Hardly a day goes by without an outbreak of protests – usually violent – in some U.S. city as a consequence of the death of an African-American at the hands of the police.
The latest example is the response to the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore that provoked protests – justifiable, some insist – which led to considerable destruction of property.
Of course, violence cannot be tolerated or justified for any reason, as President Barack Obama stated after the events in Baltimore. However, the incidents should be examined, both for practical and for humanitarian reasons, as their roots could trouble society.
We are not among those who believe that all the ills of African-Americans can be blamed on slavery or discrimination. These are responsible to some extent, but they do not justify everything, as is claimed by their supporters.
Moreover, the truth is that poverty in America – a topic to which, unfortunately, the American media do not pay enough attention – is not a monopoly of African-Americans. A significant proportion of the poor are white.
According to reports, in 2013 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.4 Hispanics were poor, compared with 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians. We are talking about 45.3 million people living in poverty – a poor family is defined as one where the couple has one child and an income of less than $ 17,552.00 per year.
Accordingly, the rates of poverty are highest nonetheless in families with single mothers, especially among African-Americans and Hispanics.
The poverty rate is generally much too high. Unacceptably high for America. These numbers do not honor America and are a time bomb that threatens the foundations of society.
And the poor themselves are not always to blame for their condition. They are not all lazy – “working poor” is a very real status – yet they are unable to escape poverty. Either because they lack the necessary qualifications or for other reasons.
And yet, despite impressions to the contrary, the country is not spending huge amounts of money on the poor. The total has been 1 to 2 percent of GNP for decades.
So the country can do more – much more. Not only by providing financial support, but mainly for new training programs, raising the minimum wage, etc.
The gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. is very high and getting higher. And that is not a positive thing for our current state or for the long-term good of the country. Neither can conditions in the ghettos be ignored for much longer.
Many of us had hoped that the Obama Presidency would have a positive effect on the African-American community, that it would strengthen self-confidence, increase ambition, narrow the gaps, and lower discrimination. Perhaps these results will manifest later.
Meanwhile, however, more practical measures must be taken. Such as improvements in the negative conditions in low-income neighborhoods.
Because, as was revealed in the research published recently by the New York Times, tell us where you live and we’ll tell you how high you reach in society.