Inequality in America Student ResourcesStudent Materials for Inequality in America, 2nd Edition
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Student Web Resources
- Politifact: “Bernie Sanders wrong to say ‘When you’re white … you don’t know what it’s like to be poor.'”
Provides statistical information on US demographics, which show that Sanders’s statement was technically false.
- “What’s the Difference Between Racism and Prejudice?”
Discusses racism and prejudice within the context of the n-word.
- “Race, Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination – What are they?”
A beginner’s approach to these terms
- “25 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias and Identity With Students”
A list of short films from The New York Times
- “The Myth of Race, Debunked in 3 minutes”
Nothing so complicated can be given appropriate treatment in three minutes, but this is a comprehensive and quick timeline of the history of the concept of race.
Chapter One: Representation
- “Concepts of Inequality”
Equality (and inequality) can be defined many ways. This document from the United Nations offers some discusison of this complicated concept.
- Pew Research: “115th Congress Sets New High for Racial and Ethnic Diversity”
The current Congress (115th) is the most diverse Congress the US has seen to date, though still not entirely representative of the US population given that non-whites make up 38% of the nation’s population and only 19% of Congress.
- The Supreme Court is a Check on Big Government, Protection for Minorities
In this New York Times op-ed, Ilya Somin, a law professor, exlplains how the judicial branch, and the USSC in particular, were meant to be able to function in a countermajoritarian fashion.
- The Supreme Court is Looking Out for the Rights of the Majority
This piece from The Atlantic in 2014 argues that the USSC has functioned to protect the powerful rather than fulfill its promise of being able to stand up for minority rights.
- The Problems with First Past the Post Voting Explained
- Mixed-Member Proportional Representation Explained
This short video offers a depiction of an alternate to the single-member district plurality (or “first-past-the-post”) system
- Instant Runoff Voting Explained
IRV is explained in this video, including an argument about why it holds closer to the principles of democracy than our current voting system
Single-member district (or “first-past-the-post”) voting is explained by way of a fictitous electoral scenario, with emphasis on the tendency for such systems to result in a two-party system
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
- “Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities”
This source explores multiple studies and statistics. When well-qualified minority homeseekers contact housing providers to inquire about recently advertised housing units, they generally are just as likely as equally qualified white homeseekers to get an appointment and learn about at least one available housing unit. However, when differences in treatment occur, white homeseekers are more likely to be favored than minorities.
- “The Racist History of Chicago’s Housing Policies”
Chicago’s diversity is its strength, but its history of segregation is a portion of the story that is less frequently told. In this video, the history of Chicgao’s racial segregation is explained, with emphasis on policies such as redlining and restrictive covenants. A spotlight is placed on one African American realtor and his fight to integrate the Beverly neighborhood, as well as the emergence of public housing complexes.
- “Rural America’s Silent Housing Crisis”
This piece from The Atlantic highlights both the plight of rural Americans to find safe, affordable housing, as well as the difficulty of drawing attention to the problem in areas with low population density and no major media outlets.
- “Invisible People”
This site, run by a non-profit organization, provides video and text-based stories of homeless Americans.
- “Good Explanation of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis”
A short, easy-to-understand explanation for how the housing crisis in 2008 occurred
- Mapping Segregation
An interactive map from The New York Times allows users to explore racial segregation in 14 cities
- “The Color Of Law Details How U.S. Housing Policies Created Segregation’
National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro speaks with author Richard Rothstein about his new book, The Color of Law, which details how federal housing policies in the 1940s and ’50s mandated segregation and undermined the ability of black families to own homes and build wealth.
- Section 8 Vouchers Help The Poor — But Only If Housing Is Available’
A National Public Radio story that examines housing shortages for those families holding vouchers
- “A ‘Forgotten History’ Of How The U.S. Government Segregated America”
National Public Radio story about Richard Rothstein’s book, The Color of Law (link to book: http://www.epi.org/publication/the-color-of-law-a-forgotten-history-of-how-our-government-segregated-america/)
- Review of Evicted
A review of Matthew Desmond’s best-selling book Evicted (link: http://www.evictedbook.com/) by The Guardian
- Interactive Map: Minimum wage and housing prices
Map reveals minimum hourly wage needed to afford a 2-bedroom home in every state
- Interactive Map: Redlining
Map shows redlining ratings in many US cities in the 1930s and 1940s
- “Out of Reach: National Low Income Housing Coalition”
Original source of the interactive map above, as well as the full 282-page report providing statistics by state and by county.
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” (http://www.truth-out.org/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
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
- “Ten Myths About Affirmative Action”
A concise article that addresses several misconceptions about affirmative action
- “Affirmative Action Timeline”
A useful timeline of the history of affirmative action in the United States
- “Affirmative Action: Crash Course Government and Politics #32”
A quick but thorough video that offers exlpanations about the history of affirmative action
- “Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas”
New York Times article outlining the 2016 Supreme Court case in which Ms. Abigail Fisher challenged the University of Texas at Austin for denying her admission based on her identity as a white person
- “Between the Lines of the Affirmative Action Opinion”
Key passages from Justices of the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas.
- “Will We Still Need Affirmative Action in 20205?”
Written prior to the Fisher decision, Jordan Weissmann considers the changing demographics and attitudes in the United Sates and argues that Justice O’Connor’s question from the 2003 University of Michiagan cases appears to be answered by data demonstrating that progress has been very slow.
- “Opinion: Ending Affirmative Action Will Hurt Us All”
Columbia University sociologist Jennifer Lee reflects on the one-year anniversary of the Fisher decision and considers the effect of the practice on Asian American students in particular.
Conclusion: The Space Between Power and Powerlessness
- “Joseph Stiglitz on Fixing Economic Inequality”
In his new book, a Nobel laureate outlines how the huge disparity arose and the huge course correction needed to address it.
- “The Four Biggest Reasons Why Economic Inequality Is Bad for Society”
A 2014 article from Harvard professor T. M. Scanlon in which he argue that the current levels and trends in economic inequality in the US challege the legitimacy of our republic.
- “How to Solve Inequality in the United States”
Tim Worstall offers his suggestions, which include a radical re-thinking of the purpose of education
- The Implicit Associations Test
Portal provides links to more than a dozen IATs
- Strategies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice: Essential Principles for Program Design
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Tolerance” program offers 13 principles for helping students to reduce their level of prejudice
- “Will Racism End When Old Bigots Die?”
National Public Radio‘s “Code Switch” program addresses the common sentiment that racial inequality will end after all members of the generations that were socialized during a time of overt prejudice and discrimination are no longer with us.
- “Will Racism Ever End? Will I Ever Stop Being a Nigger?”
In this long-read from Utne Reader, Kevin Powell offers an optimistic yet realistic assessment of the future of race relations in the United States
- “Women on the March: A Lesson Plan on Imagining the Future of Feminism”
The future of feminism is clearly intersectional. This New York Times lesson plan outlines a plan for discussing these issues with students.
Credit: The author would like to thank research assistants Manilyn Gumapas and Linda Oglesbee for their help with these student resources.