Environmental policies – particularly on climate change – arms control and a responsible foreign policy without unnecessary wars are all integral to immigration policy since they would all assist in allowing many people to stay where they would rather be: at home.
Build a 10-foot fence with food on one side and a hungry person will build an 11-foot ladder to get to it. Turning your borders into a fortress and filling your jails with the globe’s poor does not solve the problem. At the very best it contains and suppresses it, at worst it criminalises poverty and brutalises its victims.
Poverty and White Privilege
I figured I’d right a small, sort of, piece on white privilege while being a minority in poverty. I see a lot of whites trying to get out of the whole “racism = prejudice + power” thing by claiming “omgz i’m a minority” or “b-b-but i’m so poor!” and i figured that since i’m from THE poorest state in america, not one of, but actually THE poorest state (Jackson, MS), i’d say a bit about why you absolutely can have white privilege while being a minority and living in poverty.
First off, our poverty rate for the state (source) is 20.1%, while the city of Jackson, MS has 23.5% of people below the poverty line, with the median income of a family being only 30k (source). This, of course, is no where near the poorest city in Mississippi. Other cities have a percentages up to 31.2% (source), 26.3% (source), and a whooping 62.6% (source). Now, one would assume “Wow, what a large percentage! Everyone must be poor in those cities!” Almost. I’ll get there in a moment.
Next I want to talk about the racial demographics of Jackson, MS and other poorer cities. For Jackson:
The racial makeup of the city was 79.4% Black or African American, 18.4% White or Euro American, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, and 0.9% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. (source)
For other poor cities previously mentioned (since I’m lazy and don’t feel like finding new ones)
The racial makeup of the city was 42.99% White, 55.76% African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.61% from other races, and 0.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.23% of the population.
The racial makeup of the city was 29.30% White, 68.59% African American, 0.02% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.59% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.05% of the population.
The racial makeup of the village was 4.56% White, 92.28% African American, 0.70% Native American, and 2.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.16% of the population.
If you haven’t noticed, the pattern is as follows: places with higher number of “African-Americans” have a higher poverty percentage. If “white privilege” didn’t exist in poverty, then how could this be possible? Compare these cities to other cities with extremely high number of white folks:
The racial makeup of the city was 93.23% White, 4.89% African American, 0.07% Native American, 1.20% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 0.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.69% of the population.
The number of people below the poverty line is 2.5% (source)
The racial makeup of the city was 86.61% White, 11.89% Black, 0.10% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 0.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.30% of the population.
The number of people below the poverty line is 6.0% (source)
I could list more, but I think everyone understands the point by now. Now, back to lil Jackson, MS. The number of Black-owned firms is 41.9% (source). If the population is almost at 80% then why do Blacks only own barely half the number of firms as white people? That means that 18% of Whites own 44.2% (subtracting the 2.0% owned by Asians and the 0.3% owned by Hispanics). Could it be…white privilege…in poverty…I dunno…Let’s keep going!
Another thing I’d like to bring up is the percentage of Whites in higher-paying jobs. For the record, yes, everywhere I go, there are Blacks employed. But that’s the thing. I go in fast food restaurants, shoe stores, book stores. Let me go to a doctor’s office and watch how fast Blacks appear and Whites take their space. In a survey done in 2002, the statistics state “Mississippi has a much higher percentage (90%) of Caucasian doctors than the nation as a whole (75-80%); yet, Mississippi has a much higher percentage (36.3%) of African-American residents than the nation (13%) as a whole.” (source) As the survey states, this is extremely important because we all know White folks ain’t gonna care for Black people as they should. Other studies that you’ve probably seen will show that. Even in another statistics sheet I found, it states that Black babies (under 1) die at a rate of 13.6, almost double the 7.1 compared to Whites. (source) Sounds like white privilege to me.
I also want to relate this to some people that claim that because the majority of cops in Jackson are Black that that means that they can be racist against Whites. To that I’ll refer back to the death rate of their children compared to ours and hope that they’ll understand that that’s not the case at all.
One of the last major issues I’ll address is poverty stemming from slavery. Everyone knows that Mississippi was p much the epitome of slavery. Hell, our state flag has the Confederate Flag in it. The government has long since not given a single shit about Mississippi, and they know it’s because of the large percentage of Blacks. A lot of people say that education is the key to growing out of poverty. It’s easier said than done when your poverty extends far, far behind your time. The schools get shitty funding, so they don’t get taught how to fill out job applications or how to apply for scholarships or how to speak the head white bitch in charge’s english. And why would they have the time to worry about that when they have to help their family pay for bills by getting menial ass minimum wage jobs? And then getting incarcerated at higher rates for finding something that can help to pay their bills better.
Meanwhile White people already known this shit for decades; we made this shit up. We know how it works. And PoC are far, far behind us, especially since segregation only truly ended around 1965. That’s my mother. That’s my classmates’ mothers. Another reason why I don’t understand why Whites complain about shit being fair. Talkin about how you make the same as everyone else ~~ yeah but with way less effort. Don’t give me that bullshit.
And one more minor issue that I’ve thought about a lot since it happened. My dad was recently arrested for assault on 6 police officers. No one really knows what happened, but I do know that he had a gun. And the cops beat the shit out of him while he was handcuffed. He couldn’t open his mouth to eat for a week. And for a really, really long time I was pissed as fuck about this. Until I realized that if he was Black, he would’ve been shot in an instant. There would’ve been no handcuffing or back-up or bail or any of that. He would’ve died. THAT’S white privilege in poverty.
Also, as a signing off note. Dear white girl who always gets beat up by Black people for being the only white girl in her class, I’ve been in that situation tons of times. Don’t think that’s ever happened. Maybe you’re an asshole?
*This is the first time I’ve ever opened my mouth to speak out about stuff like this, but if I’ve made a mistake, please let me know (kindly or not - however you prefer) so that it can be changed.
While the Occupiers were dealing with such abuse, during civil disobedience, communities of color suffer these type of injustices simply because it’s Wednesday, and they may look like someone else. That’s what happens to us — and it’s accepted as if it were just a day of the week.
There have been discussions as to why there aren’t more blacks involved in the Occupy movement. I can’t speak for all of them, but I can speak about what I’ve read and the folks I’ve talked to directly about this. The type of outrage that pops up now at what many of us have lived with on a regular basis for years feels insulting.
It’s hard not to notice that once the right number of white folks are affected, people want to take to the street. Unemployment numbers are high? We’ve had high unemployment for years. People are living in or near the poverty line? Yeah — we know.
When minorities speak up and say there is an issue, we are told maybe we are doing something wrong. Perhaps we are targeted by the police because of what we are wearing. Perhaps we don’t look for jobs the right way. Maybe we aren’t educated enough. But now that it’s affecting other folks, now there’s a problem. Now we need to come together and fight the power. Someone tweeted at me that we need to come together and not point out silly differences like race because we’re in this together!
Yes, we can — and have (there is support from various folks of color) — come together within this movement, but you can’t expect us to throw away ‘race’ and ignore history. Even the violence that’s happening with the Occupiers right now is looked at differently because of race. You can’t be surprised that people have reservations about this when you look at how our issues have been dealt with before.
I’m not making an argument for ignoring the movement because a lot of the movement ignored us. But I am saying take a moment to walk away from your righteousness to understand that your newfound plight has been some people’s plight for generations.