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Why Community Action Duluth supports the Un-Fair campaign

The Community Action Duluth board voted unanimously in August to join the Un-Fair campaign because the attitudes and policies inherent in white privilege have produced severe inequity and disparities in Duluth.

Angie Miller
Angie Miller

The Community Action Duluth board voted unanimously in August to join the Un-Fair campaign because the attitudes and policies inherent in white privilege have produced severe inequity and disparities in Duluth.

The Un-Fair campaign does not accuse individual white people of personal bigotry or racism. According to unfaircampaign.org, the purpose of the campaign is "To raise awareness about white privilege in our community, provide resources for understanding and action, and facilitate dialogue and partnership that result in fundamental, systemic change towards racial justice."

Community Action Duluth's focus on racial equity includes the definition from the Center for Assessment and Policy Development that "Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one's racial identify no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation.

This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them." This is why Community Action Duluth has programs that address disparities not just on an individual level, but also on a systemic/policy change level.

Community Action Duluth helps people to increase their incomes and assets and to become actively engaged in the community. Every day in our work at Community Action Duluth, we see the results of racism and discrimination in the inequities and disparities in income, employment, graduation rates, and homeownership rates for people of color.

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The following numbers tell an important story that illustrates the reality of the disparities in our community. The disparities have been well documented in the combined 2005-2009 American Community Survey (United States Census Bureau) for Duluth.

Most people know that the percentage of people of color in poverty in Duluth is substantially higher than for whites. The actual numbers are shocking.

  • The overall poverty rate in Duluth is about 22 percent.
  • However, 61 percent of African Americans and 48 percent of Native Americans are in poverty.
  • For African-Americans the poverty rate is 20 percent higher than it was in the year 2000. The statewide data compares groups with equal levels of education and finds a startling difference in unemployment rates for blacks and whites. In 2010, for Minnesota as whole, the unemployment rate for blacks with bachelor degrees is 8.9 percent, and for whites with bachelor degrees, the unemployment rate is 4.2 percent. The unemployment rate for blacks with high school diplomas is 22.7 percent, and for whites it is 8.4 percent.

    The racial disparity in high school graduation rates is a scandal. In 2009, 80 percent of white students graduated on time in Duluth, as opposed to 49 percent African-American students and 34 percent of Native American students. Efforts to address this disparity are being led by the United Way, and people of color are instrumental in coming up with solutions.

    Finally, the American Dream of homeownership is not a reality for many people. In 2010, the homeownership rate for white Minnesotans was 77 percent, and for non-white Minnesotans it was 40

    percent.

    Our community needs outspoken voices that say racism is unacceptable and white people need to step up and work to eliminate it. Paul Wellstone used to say that "We all do better when we all do better." Inequities hurt all of us. Check out the Un-Fair campaign website for events and ways that you can become involved and educated on these issues.

    The website is: www.unfaircampaign.org

    Angie Miller is the executive director of Community Action Duluth.

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