opportunities, education, as well as
discrimination played a huge role in the economic status of African Americans. Not to
mention that if you are an African American female, you face double the discrimination
because of your sex and the color of your skin.



The number of black children born into poverty was 43% in 1968.(1) That number was
increased to 46% in 1987, and has dropped by one percent since then.(2) Half of the black
women in America are heads of households, and half of them live, with their children, in
poverty. In 1965 the average poorest quintile of an African American household was
$10,624 in comparison to a white household’s income was $20,212.(3) The richest quintile
of African Americans was $60,782 in comparison to whites, which was $84,891.(4) In 1995
the average poorest quintile of an African American household was $10,200 compared to a
white person’s household income was $20,916.(5) The richest quintile of an African
American household was $84,744 in comparison to white household incomes, which was
$125,196.(6) This goes to show that the black household income still lags far behind the
white household income, it actually marks a decrease in the income of the poorest black
households between 1968 and 1995.(7)

The growth of the black middle class was flourishing. In 1940 only 5.2 percent of black
men and 6.4 percent of black women worked in white-collar occupations.(8) However by 1990
this rose to 32 percent for black men and 58.9 percent for black women.(9) This was still
below that of the average white families percentile. In 1940 only one percent of black
families, compared to 12 percent of white families, had income at least twice as high as
the government’s poverty line.(10) By 1995 almost 49 percent of black families did,
compared to 75 percent of white families.(11) The duration of Clinton as president was
very beneficial to the middle class black population.

Today black women make 94 percent of what white women earn. In 1992, 39.1 percent of
black households earned less than $15,000 annually and by 1997 the



percentage had declined to 31 percent.(12) The overall black poverty rate in 1997 was
26.5 percent, which has been the lowest record so far.(13) Overall approximately 1.7
million black Americans went off poverty between 1992 and 1998.(14) This is also because
there has been an increase for employment, and more jobs are being created and provided.
In 1997, the nations unemployment rate was at 4.6 percent, which has been the lowest since
1970.(15) The increasing influence of many black people rests not only on the removal of
racial barriers to their employment, and the implementation of affirmative action
programs, but also on the increase of education. At time many more black youths graduated
from high school. In 1960 the number of African Americans between the ages of 25-29 who
completed high school stood at 37.7 percent, but by 1995 it had climbed to 86.5
percent.(16) The enrollment of blacks in college has also increased. In 1960 136,00
attended college while in 1990 1,300,000 attended.(17) Despite the emergence of a
substantial black middle class, many African Americans remained mired in poverty.

In 1997 more then nine million African Americans were below poverty level. (18) The black
poverty rate is somewhat lower than that of the Hispanic Americans but more than twice
that of non-Hispanics white Americans. Most poor black people are

trapped in inner-city neighborhoods. Many of them are involved with gangs, drug
addiction, and high rates of diseases. They are cut off from meaningful participation in

the social and economic life of the rest of the country. This high rate of poverty has a
tremendous effect on children of African American decent. More than half of all African

Americans under the age of eighteen live in families with only one parent, which is almost
always the mother.(19) Female-headed single parent families suffer from limited earnings
capacity, meager public assistance, poor housing, and inferior education.

The number of children living in households run by their mothers is also in high numbers.
In 1960 19.9 percent of black women were single mothers running their household, in
comparison to white women, which was that of 6.1 percent.(20) In 1990 the number grew
increasingly to 58.1 percent for black females and 16.1 percent of white females running
the households.(21) So where are these single black females living with their children?
The location of the households headed by black women in 1990 was 60.9 percent within
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