The Whiteness Of Poverty

by Patrick Appel

Race Poverty

Yesterday, a reader took Paul Ryan to task for ignoring rural poverty. Waldman makes related points:

Everyone knows that minority populations in America, particularly blacks and Hispanics, suffer from disproportionate levels of poverty. For the moment, we don’t have to go into why that is and what can be done about it. I just want to note something that seldom gets mentioned: the actual racial makeup of America’s poor. In fact, when I tried to find a chart laying it out to paste into this post, I couldn’t find one. So I took poverty data and population data and made one myself (this is as of 2012) … The point of this chart is that even though blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately poor, the largest group of poor people in America is … white people.

Despite that fact, when you say “the poor,” what pops into most people’s heads is an image of a black person, probably due in no small part to the fact that poverty in America is represented in the media as a largely black phenomenon (I’m not just saying that; there’s research backing that up).