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Separate & (Very) Unequal

from Rev. Dr. Joseph Glaze

Two recent articles in the Washington Post make real the prevalence of un-equality here in the United States. The May 6 issue reported on the findings of Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren that where a child lives shapes that child’s chances of future success as measured by income. Places like Virginia’s Fairfax County dramatically improve a poor child’s odds of moving up the economic ladder. But other locales have the opposite effect, diminishing with each passing year a poor child’s odds of thriving as an adult. Ranked last on this list: Baltimore City.

In Baltimore, every year a poor boy spends there his earnings as an adult fall by 1.5 percent. Add up an entire childhood, and that means a 26-year-old man in Baltimore earns about 28 percent less than he would if he had grown up somewhere in average America. And that’s a whole lot less than the very same child would earn if he had grown up just 50 miles away in Fairfax County.

So, if the recent protests in Baltimore were, as the protesters contended, against a long legacy of inherited disadvantage, that reality is now confirmed: Baltimore is a terrible place to grow up as poor and black.

This disparity was echoed in another Post article a few days later. As reported, in 2013, 9,264 babies were born in the District of Columbia.  In Ward 2—which includes areas like downtown, Georgetown, Foggy Bottom and Logan Circle—there was an infant mortality rate in 2013 of zero. But in much poorer, and blacker, Ward 5, 11.9 babies out of every 1,000 live births died—the highest infant mortality rate in the city. Babies born into poor black families face a higher chance of mortality than their wealthier white counterparts, even if those wealthier families live just a few miles away in another part of the city. In poor D.C. babies are 10 times more likely to die than rich ones.

Shame on us for allowing this. For just one instance of God’s condemnation of such disparity read Job 24.


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