Monday, September 28, 2015

Black Children, Class War Collateral Damaage

                                                  From The Ramparts
                                                  Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                Black Children, Class War Collateral  Damage

            "Overall, 20% of children in the U.S., or 14.7 million, lived in poverty in 2013 – down from 22%, or 16.3 million, in 2010. (Poverty in 2013 was defined as living in a household with an annual income below $23,624 for a family of four with two related children.) During this period, the poverty rate declined for Hispanic, white and Asian children. Among black children, however, the rate held steady at about 38%. Black children were almost four times as likely as white or Asian children to be living in poverty in 2013, and significantly more likely than Hispanic children." Pew Research

            A recent report published by the Pew Research Foundation based upon Census Bureau data revealed Black children in the United States are more likely to live in poverty than any other ethnic group. Analyzing 2010 census data the researchers concluded the poverty rate declined for Whites, Hispanics and Asians but held steady for Blacks. Hispanics have the largest number living in poverty because their population is younger and so high.
            The sad reality is that children under 18 make up the bulk of people living in poverty, they represent the largest demographic of poor people in this country. The United States has the highest rate of child poverty of any industrialized nation in the world!  This fact speaks volumes about this nation's values and priorities and how it perceives its most vulnerable citizens. "Children make up a larger share of America’s impoverished than of the population as a whole – those younger than 18 make up about a quarter of the total population, but make up about a third of all Americans in poverty. Black and Hispanic children in particular are overrepresented: Children make up 27% of the black population, but 38% of blacks in poverty. And children account for 33% of all Hispanics, but 42% of impoverished Hispanics. By contrast, children make up roughly equal shares of the white and Asian populations and of whites and Asians living in poverty."
            What are the social and public policy implications of this data? How can a nation as materially well off as this allow their most defenseless citizens to wallow in poverty and not take substantive action to ameliorate the situation? What are the short and long term effects of poverty in the so called land of plenty? What grass roots political adjustments or social movements should evolve to address this crime against humanity?
            Poverty means privation and disadvantage; poor people generally experience poorer health because of their economic situation and its concomitant circumstances. "Research finds that experiencing poverty during the first three years of life is related to substandard nutritional status and poor motor skills.  Childhood poverty is also related to “age-normed growth stunting” (low height-for-age) and 'wasting' (low weight-for-age), common indicators of poor nutritional status.67 At the other extreme, poverty is also associated with obesity among children.  As they get older, poor children are more likely than other children to have chronic health problems such as asthma and anemia.  Low-income children and adolescents are also more likely than higher income youth to have a physical impairment that restricts their activities. Adolescents living in poverty are more likely than their higher income peers to get involved in risky and health-compromising behaviors, such as smoking or engaging in early sexual activity. Health problems associated with poverty during early childhood become risk factors themselves for developmental problems in later life, including problems in the achievement, cognitive, language, social-emotional, and physical domains... Researchers note that there are many possible pathways by which poverty can affect health. For instance, poor children are disproportionately exposed to risk factors, including environmental toxins, inadequate nutrition, maternal depression, parental substance abuse, trauma and abuse, violent crime, divorce, and low quality child care. Poor families are more likely to live in substandard housing that may have lead paint and other health hazards. They are also more likely to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods that are not safe, that provide fewer positive models of people who exhibit healthy behaviors, and that have fewer stores that sell healthy foods. Also, living in households that sometimes don’t have enough nutritious food may explain why some children’s growth is stunted." Trends Child research Brief Publication 2009-11
            Recent studies indicate poverty is a major factor in poor health, and cognitive underdevelopment in children.  "The National Longitudinal Study on Youth and the Infant Health and Development Project have followed children who are poor and children who are not poor over years and provide a rich data source to examine the impact of poverty on cognitive ability and educational attainment while controlling for a number of confounding factors such as family characteristics. Scores on IQ tests seem to vary with the level of poverty, whereas educational attainment seems to be related to poverty early in a child’s life and duration of family poverty. Poverty during a child’s early years has a more powerful influence on grade completed than poverty during school years. The high school dropout rate for central cities is 14% compared with 7% for adolescents in the suburbs. In areas with high poverty, graduation rates approach only 50% of those who started high school. It is estimated that an increase in mean family income of $10 000 during the child’s first 5 years of life results in almost 1 full year more of schooling." Effect of Child and Family Poverty on Child Health in the United States
David Wood, MD, MPH, FAAP
            Material lack is merely one of the problems facing children who live in poverty. You can be poor but if you have a supportive and nurturing social network you can overcome the disadvantages of poverty. But if you live in a dysfunctional social environment, with limited support, nurturing and cultivation your prospects for full development are further diminished. "Children who are poor have higher rates of hospital admissions, disability days, and death rates. They have inadequate access to preventive, curative, and emergency care and are affected more frequently by poor nutrition, single-parent families, dysfunctional families, and poor housing. Exposure to lead hazards is an example of how poverty directly impacts child health. Four to 5 million children, the vast majority of whom are poor, reside in older homes with lead levels exceeding the accepted threshold for safety. More than 1.5 million of these children (younger than 6 years) have elevated blood lead levels." ibid
            The United States is experiencing the greatest economic disparity, income inequality and class divide in its history. In short there is a class war going on in this country that very few people are talking about. Our babies are the collateral damage in this war! The politicians, many of whom are millionaires do not empathize with or relate to the poor. Why should they, the only thing they need poor people for is our vote! This reality does not bode well for the prospects of developing public policy genuinely designed to reduce poverty and economic apartheid in America. In fact Bernie Saunders is the only candidate with a history of talking about class warfare and income inequality in this country.
            Respect for Congress and government in general is at an all time low; rightly so. People are waking up to what's happening and are expressing their frustration and displeasure.  Politicians are not responsive to the needs of the masses, many are bought and sold their souls to the corporations and special interests. For example in 2011 The Occupy Wall Street movement  brought attention to the egregious income inequality in the US but Obama had the Occupy movement forcibly shut down lest it undermine his 2012 election bid by exposing just how one sided and corrupt the system really was.
             Not one politician spoke up in defense of the Occupy movement or the young people behind it; just as very few politicians support the Black Lives Matter campaign today. The only way this unconscionable situation is going to be turned around is through agitation and direct action such as massive strikes, slow downs, and serious well coordinated economic boycotts. The stakes are too high to passively sit back and allow our children and future generations to suffer at the hands of the politicians and their corporate puppeteers and benefactors. Since the class war is already on, we might as well get in it to win it!



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