Inequality in America Student Resources

Student Materials for Inequality in America, 2nd Edition

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Chapter One: Representation

Chapter Two: Income and Wealth

  • “Race is the Elephant in the Room When It Comes to Inequality”
    To say that economic inequality is still a heavily racialized phenomenon, even a generation after the end of the Civil Rights era, would be an understatement. Yet both major parties continue to discuss inequality in largely color-blind terms, only hinting at the role played by race.
  • “We Know How to End Poverty. So Why Don’t We?”
    This short video cites several sources including MLK and previous presidents who have advocated for basic income as the answer to poverty, dispelling the misconception that basic income is an unrealistic or unpopular idea.
  • “How Wealth Inequality is Dangerous for America”
    This video briefly touches on income and wealth inequalities, as well as the notion that the wealth gap is perpetuated generation by generation and through politics.
  • “Income and Wealth Inequality: Crash Course Economics”
    Ten-minute video that explains the concepts of economic inequality and explains the difference between wealth inequality and income inequality.
  • “Wealth Inequality in America”
    Graphic illustration of wealth inequality in the US, including a discussion of the discrepancy between this reality and what Americans perceive (and desire)
  • “The Line”
    This documentary spotlights four individuals who found themselves in poverty after having a steady income.
  • “Rural America Is the New Inner City”
    A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating
  • “Why Black Families Struggle to Build Wealth”
    This article explain why it’s harder for African Americans to climb the economic ladder, and to sustain their progress.
  • “Bootstrap Myth Exposed: White Inheritance Key Driver in Racial Wealth Gap”
    Professor Thomas Shapiro, who directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy and is the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, is co-author of a study that explores the role of inheritance in the racial wealth gap.
  • “Definitive Data on What Poor People Buy When They’re Just Given Cash”
    A study that reveals how cash assistance is used by recipients

Chapter Three: Housing

Chapter Four: Education

  • “Why American Public Schools Are Failing Students”
    This video explores the complexity of school funding and other policies on opportunities for students of color. Topics include funding, emergence of charter schools, discipline policies, and racial composition of the studet body and the teaching pool.
  • “Why Chicago’s Public Schools Are Broken”
    In part 2 of the video from chapter 3, this film explores the ways that housing segregation is related to discrepancies in the public school system in Chicago.
  • I’m First
    Website devoted to helping first-generation college students to navigate the process of applying to college and succeeding once there.
  • “First Generation”
    An award-winning documentary narrated by Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, First Generation tells the story of four high school students – an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter of migrant field workers – who set out to break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to their families and communities by pursuing a college education.
  • “Sytematic Inequality in Education: Advocating Change Through Music”
    Is public education funding fair? Does gentrification influence curriculum design and how does that affect schools? In this talk, Peter Douskalis philosophizes about the meaning of what makes a ‘good’ or ‘great’ school/district and how curriculum design and public school funding intertwine in the continued perpetuation of systematic ignorance through education. A monologue of observations and questioning influenced by the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, John Dewey, Howard Gardner, and David J. Elliott, and set to a visual presentation in collaboration with Spy Kontarinis; Peter Douskalis advocates that multicultural education, especially through music and arts, can lead the path to peace and cultural awareness, and should be treated as equal parts of a core and holistic education.
  • “The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers”
    A NPR story that explores the multiple benefits of and concerns with K-12 education vouchers
  • Facts & Figures – Black Student Success: Graduation Gaps Persist Nationwide, but Some Institutions Are Exemplars
    Report on a new study that finds peristent gaps between Black and White students, but some bright spots, as well
  • Opinion: “Where Did All the Black Teachers Go?”
    A New York Times op-ed from columnist Brent Staples about the ways that educational integration affected the number of African American teachers and principals.
  • “Why Talented Black and Hispanic Students Can Go Undiscovered”
    New evidence indicates that schools have contributed to educational disparities by underestimating the potential of black and Hispanic children.
  • “5 Facts About Latinos and Education”
    This article discusses significant educational strides by Latino students in the US, such as a dramatic decrease in high school dropout rates and an increase in college enrollment. It also speaks about continued discrepancies between the Latinx population and their black, white, and Asian counterparts.

Chapter Five: Crime and Criminal Justice

  • “Is the Criminal Justice System Broken?”

    From The Atlantic: At this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, we asked a group of senators, police commissioners, professors, activists, and authors to comment on the state of law enforcement in America. This land of the free…now incarcerates more human beings than any other nation on the planet,” says Senator Cory Booker. Our criminal-justice system is really violating our values as a people.” Other panelists include Ray Kelly, Tracey Meares, Clifton Kinnie, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Bruce Western.
  • “Mass Incarceration in the US”

    A video exploration of the cycle of poverty and incarceration, the argument is that tough-on-crime policy has been a failure and is problematic in that it not only has failed to reduce crime it has contributed to economic inequality.
  • “Crime in Chicago”
    Comedian W. Kamau Bell explores the roots of gangs and violence in his home city of Chicago, making connections between schools, housing, poverty and violence.
  • An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter
    Born out of a social media post, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked discussion about race and inequality across the world. In this spirited conversation with Mia Birdsong, the movement’s three founders — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — share what they’ve learned about leadership and what provides them with hope and inspiration in the face of painful realities. Their advice on how to participate in ensuring freedom for everybody: join something, start something and “sharpen each other, so that we all can rise.”
  • “Why Black Lives Matter Doesn’t Focus on ‘Black-on-Black’ Crime”
    This article address the often-asked question about why #BLM does not squarely focus on violent crime committed by African Americans
  • “The Gentrification-to-Prison Pipeline”
    Part of the Truth-Out series “Severed Ties” (, this piece documents the relationship between housing patterns, city planning, and crime.
  • “Study: Black People More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted”
    Representing 13% of the US population, black people make up 47% of the 1,900 exonerations that were studied

Chapter Six: Immigration and Employment

  • “W. Kamau Bell Explores Immigration in America”

    Comedian W. Kamau Bell explores immigration and racism in the first episode of season 2 of CNN’s United Shades of America
  • “Are Immigrants Stealing Americans’ Jobs?”

    Through interviews with persons on the street, as well as organizers, this video explores the lives of immigrant workers in Arizona and the effects of recent immigration laws in the state.
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices”
    List of employment practices prohibited by federal law
  • Educational Resources for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylees and other New Americans
    Portal for information from the United States Department of Education
  • “A Case that Could Determine the Future for Dreamers”
    Johnathan Blitzer examines the case of Daniel Ramirez, a so-called “Dreamer” who was detained in early 2017. How the case is handled will send a signal about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) law.
  • “Immigrant Workers Are Most Likely to Have These Jobs”
    CNN Money reports on a new poll indicating that foregn-born workers are clustered into particular occupations.
  • Immigrants’ Employment Rights Under Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws
    Immigrants are protected from employment discrimination by laws enforced by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This website answers questions often asked by people who think that they have suffered discrimination in employment. It describes what the law covers, how to file a complaint, and typical examples of employment discrimination.

Chapter Seven: Health

  • STAT
    Frequently updated list of long-form pieces about health disparities
  • “Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?”

    Video that addresses the complicated reasons why the United States spends so much more on health care than any other country in the world, and along the way reveals some surprising information, including that Americans spend more of their tax dollars on public health care than people in Canada, the UK, or Australia. Who’s at fault? Insurance companies? Drug companies? Malpractice lawyers? Hospitals? Or is it more complicated than a simple blame game? (Hint: It’s that one.)
  • “Why Can’t America Have a Grown-Up Health Care Conversation?”

    Video that addresses the tradeoffs involved in health care reform, and why the 70% of Americans who are happy with their personal health care make it difficult to achieve more than incremental changes in the very expensive, very inefficient health care system in the United States.
  • Food Access Research Atlas
    Interactive map that offers a spatial overview of food access indicators for low-income and other census tracts using different measures of supermarket accessibility; provides food access data for populations within census tracts; and offers census-tract-level data on food access that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.
  • “The Problem Isn’t Food Stamps, It’s Poverty”
    New York Times editorial, May 26, 2017
  • “A Look at Inequality in America Via Its Teeth”
    The divide between dentistry and the rest of medicine is so ingrained in the U.S. that many people don’t think of it as an oddity, but it’s a divide that has serious economic and health repercussions, as explored by Mary Otto’s new book, “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.”
  • “What’s Killing America’s Black Infants?”
    A closer look at the relationship between race and infant mortality
  • “Wider Racial Gap Found in Cervical Cancer Deaths”
    A recent study notes that the gap is larger than previously believed
  • “Can Poverty Lead to Mental Illness?”
    NPR reports on researchers’ exploration of possible links between poverty and mental illness

Chapter Eight: Gender

  • “Kimberle Crenshaw Explains Intersectional Feminism”

    An interview with Kimberle Crenshaw, American critical race scholar, civil rights advocate, and creator of intersectionality theory. Discusses black women in the workplace, #BlackLivesMatter, and #SayHerName.
  • “Kimberle Williams Crenshaw: What is Intersectional Feminism?”

    Kimberle Crenshaw gives a speech on women and political participation. She points out the focus on white women initially in women’s suffrage.
  • “Pre-Debate Roundtable: Kimberle Crenshaw on Donald Trump and the Central Park 5”

    The Central Park 5 is a group of Black and Latino teens who were wrongfully accused of sexually assaulting a woman 25 years ago. Donald Trump took out full page ads calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in order to prosecute the teens. Crenshaw discusses how this is not only rape culture, but RACIST rape culture.
  • Akilah Obviously: “On Intersectionality in Feminism and Pizza”

    Video uses pizza (women) and burgers (men) as metaphors for intersectionality.
  • “Is the Gender Pay Gap Real?”

    Video examines the complex and tangled question of the gender wage gap, and looks at some of the reasons why women who work full time are paid less than men who work full time.
  • “Wage Gap”

    Comedian John Oliver explores the wage gap within the context of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and other political commentators.
  • “What People Miss about the Gender Wage Gap”

    Video explores the many nuances of gender wage gap statistics, such as full-time or part-time employment, educational attainment, and field of employment.
  • The Gender Pay Gap Is Largely Because of Motherhood
    This New York Times article explores the nuance of the gender pay gap.

Chapter Nine: Affirmative Action

Conclusion: The Space Between Power and Powerlessness

Credit: The author would like to thank research assistants Manilyn Gumapas and Linda Oglesbee for their help with these student resources.

Academic Disciplines and Courses

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