January 19, 2019

New Census Data Puts Winston In The Top 20 Worst Cities For Child Poverty

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Updated 1/21/19, 373 Words

The Triad Business Journal reported earlier this week that new census data identifies Winston-Salem as the 20th worst city, among major cities in the nation when it comes to child poverty. According to the Triad Business Journal, “more than one-third of the city’s children live in poverty.”  Spectrum News posted a solid follow-up to TBJ’s reporting, giving some context to these latest census numbers.

Triad Business Journal’s reporting on alarming child poverty rates in Winston, as well as today’s Journal article on racial disparities in WS/FC Schools,  should frame this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities in Winston. Winston is still racially segregated and unequal, and it’s children who suffer most for the racist sins of the past.

Of course, Winston has been confronted by troubling numbers in the past and not taken the problem seriously.  A 2015 study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty threw a wrench in the City of Arts and Innovation’s hype machine. As professor Craig J.Richardson characterized the study in the Winston-Salem Journal, “If you’re born poor here, the odds of climbing up the economic ladder are only worse in two Indian reservations in South Dakota.”

Bad press about poverty outside of Winston’s gilded downtown led Mayor Allen Joines to form a task force and tackle poverty with all deliberate speed (i.e., not very quickly). Joines announced the formation of a Poverty Thought Force in October 2015. But the who’s who of institutional players in Winston didn’t reach their conclusion until February 2017. Key recommendations such as appointing a poverty czar have still not been implemented.

In August 2018 Mayor Joines announced a new “Think Orange” campaign to combat hunger and food insecurity in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. But even that isn’t a very bold initiative. Mayor Joines’ Poverty Thought Force was a farce.

More damning data this week from the census shows that the thoughts of Allen Joines and his allies have failed to reduce poverty in Winston. This King Day, let’s remember Dr. King and the inspiring civil rights icons of the past and demand bold action from Mayor Joines and the City Council to address poverty in our segregated city!

 

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