Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Understanding Racism Using a Map

 Below is a Tweet from Chicago Beyond highlighting a discussion they hosted today on ZOOM, titled "Unpacking Race, Wealth and Individual Power".

As the conversation unfolded I begin to feel that it mixed two significant problems facing the Black community and people of color.  I created a screenshot of this RacialDot map to help illustrate my thinking.

I circled areas in Chicago with high concentrations of Black citizens, which also are areas with high concentrations of poverty.  If you browse through the maps, media and violence articles on this blog, you'll see that most of my focus has been to help create opportunity for youth in these areas, by motivating more consistent investment in youth mentoring, tutoring, learning and jobs opportunities.

However, as this graphic from Ebony Jet magazine illustrates, many Black Americans do not live in poverty. Many are very, very successful and have great wealth and unlimited opportunities.  These people are spread in all parts of the Chicago region. 

For them racism is not so much a lack of opportunity as it is a fear that because of the color of their skin they or their kids can be pulled over by police, and possibly killed, or they can be stopped in their neighborhood at their homes, or near their cars, because someone called the police, "fearing" that a Black person had entered their space.

You can find stories like this every day in some part of America.   

Don't get me wrong. From what I have read, there is plenty of discrimination facing people who have managed to escape poverty but still lose jobs, promotions, access to loans and lower property valued because of the color of their skin.

If you're in a high poverty neighborhood, you have these fears, too. Maybe even more frequently. However, I think that some how this conversation needs to broaden, using a map, to understand the ingrained racism that affects every Black person, regardless of their wealth or where they live.

At the same time we need to find ways to engage EVERYONE in efforts that fill every high poverty neighborhood with a full range of programs and supports that help each youth born today be starting a jobs and career free of poverty 20 to 30 years from now. That will take significant investment and public will, for many years.

Build your own understanding of race/poverty issues.  I've built a huge library, pointing to dozens of web sites and resources.  The concept map shown below serves as an entry point. Use it often.

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