Monday, February 24, 2014

Statistic or tragedy?

At church this past Sunday we were reminded of the dramatic disparity between High School graduation rates of those white students in our state versus students of color*. We also heard of the great many students who qualify for free or reduced rate lunch in our school district. At my workplace I've discovered that about one in six of our state's young people are food insecure. Yet despite hearing these statistics, many of us are not moved to take action in order to right some of these imbalances.  Why is that?

Many of us are "busy" with work and a wide variety of interests and activities, perhaps including more time utilizing social media, yet we know if something were a high enough priority we could find time for it. We are simply not motivated to take action by statistics.  However, when someone we know personally is touched by a disaster it becomes much more meaningful and likely we might work to assist in some way.

Our neighborhoods, schools, places of work and worship become our "comfort zones". All too often we have little to no significant interactions with people who are of differing economic, racial or cultural backgrounds.  When many of the Minneapolis Public Schools have student populations that are well over 50 percent children of color, we know that the racial integration efforts of previous decades are now failing.

I received a button "They are OUR children, be the village", while at the Golden Valley council meeting this past week. At this meeting the council rescinded their vote to disallow a builder to develop a site for young people to receive mental health counseling. Unfortunately they were too late on this matter, as the builder had since decided not to move forward, given the prior negative response by the council.

We've got some troubling trends when it comes to racial and income disparities. For those of us in the majority, it benefits us to personally get to know people from other racial or cultural groups.  We then discover we are much more similar than we are different, and when we learn from and help another person we too then become a better person.

*  84% white, 51% hispanic, 49% black, 42% native american

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