Inequality and racism: How economic improvement can be helpful?

Today I have watched this video where Professor Chetty, Professor of Economics at Harvard explains how disadvantaged neighborhood amplify racial inequality. In my microaggression post, I asked the following question: why ethnic minority group or other groups who faced discrimination and microaggression do the same acts although they understand the bitterness of discrimination?

After watching that interview, I think maybe inequality and economic situation can explain part of the answer of the above question. Professor Chetty said in his interview, which is based on his recent paper, that kids who grow up in less advantaged neighborhood are less likely to go to college, find a decent job, and live in a better situation compare to their parents. His research is based on the “moving opportunity experiment” where several randomly selected households in less advantaged and poor neighborhood got “housing voucher” to move to better neighborhoods. The outcome of kids who move with their counterparts who do not have such opportunities reveals some shocking facts in about US society: the place you grew up is matter a lot. In economic literature, this fact is called as “inequality of opportunity (IOP).” Professor Chetty continued that this fact exacerbates situation of the African-american kids much than whites since there is a gap between black and white and as a result growing up in bad neighborhood makes this gap even worse. This fact, according to him, will be translated as racial inequality. As we all know, racial inequality can explain part of racism in society.

We all here some comments from even ordinary people, who think that they are not racist, that look, black people are troublesome, the crime rate is higher among black, or there are relatively more black people in jail compared with whites. These comments are all racist even though the teller of them don’t mind. Racial inequality and higher IOP among black is the main cause of those facts and if we want to solve the problem, we have to know and understand the cause of an issue rather than its consequences.

In my view, based on professor Chetty’s research, disadvantaged neighborhood amplifies racial inequality. Those african-american kids grow up in less advantaged and poor neighborhood don’t have any opportunity to learn about discrimination. They don’t have any good role model. They could not imagine to have a good career in future and they never learn about microaggression and this kind of stuff even thought they are the victims of racial inequality and discriminatory behaviors. So although, they are victims of microaggression behaviors, they may reproduce discriminatory behaviors facing with other minority groups and this cycle continues!

In conclusion, I think other than spreading knowledge about these issues (discrimination, racism, microaggression, ….) , we need think deeply about the main problem of the US society: Inequality of Opportunity. I think reduction of racial gap, income inequality, and gender gap can also be even more helpful to alleviate the microaggression problem.

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