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Mary Dean: Racial disparities still exist

  • Published Friday, May 30, 2014, at 12 a.m.

People want to believe that we live in a post-racial society because we have a black president. But that is far from the truth. I see more racial division, and the disparities between races have widened.

Here are just a few examples:

•  Governors across the country, including Sam Brownback, have created health care disparities for hundreds of thousands of people (many of them minorities) by refusing to accept Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. Brownback even signed a law that requires an act of the Legislature to expand Medicaid through the ACA.

•  Lawmakers and secretaries of state, including in Kansas, have enacted voter-suppression laws. These laws do nothing but create unfair disparities for thousands of people.

•  Asians and blacks are unemployed for longer stretches of time than members of other ethnic groups. The unemployment rate among Kansans who are black is nearly three times the rate among whites.

•  The issue of mass incarceration disparities between minorities and whites should be discussed and resolved. Read Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

•  Across this country, black and brown men are being harassed by law enforcement officers and racially profiled with traffic stops.

•  Black students attending USD 259 are being suspended and expelled at higher rates than whites.

•  Black and brown Americans are having more difficulty than whites getting loans from banks to obtain their American dream in purchasing a home.

•  African-American children are disproportionately more likely than other children to be placed in foster care. In 2011, more than half of the children entering foster care in the U.S. were children of color.

People quote the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when it’s convenient for them. But one of King’s quotes should be used at all times: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Racial discrimination and disparities are alive and well all around us, and “we the people” must rise above racial bigotry and come together for the betterment of the human race and future of our children.

Mary Dean of Wichita is president of Kansas Justice Advocate Inc.

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