Kirkwood High School student newspaper
What%E2%80%99s+the+black+struggle%3A+How+economics+shape+and+separate+the+black+community.

Celia Bergman

What’s the black struggle: How economics shape and separate the black community.

There’s never been a proper apology for slavery

What’s the black struggle: How economics shape and separate the black community.

Although I’m a black girl living in America, I’m privileged. I live in the suburbs and both my parents have multiple degrees. My dad has a doctorate and is the interim president at Harris Stowe State University, while my mom is a minister.

This isn’t to say we don’t economically struggle on occasion, or that my dad doesn’t work extremely hard to keep us afloat in expensive Kirkwood. If I painted that picture, it’d be a lie.
I’ve never had to worry if we’d have electricity, my phone paid for or new school clothes or supplies. I’m not allowed to have a job — because according to my parents, school is my job. That’s a privilege. Looking through a white, suburban lens, that’s normal.

However, due to the wide wealth disparity, that isn’t common among the black community. Most of my friends applied for jobs the minute the clock struck midnight on their 16th birthdays. Working late nights, even though they have an AP test the next morning. It wasn’t just because they wanted to buy makeup or clothes; they had bills to pay.

Due to the false notion of the “American Dream,” it has been promoted that the reason for poverty and wealth disparity is laziness. If poor white people can work their way up, why can’t poor black people? Black people must be lazy.

In reality, if you’re born black, the odds are stacked against you, but if you’re black and poor, the opportunities are scarce. It all starts at the root — 1619.

Yes, I know that’s a long time ago. But the repercussions of slavery have devastated the black community because there’s never been a proper apology that comes in the form of a check. The economy is the key to controlling and suppressing a group of people; it’s just another form of slavery. Kids like me, have won the lottery.

According to the St.Louis Post-Dispatch, a report done by EdBuild shows that nationwide there’s a $23 billion racial funding gap with K-12 schools. EdBuild is a national group dedicated to promoting fairer funding of public schools for low-income students.

In Missouri, “predominantly nonwhite school districts in Missouri have 2% less funding on average than predominantly white school districts.” Although 2% doesn’t sound like a large amount, that’s about $134 less per student, the report says. The biggest contribution to the gap is disparities in property taxes. Nation-wide, nonwhite districts took around $54 billion ($4,500 per student) in 2016 in local tax dollars while white districts took in more than $77 billion ($7,000 per student).

None of this is by coincidence. It systematically oppresses.

In a TEDtalk by Amy Hunter, manager of Diversity and Inclusion for St. Louis Children’s Hospital, she speaks on how our zip code directly correlates with the resources within our schools and how, for example, the people of Normandy pay a 13% tax rate, while the people of Ladue pay 8%. An important factor in how we got to this point is things like the GI Bill. Hunter said it best when she said it moved working-class whites to middle-class whites in the same generation, whereas black people were denied access to the GI Bill, despite earning it the same way. They were left stuck in the same economic bracket.

It’s a simple equation — systematically-caused low property value equals a lack of economic prosperity. Who’s going to open up a business with low property value? There’s no revenue being generated within these inner-city neighborhoods. A low property value means a lack of funding for schooling. As for “working hard,” all kids need new, up-to-date texts. It’s a system. And it’s hard to break a system.

However, this isn’t just an issue that was systematically created; we privileged “well-off” black folks helped contribute to it as well—we’ve also adapted the mentality that we worked hard for ours. Not all skin folks are kinfolks. Not always intentionally, we’ve separated ourselves from inner-city black folks, forgetting where most of our parents or grandparents started because remember, the GI bill didn’t include us. We weren’t all born into wealth. Moving to the suburbs for a better life is one thing, but assimilating is another.

Bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots is difficult; it’s not impossible. It all starts with a change in mentality and that starts with education. Although many black people can work hard enough to live in nice suburbs and live comfortably we need to understand how systematically it’s difficult for poor black people to raise their economic status.

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