Class is the New Race: Economic Disparities in the Americas

If you didn’t have to think about money, what would you think about?

 

Would you spend more time with family? Work more on your spirituality? Would you see the world more often?

 

The money question is common inquiry that really probes people to contemplate how much of a factor money is in their lives. And the answer is that it is a huge issue—for 99% of us.

 

This leads to the question: is class the new race?

 

Now of course, the world isn’t perfect and the color of our skin will always be judged as long as ignorance is alive. But economic opportunities, as President Obama described in his economic mobility speech last month, may very well be “the defining challenge of our time.”

 

The most prominent part of that speech was that it touched on the conundrum of being poor in the wealthiest nation on earth.

 

“A new study shows that disparities in education, mental health, obesity, absent fathers, isolation from church, isolation from community groups -- these gaps are now as much about growing up rich or poor as they are about anything else . . . So the fact is this:  The opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race, and that gap is growing . . . In fact, statistics show not only that our levels of income inequality rank near countries like Jamaica and Argentina, but that it is harder today for a child born here in America to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our wealthy allies,” he said.

 

And as a person seeing Argentine neighborhoods firsthand for this past week, I can attest to the fact that they are strikingly similar to New York City neighborhoods.

 

South American and Caribbean countries have long been known for their jarring economic disparities, which like America are tied into other political and social factors. In 2010, Argentina was known as the third South American country with the biggest rich/poor divide, according to a study publicized by Merco Press. However, Argentina has been fighting to lessen that economic gap through better paying jobs and more education, the World Bank reported.

 

Nevertheless, the financial district in Buenos Aires is just 20 minutes from a neighborhood that every local warns tourists not to visit after dark, La Boca. It’s analogous to the Upper East Side in NYC, home to Park, Lexington, and 5th Ave being just a 20 minute train ride from Hunts Point, the Bronx—the poorest congressional district in the United States.

 

Wealth distribution is one of the most pressing issues the world at large is facing. What steps do you believe can be taken to alleviate economic injustices here in the U.S and abroad? More government funded programs? Tax breaks? Rising to a living wage? Lets discuss!

 

(Pictured: Financial District in Buenos Aires, Argentina)