Still so far to go

Let’s face it - racially inequalities still exist, even in today’s more progressive society; but with events throughout February’s Black History Month dedicated to education, awareness and advoacy, the discussion of equality has only just begun

| 1/30/13 9:25pm

Black History Month is more than the cursorily made presentations students were forced to digest year after year from their teachers in grade school. More even, the indolently assembled four-page papers we had to write on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, or Harriet Tubman (with at least three credible sources) in our first years of college is not what Black History Month is about, either. Tomorrow marks the start of the month of commemoration, and while students across the country will put aside time to honor the achievements, struggles and heritages of African Americans alike, many other students, of all ethnicities, will still remain unengaged.

But at Grand Valley State University, February brings about not only reminders of where we’ve been, but also a reminder of how far we’ve yet to go.

In 2009, the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project released a report detailing disparities in household income in the U.S. among the different races. The findings are based on the Pew Research Center’s analysis of data from Survey of Income and Program Participation, an economic questionnaire distributed periodically to tens of thousands of American households by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The results found that the median wealth of white households was 20 times that of African American households, with numbers dropping from $113,149 to $5,677 in 2009.

“These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009,” researchers wrote in the report.

The issue of civil rights, though significantly improved since the initial movement began, is still very real. Racial discrimination and inequalities exist worldwide, and occur on a daily basis, whether we notice them or not. So take some time this month to attend some of the events – from Allendale to Pew Campus, from fraternities to leadership seminars – the topics are many, and the potential for growth is endless.

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