hearts and minds

April 7, 2013

Child Poverty and Race in Wisconsin and the USA

Filed under: Class warfare,Race relations — Hearts & Minds @ 2:29 pm
Tags: , ,

Conservative data and analysis holds that three out of every 20 Americans live in poverty in the United States today. It’s worse than that for kids – and it’s toughest for families with children. More than five out of 20 American children under the age of five live in poverty today. And children of color are far more likely than so-called White children to be living in poverty. I guarantee this essay will upset a fondly and very widely held applecart of belief.

This essay cites data presented in the recent national report prepared by Bread for the World, “a collective Christian voice” based in the United States, “working to end hunger and poverty”. That report focuses on poverty in Black children in the USA as compared to the overall population of children. This essay spotlights how Wisconsin compares to other states.

Wisconsin has the fifth highest rate of African-American child poverty in the USA.
Mississippi is the only Deep South state worse than Wisconsin – and just barely.
(44.1% of Black children in Wisconsin live in poverty, while 44.6% of Black children in Mississippi live in poverty.)
The three worst states are our Upper Midwest neighbors, Iowa, Ohio, and Michigan, in all of which, more than half of all Black children live in poverty!

Nine states possess an African-American child poverty rate that is more than double the overall child poverty rate in that state.
Those states (ranked in order from the very worst, to the least worst) are Iowa (with more than triple the overall rate of child poverty in that state!), Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Wisconsin ranks third worst in the nation in relative disparity of child poverty, which compares the poverty rate of Black children with the overall rate of child poverty in that state.
Note that these nine states are contiguous. And note that not a single Deep South state is in this list of the nine states where the rate of Black child poverty is more than twice the overall rate of child poverty in that state.
Forget about Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, etc. – Wisconsin can only be ‘proud’ that we’re ‘not as bad as Iowa and Minnesota’.
And Illinois can be ‘proud’ that it’s ‘not as bad as Wisconsin’.

The Milwaukee/Waukesha/West Allis metropolitan area is number 10 on the list of metropolitan areas in the entire United States with the highest rates of African-American child poverty relative to the overall rate of child poverty in that region in 2011.
Wisconsin’s largest urban/suburban area ranks tenth worst in the entire country.
49.6 percent of African American children in the Milwaukee metropolitan area live in poverty, compared to an overall child poverty rate in that region of 22.4 percent.
The only two Deep South metropolitan areas with relative rates of Black child poverty that are higher than the Milwaukee metro area are the Chattanooga metropolitan area and the Greenville/Mauldin/Easley metropolitan area.

Americans have long been afflicted by, and many still believe (whether quietly and privately, or overtly) the racist myths we have all been taught by various sources from one generation to the next. Are you among those who believe that well-documented information, such as is presented in the Bread for the World report, is not evidence of injustice and oppression, but is instead evidence of the inherent inferiority of people of color? Do you still harbor a belief that so-called “races” of human beings can be differentiated in terms of intelligence, athletic ability, sense of value for human life, “natural rhythm”, criminal tendencies, or a predilection for, and tolerance of poverty and suffering? Do you deny the well-established scientific evidence that there is only one biological race of human beings on the planet – the human race – and that so-called “races” of people are historically and culturally defined, not biologically/genetically defined? Allow me to refer you to the easily understood, enlightening book by eminent evolutionary biologist Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr.:
“The Race Myth – Why We Pretend Race Exists in America”

Source: http://www.bread.org/media/releases/new-analysis-reveals-alarming.html


  1. Thanks for this, Clyde. Good work that needs to be brought to the forefront of how we look at food and empowerment. I recommend that anyone who wants to engage this topic spend some time reading about the work of Will Allen at Growing Power in Milwaukee, as well as work of urban farming in Detroit and Cleveland.
    If people in cities believe their food HAS to come from the ‘civilized’ corporate production systems, they won’t get together and find ways to produce their own food. If they realize it is easier to do it themselves, then there is hope for empowering them to become a powerful voice in their own situation. As long as they feel powerless and beholden to the System of systems, they will be powerless, as well as fearful. Too many times, concerned citizens will try to “feed the hungry” and end up simply taking even more power away from them and handing it to TPTB. First, we have to always get people to employ their own usefulness, as Will Allen has done so well.
    Sorry to go off the racism topic, but we can go back there easily enough when we remember that the key to producing one’s own food is to have access to the resources (time, tools, seeds, soil and knowledge). Wealth (resource accumulation) is really about keeping resources away from people. Instead of “child poverty” being couched in terms of money, we can also measure it in terms of access to time, open space, knowledge and personal safety. A kid or parent that doesn’t feel safe leaving their apartment is not going to be outside in a garden or visiting neighbors to start a community project. A system that is based on fearful consumerism and wage slavery is not going to give up those resources easily.

    Comment by Dan C. — April 8, 2013 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  2. Wow, this just appeared in my in-basket. Where have you been all my life!

    I have always believed that racism is alive and well and it is no surprise that Wisconsin, and Milwaukee, are on the top of the list for black poverty. I’m sure Walker’s policies only increase the poverty and hopelessness of blacks in our inner cities.
    We have an adopted black son who grew up in Milwaukee. He has MADE IT in the white world quite well. This white boy (ME) who grew up in Elm Grove with a silver spoon in his mouth can’t believe his stories of poverty, drugs and crime. I don’t know how he made it out. I’m not at all sure I would have! I would have been one of the angry black males in the riots. He was working at his job.

    I am ASTOUNDED that the “christian” right actually argues that it is wrong to help the poor because it robs them of their inner glow of satisfaction when they pull themselves out of the gutter (if they live). It seems that the whole of society is willing to blame the poor, or blacks, or whoever else is in dire straights for their problems – even if it is clearly demonstrated that they are completely blameless for their condition.

    Thanks for writing this. Those of us who defend the needs of those described must speak out!!!!

    Comment by Patrick M — April 11, 2013 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  3. The missionaries flock to Tanzania. There is no water there. The water is polluted. The women work and the men smoke ganja all day. The people of Tanzania like the way they live and hope the missionaries keep on coming. When the missionary’s come they work with the woman making bricks, bring food,spend money and men smoke ganja all day long because that’s what they like to do.

    Some people care and some don’t.

    Leo Tolstoy was a socialist with a few problems. He was rich, hated hypocrites, and had a wife who liked to be rich. One day; He, Leo, decided to give it all away, he lost his wife, most of his family and died on a train in the middle of winter. His wife who he loved beyond measure begged him not to give up his wealth, pleading, that it was his wealth that gave him the opportunity to write, learn and evolve. That it was his wealth that gave him the luxury to think beyond human suffering and weakness.
    She said,
    Suffer all you want dear, pulling the blanket to his chin, right next to this fire, please drink your cognac and come lay next to me in our warm, clean bed. Lets enjoy this peace and share this love while we can.

    For some, suffering is freedom

    Comment by Enrico — April 12, 2013 @ 12:24 am | Reply

    • What a coincidence. Enrico. The very first response I got to this essay was from – would you believe it? – a missionary/engineer helping people with water problems in Tanzania. But you could not have known that because he did not send his letter to me as a comment for posting here. Also, his narration was very different from yours, focused on a very different aspect. His narration focused on the reason that the people (and all forms of life) no longer have the clean, clear surface water from Mt Kilimanjaro on which life in that area has depended for many thousands of years. Their water is gone because massive, persistent, and still increasing alterations in our planet’s atmosphere caused by the unrelenting advance of civilization are drastically changing the very climate on which life as we know it depends. They need water because the snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing and the land where they live is drying up. They are suffering because civilization is afflicted with greed and is now, beyond all doubt, unsustainable. His narration was based on very direct, very recent personal experience, in the shadow of the mountain. How ’bout your narration? Were you there? Was it second hand? Was it imagination? speculation?
      Another question, “Enrico” – Is the handle that you’re using an alias which does not in any way reflect your true ethnicity?

      Comment by clydewinter — April 12, 2013 @ 10:58 am | Reply

  4. I think what you wrote was actually very reasonable.
    But, what about this? what if you added a little information?
    I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your blog, however what if you added a headline that makes people want more? I mean Child Poverty and Race in Wisconsin and the USA | hearts and minds is kinda boring. You should peek at Yahoo’s front page and watch how they write news titles
    to grab people interested. You might add a video or a
    related pic or two to get readers excited about what you’ve written. Just my opinion, it would make your blog a little livelier.

    Comment by nicotine withdrawal — July 20, 2013 @ 8:24 am | Reply

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