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Kirwan Update

March/April 2009

Post-Racialism or Targeted Universalism? Cheryl Staats, Research Assistant Christy Rogers, Senior Research Associate

The ubiquitous impact of the recent economic downturn has had a profound effect on the U.S. and global economies. The effects of the recession are seemingly everywhere, including long lines at the unemployment office, tightened household budgets, decreased consumer spending, and business closures. While lawmakers scrambled to pass an economic stimulus package to stabilize and revive the U.S. economy, the troubles plaguing our economy have already been devastating to many. Regrettably, the far-reaching effects of this recession have been felt unevenly. Women, manufacturing employees, rural residents, and communities of color have been disproportionately burdened by the financial turmoil. United for a Fair Economy reports in The Silent Depression: State of the Dream 2009 that, while the overall U.S. recession has lasted approximately one year, people of color have been experiencing a recession for nearly five years, with the most recent downturn provoking a depression. Communities of color fare no better in the long-term projections. In a 2009 article titled “Without Adequate Public Spending, A Catastrophic Recession for Some,” the Economic Policy Institute asserts that black and Hispanic unemployment could reach as high as 18.2% and 13.1%, respectively, in 2010 if a recovery package is not implemented; in contrast, the projected figure for whites is approximately 9%. In spite of these discouraging statistics, the fresh memory of Obama’s recent election generates a considerable temptation for many Americans to declare that skin color is no longer a barrier in our society. This mindset propagates the misconception that we are “beyond race” or that “race doesn’t matter any more.” Those who espouse these claims of a “post-racial” society are often eager to embrace race-neutral policy design and implementation. This racial blindness fails to account for the fact that race-neutral design is not necessarily race-neutral in its effect. Given that people are situated differently in our economic and social landscape, treating everyone as though they are the same will not lift everyone equally. Universal policies that are race-neutral do not address the multiple opportunity barriers that confront communities of color. Furthermore, history illustrates the pitfalls of these universal programs, as the programs in FDR’s New Deal tended to benefit whites disproportionately while often exacerbating the disparities between whites and non-whites. For example, the “universal” program of Social Security was based on a non-universal standard: able-bodied white males working outside the home full-time for pay. Because of exclusions of agricultural and domestic workers (built-in to appease Southern resistance to the act), 65% of African Americans were initially denied its protections. Moreover, unpaid household labor and child rearing responsibilities are still not counted toward Social Security earnings. Women today who take time off to raise children or select careers with more flexible working hours will earn less, on average, then their male counterparts and will therefore have lower Social Security benefits upon retirement. Mindful of the shortcomings of universal policies, we advocate a targeted universal approach that rejects a blanket universal and instead captures how people are (continued on page 15)

INSIDE: • Race /Ethnicity Journal • Media Update • Kirwan Institute Blog • Talking about Race • International Perspectives • Subprime Loans Q&A • Kirwan Institute E-Newsletter • Events • Faculty/Staff • Education Update • GIS Update

Executive Notes It is widely accepted that the entire country, if not the entire world, is facing the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. As in the Depression era, Professor President Obama has john a. powell challenged Americans not just to tinker with our institutions but to make transformative change. As Rahm Emanuel has said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” The hope is that we can turn this crisis into an opportunity to rebuild American institutions, to fix our health care system, to set the platform for a green economy, and provide new, sustainable pathways to opportunity for all Americans. The New Deal was the program designed to seize opportunities during the Depression, to unleash a surge in American energy that would forever change our education system and our economy and generate unimaginable growth in the middle class. As we look back to the lesson of the 1930s and 40s and consider the similarities with our current economic crisis, we need to be mindful of the failures of the New Deal lest we make the same mistakes again. Some of the best and most universal programs of the New Deal deepened the disparity between people of color and women on one hand and white men on the other. Virtually all these programs were neutral in word and purported to be universal in design; however, none of them was universal or neutral in effect. There are many reasons for this, and some of these concerns are very much with us today. Let’s consider a few of these programs. The Old Age Insurance program (OAI) is often cited as the most universal of all American (continued on page 2)

Executive Notes

(continued from page 1)

programs. It was part of a larger initiative that included unemployment insurance, but unlike unemployment insurance where the states continue to have quite a bit of discretion, OAI was administered by the federal government with one set of rules. But here is the problem: the program defined what types of work would count both for unemployment and Old Age Insurance. Three categories were excluded: agricultural work, domestic work, and the work that was done in the home taking care of one’s family. Even though the legislation used the word “work,” it operationally defined “work” based on the experience of white males. OAI largely excluded blacks, Latinos, and most women from its pathway to opportunity and security. Let’s consider another program. President Clinton has called the GI Bill the most transformative and far reaching legislation in creating the American middle class. He may be right, but it was not universal. While there was no mention of gender, 98% of the GIs were men, and blacks were largely unable to take full advantage of the GI Bill (DeMuz, “On Books: The G.I. Bill and its Limitations”). Before turning to the present, let’s look more carefully at two provisions of the GI Bill. First, it assisted the returning GIs in acquiring homes and businesses. Secondly, it enabled millions of Americans to go to college, transforming our education system and strengthening our economy. While it is true that blacks—through no fault of their own—were underrepresented in the military, some did gain entry, and they were eligible for housing and educational assistance. But there were problems even for this select few. Programs administered by local draft boards filtered out non-white GIs. If that was not enough, for the very few who managed to get through this, they faced a disturbing reality. Where were they to buy a house or attend a college in the 1940s and 50s in racially segregated America? President Johnson acknowledged these failures of the New Deal and set out to correct them, but he did not succeed. As we consider the opportunity presented by the current economic crisis to remake our institutions and create pathways to opportunity for all Americans, how do we avoid the limitations of the first New Deal? It is not difficult if we are deliberate. The first lesson is that efforts designed to be universal seldom are. Typically, the failure lies either in the design, the implementation, or in the administration—who oversees 2

the program and what the guidelines are. Finally, if programs are designed to confront structures that are themselves segmented and uneven, these problems can be reproduced by the programs. Remember, many black GIs were not prepared for college because they attended underresourced, segregated schools. To correct this, we need to do a few things. First, it must be clear that our goal is to both enhance opportunity for all while reducing the disparities between historically marginalized groups and political majority groups. Secondly, when we conceive of programs for designated populations, we must understand the conditions of those populations. For example, the evacuation plan from New Orleans was heavily dependent on cars, but many blacks did not have cars. Their circumstances were not adequately considered. The approach—the strategy—I am calling for is “targeted universalism.” The goal is to benefit everyone while understanding that people’s circumstances and differences do matter. This approach is not just about race, and it should be considered for any broad policy or spending initiative. I want to address two common challenges to the targeted universalism approach. One is the assertion that all the shortcomings of the New Deal are behind us, and that today’s programs would not produce such unevenness. This is wrong at every turn. Consider two current examples: construction jobs and the subprime crisis. A substantial portion of economic recovery funding is targeted to jobs in the construction industry. It is an accepted fact that this industry is underrepresented by people of color and women. While people of color are underrepresented in the construction trades, they are overrepresented in neighborhoods facing massive foreclosures. There is often a failure to see the unevenness for communities impacted by foreclosures. One of the reasons for this is that the housing credit system engaged in redlining black and Latino communities causing them to be undercapitalized. As global capital expanded, new unregulated lending institutions and products focused on exploiting the “opportunity” in these markets. The Obama administration has begun to recognize some of this unevenness and the limits of a simple universal approach, but it should go much further. How will we make sure that these communities of color have access to both

housing and the new global credit market in the future? The final claim is that we can do this work without paying attention to how groups are situated. In matters of race, this is preferable as it is less divisive. I maintain that if the effort is universal and targeted, it need not be divisive. While I strongly support the administration’s increased sensitivity to the unevenness of groups, a deliberate and robust targeted universalism approach must inform new policies and spending at every level if we are to avoid the failures of the past.  

john a. powell, Executive Director

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity is a university-wide interdisciplinary research institute. Its goal is to deepen our understanding of the causes of and solutions to racial and ethnic disparities and hierarchies. This includes an explicit focus not only on Ohio and the United States, but also on the Americas and our larger global community. Our primary focus is to increase general understanding that, despite many differences, human destinies are intertwined. Thus, the institute explores and illustrates both our diversity and common humanity in real terms. The institute brings together a diverse and creative group of scholars and researchers from various disciplines to focus on the histories, present conditions, and the future prospects of racially and ethnically marginalized people. Informed by real-world needs, its work strives to meaningfully influence policies and practices. The institute also focuses on the interrelatedness of race and ethnicity with other factors, such as gender, class, and culture, and how these are embedded in structures and systems. Collaboration with other institutions and organizations around the world and ongoing relationships with real people, real communities, and real issues are a vital part of its work. The institute employs many approaches to fulfilling its mission: original research, publications, comparative analyses, surveys, convenings, and conferences. It is part of a rich intellectual community and draws upon the insight and energy of the faculty and students at Ohio State. While the institute focuses on marginalized racial and ethnic communities, it understands that these communities exist in relation to other communities and that fostering these relationships deepens the possibility of change. It is the sincere hope and goal of all of us that the institute gives transformative meaning to both our diversity and our common humanity.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation 2008 Annual Report

john powell Featured on Kellogg Foundation Annual Report Cover


eaders of the 2008 Kellogg Foundation annual report may find a familiar face dramatically displayed on its cover. john powell, executive director of the Kirwan Institute, was one of two faces featured in the report’s cover photo, along with the title, Facing Up to the Future: What do today’s children need from us now?

Facing Up to the Future:

What do today’s children need from us now?

Interestingly enough, while powell is pictured face to face with his cover “co-star,” Anjelica Bustamante, he never met her. The two were photographed separately, in different cities, while the cover was created through the magic of digital design. Of powell, the report notes, “His frequent interactions with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have helped to shape the organization’s thinking about racial justice and influenced its vision of a society ‘where opportunity is not limited by race, ethnicity, gender or class, and where all people recognize and embrace the universal responsibility that each person has for the welfare of every other person.’”

“One of the goals of our annual report was to lift up voices that harmonize with our mission and vision,” said Dianne Price, the Kellogg Foundation’s director of public affairs. “Professor powell’s messages on structural racism inspire and guide us as we work toward creating a nation where all children thrive. The cover design was intended to be stark, bold, and visual to compel readers to look inside. Professor powell’s face, eyeballto-eyeball with Anjelica Bustamante’s—a young woman from southside Detroit—was intended to convey the simple message that we, as a nation, need to pay attention to what our children need.” More photos and an article by powell (pages 18–19) are featured among five guest authors’ contributions in the guest essay section of the report. In the article, How do we create a society where all children thrive?, powell says, “Our efforts to reach all children require a fundamental change in the way we think, as well as the way our society, community, schools, and families are structured. …We have communities in which children cannot thrive because they are permanently at the margins along virtually every important indicator of health and well-being.” The Kellogg Foundation works with communities to create conditions that help propel all children to achieve success. The full Kellogg Foundation annual report is available online at  

Kirwan Institute Affiliated Faculty and Staff Initiative Kirwan Institute Seeks Affiliated Faculty and Staff

The Kirwan Institute is seeking informal partnerships with Ohio State faculty and staff who are engaged in research, scholarship, instruction, administration, or service that connects to one or more of the institute’s major research themes related to race, ethnicity, and social justice. The Kirwan Institute Affiliated Faculty and Staff Initiative—an expansion of the current Affiliated Faculty Program—is designed to create opportunities for meaningful collaboration across disciplines at Ohio State and to mutually enhance the capacity of the institute and the university to engage in relevant research, instruction, service, and policymaking.    For information about the Kirwan Institute Affiliated Faculty and Staff Initiative, go to kirwaninstitute. org/about-us/get-affiliated/affiliated-faculty-staff.php or contact Tom Rudd, senior researcher, at (614) 247‑8458 or


Media Update Kirwan Hosts Dialogue with National Media about Race Kathy Baird, Director of Communications


irwan Institute leaders shared their insight on race in the United States today with leading national media February 5 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. “Mapping the Racial Divide in the Obama Era” was the theme of the media dialogue led by john powell, executive director of the Kirwan Institute, and Andrew Grant-Thomas, deputy director. Participants included the Associated Press, National Public Radio, Newsweek, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Washington Informer, and the Times Picayune. Also represented were the Children’s Defense Fund, George Washington University Prime Movers journalism institute, and the National Association of Black Journalists. Key discussion points featured how the extreme success of a single African American such as President Obama does not automatically level the playing field for all others after a long history of disparities, although Obama’s success is a positive sign of progress. Statistics illustrating racial disparities in income, health, and education, including neighborhood structural barriers to opportunity, were presented. A discussion of “talking about race” covered topics such as “implicit bias” (inherent hidden biases), the importance of discussing race, “colorblind” racism, and framing the message, particularly in the context of media coverage of race. Other topics included structural racialization—barriers established unintentionally within the systems in our society. Discussions of the national economic crisis focused on the fact that racial minorities are especially hard-hit by the current economic crisis, including their high involvement in subprime mortgages and auto industry jobs. Also discussed were the impact of the national economic stimulus plan, and targeted universalism (see page 1 of this newsletter)—how new policies may not be universally beneficial due to structural barriers and unique challenges faced by some marginalized groups. Within two weeks after the media dialogue event, participating news outlets had tapped Kirwan as their source for a variety of news stories carried nationally. NPR’s “Tell Me More” interviewed john powell twice: on Wednesday, February 11, as part of a three-person interview panel discussing, “Are We Living in a Post-Racial America?” and again on Friday, February 20, regarding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech about race in America. The Associated Press quoted Andrew Grant-Thomas on Wednesday, February 18, about Holder’s speech, and those comments were in turn picked up by a host of other national and international news services including: Google News, CBS News, FOX News, National Public Radio, and MSNBC, among others. USA Today quoted john powell on Monday, February 9, regarding the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. On a broader scale, other recent news coverage of the Kirwan Institute was carried by Chicago, Newsweek, the New York Times, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and television stations in Denver and Tehran, and another story is underway by The Economist. For further details, go to Kirwan Institute leaders will continue to actively work with the media to share their analysis and insight on issues related to race and ethnicity.  


Fourth Issue of Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts v From the Editors


1 “Panopticism,” from Punish & Discipline: The Birth of the Prison MICHEL FOUCAULT

13 Locking Down Civil Rights: Criminal Record-based Discrimination

The latest issue of the journal Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, 21 Life Capacity Beyond Reentry: A Critical Examination of Racism and Prisoner Reentry Reform in the Us published by the Kirwan Institute, explores the implication of race and ethnicity in systems of secondary education across the globe. Scheduled for spring 2009 45 Extirpate and Expel: On the Penal Management of Postcolonial publication, the issue opens with an excerpt from Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Migrants in the European Union Paulo Freire that underlines the distinction between oppressive and transformative 53 Crime, Punishment, and Ethnic Minorities in England and Wales forms of education. According to Freire, oppressive forms of education discount the 69 Moralizing security: “Corrections” experiences and cultures of those being educated, while transformative forms engage and the Post-Apartheid Prison all participants in dialogue. The outcome of the 89struggle of developing countries An Institutional suicide Machine: Discrimination against sentenced Aboriginal Womenof in Canada and marginalized populations to participate in theFederally transformation their societies depends on whether the educational environment is oppressive orPrison transformative. 121 Convict Criminology: Voices from

Volume 2 Number 2 • Spring 2009

Volume 2 Number 2 • Spring 2009


Race / ethnicity Multidisciplinary Global Contexts Volume 2 Number 2 • Spring 2009




Race / ethnicity





We focus this issue on secondary education, which provides many children with their 137 Incarceration and Beyond: A Personal Perspective final, formal education, and on the character and content of that education. In doing 151 Incarceration Data: selected Comparisons so, we recognize that formal learning environments must be considered within larger 157 Erratum cultural, societal, national, and even global contexts to account for the content and 159 List of Contributors impact of the educational experience. EGInALD A. WILkInsOn

compiled by CHARLEs PATTOn III

Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts Call for Papers Human Rights, Social Justice, and the Impact of Race (Spring 2010)

Submissions due May 16, 2009 Race and ethnicity are all too often implicated in the leading human rights and social justice issues in the world today. Does the notion of human rights have the power to embrace and unify people across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, wealth, and nationality in a way that more context-specific terms like racial justice and civil rights do not? What are the seeds of a viable global human rights movement and in what institutions, structures, and places, if anywhere, have such seeds been planted? At a time when social justice issues are not addressed unless they are made subjects of documentaries or receive celebrity endorsement, how are racial injustices spotlighted and by whom? What avenues exist or have the potential to address human rights issues?

Intersections of Race and Gender (Autumn 2010)

Submissions due September 2009 What is the relationship between gender and racial discrimination? Is gender discrimination likely to be most severe in places where racial discrimination is also severe, or are the two largely independent phenomena? Why is that the case? How do race and gender intersect with each other to mediate access

race and Secondary education:


For more information about the journal or to subscribe, INDIANA go to  

Content, Contexts, Impacts

to social opportunity? By what means does the intersection of “women” and racial/ethnic “other” as identities so often result in the creation of a subclass considered expendable and exploitable? More generally, what are the consequences of discriminatory behaviors, institutions, and structures acting at the intersection of race and gender? What can be done? How might we celebrate the intersections of race and gender?

Mediating Race and Labor (Winter 2011)

Submissions due December 2009 Submissions are invited that explore the role of race and ethnicity in mediating labor at all levels. What is the impact of race on national and international labor flows and the global economy? How does race shape the development and direction of labor movements? What factors account for the existence, or not, and strength of organized labor in different national contexts? How does race determine occupation so that certain tasks become racialized, and to what degree and in what ways do certain racialized groups of workers enjoy privileges as workers and citizens? How does labor contribute to the creation of new social classes/castes or otherwise impact cultures? How have or might governments, NGOs, and other groups address issues of race and labor?  

Please send manuscript submissions to Eavon Mobley ( See Style Guidelines ( to prepare your document in accordance with the style guidelines of Race/Ethnicity. Submission of artwork for the cover that relates to the theme of the issue is welcome. See for submission guidelines. 5

Talking about Race A Nation of Cowards By Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Professor of History, with a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder touched a raw nerve this Black History Month. During a speech at a Department of Justice African American History Month program, he remarked: “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” He went on to say: “Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”1 When the mainstream media circulated his remarks, political conservatives expressed righteous indignation. “We are not a nation of cowards!” they fumed. As they prattled on, purporting to defend the nation’s honor, they proved Holder’s point. As political conservatives are prone to do, they skirted the issue. Rather than have “frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us,” as Holder urged the employees of the Justice Department to do, they chose to score points with their political base by insinuating that the attorney general, and by inference the president, had slandered the American people. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the political spectrum, many agreed with the substance of what Holder said while simultaneously expressing regret at the way he said it. “It was a poor choice of words,” lamented more than a few. Unfortunately, this approach to the issue also led away from the kind of candid dialogue that Holder urged people to have. Rather than help average Americans “come to grips with” the country’s racial past and “contemplate, in a truly meaningful way, the diverse future it is slated to have,” far too many cut the conversation short, afraid of upsetting the skeptical and derailing future discussions.


As someone who studies American history for a living, I can say without equivocation that Attorney General Holder was correct—we, as a nation, have been and continue to be “afraid to confront our racial past, and our racial present.” This is simply beyond dispute. In the most recent presidential campaign, for example, we tried our best to dance around the issue of race. Even Barack Obama attempted to sidestep the issue, embracing a campaign strategy that deemphasized his connections to the African American community for fear of alienating white voters. As someone who routinely leads discussions both inside and outside of the classroom on race and racism in American society, I can also say that the attorney general’s frank words, although biting, were more than appropriate. In fact, the kind of candor that Holder displayed is exactly what average Americans need to hear. For far too long, we have tiptoed around race and racism, refusing to talk about these issues in open and honest ways. We need to realize, though, that when we do, people’s feelings will get hurt. Race and racism are fundamental to American society, woven tightly into the national fabric. Discussing them, therefore, is an exercise in self-criticism, which is never easy and often painful. But it can also be cathartic. We need not shy away from the kind of candor that Holder exhibited, especially since he was right. Instead, we ought to encourage it. Bitter medicine is often the cure to what ails us.   1

Racial Shock Waves By Tom Rudd, Senior Researcher

Much of the toxic waste on America’s racial landscape can be slowly cleaned up with education, legislation, and a growing awareness that racial inequality has pernicious consequences not just for people of color but for the entire society. But, some of this waste is more durable because it flows not from what many Americans think they believe about race but from what they really feel about race. In his book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, Drew Westen tells us that “irrespective of what we may feel and believe consciously, most white Americans—including many who hold consciously progressive values and attitudes—harbor negative associations toward people of color.” While these negative associations, commonly called “implicit bias” among social scientists, reside in our unconscious mind and are often invisible to us, they have the power to dramatically influence our perception of the world.

So, while many readers—even the most enlightened—think they think that the New York Post chimpanzee cartoon is racist, their less egalitarian unconscious attitudes about race tell them that it is okay. More significantly, the Obama presidency is stimulating a subtle shift in America’s racial paradigm. The reality that a man of color occupies what many call the most powerful position on earth runs counter to prevailing notions of racial hierarchy and distorts the persistent view of whiteness. When White House social secretary Desirée Rogers says that she wants the art collection in the White House to be more diverse, she triggers feelings of resentment and indignation—both conscious and unconscious—among many Americans. After all, it is the WHITE house. As President Obama appoints more people of color to pivotal and powerful positions in his administration and ordinary people of color are emboldened to believe that racial justice is possible in America, a tectonic pressure is building between the prevailing view of racial hierarchy and the promise

Development The work of the Kirwan Institute is made possible by the generous support of numerous people and organizations. External funding includes the following:

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The African American Male Project Advanced Racial Equity Planning Project

The Ford Foundation

General operations The Diversity Advancement Project The Integration Initiative

The Presidents’ Council (of Cleveland) Regionalism and its effects on African Americans in Cleveland

Public Interest Projects of a true Democracy. In the coming months and years, we should expect the shock waves produced by this pressure to take many forms, from hate crimes to cartoons that liken our president to a dead chimpanzee. The suggestion, at any level, that the New York Post chimpanzee cartoon is not blatantly racist requires a degree of naïveté that is incomprehensible even among those who suffer the most acute cases of racial “colorblindness.” It seems reasonable to conclude that as this cartoon passed through the editorial process at the Post—an educated group of professionals—its racist aura was acutely perceptible. Perhaps that is why it was published.  

Fulfilling the Dream Fund (National Fund) “A New Paradigm for Affirmative Action: Targeting Within Universalism”

The Tides Foundation Core operating support

The Open Society Institute

School Desegregation Project Core Operating Support Framing Racial Justice through Emotive Strategies

Democracy Alliance General operations

For more information on making a commitment to excellence with a donation to the institute, please contact: Heather A. Schwenker Director of Development Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (614) 688-5429  


International Perspectives Africom: The Proliferation of War Elsadig Elsheikh, Research Associate


n February 6, 2007, President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the creation of U.S. Africa Command, or Africom, with the objective to “better enable the Department of Defense and other elements of the U.S. government to work in concert and with partners to achieve a more stable environment in which political and economic growth can take place.” Nonetheless, most African governments refused to host Africom—except the government of Liberia—and many politicians, scholars, and human rights activists uttered strong opposition to the creation of Africom. In fact, it has been called the new “scramble for Africa.” According to the Africom web site, the U.S. government insists that Africom “will in no way infringe on the sovereignty of any African nation,” and has nothing to do with militarization of the continent. But looking at the records of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and other military programs that the United States engaged in with more than 45 African countries tells a different reality. The FMS agreements revenue of the U.S. increased in the last six years by more than 166% (from $12 billion in 2002 to $32 billion in 2008). The U.S. has sold weapons to 174 states and territories during the 2006/07 fiscal years, and according to Williams Hartung and Frida Berrigan of the New America Foundation, “U.S. arms and military training played a role in 20 of the world’s 27 major wars in 2006/07,” and “the dollar value of the U.S. weapons transfers and weapons orders destined for zones of conflict during that two-year period was $11.2 billion.” In Africa, the United States provided military training and weapons to Algeria, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda—all of which were involved or continue to engage in a conflict or war. To presume that Africom’s focus is “on war prevention rather than war-fighting” is disingenuous.

Kirwan Staff Member Publishes Book on Darfur

After all, when President Bush said that Africom will not only improve security, but will promote economic growth, development, education, health, and democracy in Africa, not everyone was persuaded. If Africom’s mission is to carry on development projects and bring stability into the continent, then why do we need the military, the African civil society asked. They suggested that instead of increasing funding for militarization, the Africom funds should be reallocated to serve Africa’s concerns in sustainable development, combat deadly diseases, reduce food crises, and once and for all assist in the cancellation of Africa’s foreign debts. Obviously, for most African activists, the U.S. State Department and the United States Agency for International Development are the ones responsible for economic assistance and development partnership, and not the Department of Defense. Military aid, military training, and weapons sales to African countries serve only the interests of global capital to have access to, control of, and competition over Africa’s natural resources. Inherently, this militaristic approach does not consider the amount of past and present suffering to millions of human lives and the social setbacks endured by most African societies. Africa neither needs to be a testing playground for new “toys” from the Pentagon nor a charity to feed itself. Rather, the continent needs the following: complete cancellation of the unjustifiable foreign debts, removal of unfair trade exchange barriers enforced by the World Trade Organization, application of human rights principles to deal with the worsening food crisis, and support of peoples’ struggles for democratization and social justice. The new administration needs to know that Africom and the militarization of Africa discount its admirable goal of ending foreign wars. Such militarization will increase warfare and lead to disastrous outcomes, not only in Africa but for the rest of the world.  

In recent years, the Darfur conflict experienced unprecedented global media coverage that focused on the dramatization of the conflict instead of a serious analysis of its root causes, which are the policies of underdevelopment, unequal distribution of wealth, and undemocratic practices in Sudan since independence. This book argues that in order to understand the Darfur conflict, examination of the State formation in the context of colonial effects is important. Further, it argues that Darfur crisis in itself illustrates the failure of the Sudanese elite’s ideology, and the colonial/eurocentric model of nation-state that it is in place since independence.Without assessing the colonial legacy and its role in planting the seats of such violent conflict, the alienated elite class, and the inflicted policies of dependency upon newly independent countries, we will do no justice to the peoples’ suffering in Darfur and elsewhere. These policies of colonialism that were based on ‘divide and conquer’; which didn’t cease after independence had allowed the Sudanese State, by acting as a client State, to continue oppressing and marginalizing the vast majority of the Sudanese people.

Elsadig Elsheikh, research associate at the Kirwan Institute, is author of a new book on the political situation in Darfur. The following is an excerpt from the book, reprinted with permission of the publisher. Darfur: Domesticating Coloniality – The failure of the nationstate model in post-colonial Sudan. Publisher: VDM – Germany (December 12, 2008)

Elsadig Elsheikh Elsadig Elsheikh is a research associate at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University. Elsadig worked with various advocacy and grassroots organizations that focus on human rights, social justice, and anti-racism in Sudan, Greece, Colombia, and the United States.


his book examines the root causes of the Darfur conflict by exploring the policies and attitudes of the colonial rulers and the national elite who imposed a nation-state model by relying on particular institutions (the education system, the law, and the military) upon the Sudanese people. This model has contributed greatly to the cycle of violence in post-colonial Sudan. The Darfur conflict can neither be understood nor resolved if the State’s institutions and the more deep-rooted centerperipheries confrontations are not examined. Therefore, when



Elsadig Elsheikh

rhetorical argument is limited to a single proposition (Arabs vs. Africans) ‘that history repeats itself’ for a third time, and the abstraction and generalization of ‘failed states,’ ‘genocide,’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ pop up everywhere, it is beyond tragedy.

Furthermore, in the absence of social justice, equality, democratization, and popular The Failure of the Nation-state Model in Post-colonial Sudan participation, the Darfur conflict is neither an ethnic revolt, nor a tribal war: it’s a war of the oppressed against the oppressive elite and their State. The elite, since independence, have fueled the peripheries’ indignation toward the State due to its policies and ideology of marginalization. While the elite had emphasized and intensified the ethnic division by Darfur: Domesticating Coloniality

using the colonial ideology of ‘divide and conquer,’ the social fabric of the Sudanese society has been deteriorating. On the other hand, the adversity continues as the Western media applauds and advocates for manipulation and simplicity (i.e. Sudanese Arabs vs. Sudanese Africans, tribal war, etc). Consequently, any effort to understand the origin and motive of the deeply politicized ‘ethnic’ conflicts that overlooks the colonial legacy of ‘divide and conquer,’ as in Darfur, will fall into the trap of the conventional approach of the petite bourgeoisie ideological framework. This

ideological framework negates the colonial effects before and after independence in reshaping ethnicity, race, and class in Sudan. On the contrary, Darfur’s conflict is a result of the ideology of marginalization, oppression, and exclusion that the Sudanese elite and their State imposed upon the vast majority of the Sudanese people since independence. The Sudanese people of the peripheries are confronting the hegemony of the center/elite, and this confrontation emerged from the very nature of the State and was (continued on page 13)

Kirwan Institute Blog

This blog is devoted to stimulate and sustain dialogue around issues of race, ethnicity, social hierarchy, democratic principles and other intersections of social justice.


To initiate a new discussion…

Where Is This Post-Racialism?


By Rajeev Ravisankar, Research Assistant

A recent study released by Northeastern University shows a disturbing rise in the number of young African Americans involved in fatal violence. From 2002 to 2007, “the number of homicides involving black male juveniles as victims rose by 31% and as perpetrators by 43%.”1 A cursory glance at the responses by news readers and bloggers indicates that some believe this trend is a result of the inability of families and community institutions to address the situation. The study’s authors, James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt, identify contributing factors such as availability of firearms, attraction to gangs, and lack of funding by the Bush administration for crime prevention and policing. Fortunately, they also consider the dire socioeconomic realities faced by communities and call for reinvestment and an “at-risk youth bailout.” Another development receiving media attention is the fate of prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). These institutions played a critical role in providing higher education opportunities for African Americans when they were denied access due to Jim Crow era segregation. For example, the 127-year-old Morris Brown College had its water supply cut off by the city of Atlanta and needed a community fund raiser to pay the bill. Administrators at the college are in negotiations to prevent one of its buildings from being auctioned. Facing financial difficulties, a Republican state senator in Georgia introduced a controversial proposal suggesting that historically black Albany State University and Savannah State University merge with predominately white universities.2 These two seemingly unrelated stories are connected in some way when considered in the context of the school-to-

prison pipeline. Many factors reinforce the pipeline such as poverty, discipline-oriented education, lack of access to mental health care, early entry into the criminal justice system, the oppressive nature of policing, and the conditioning of youths in a patriarchal society that fetishizes violence. Education is essential in disrupting the pipeline, but without independently functioning higher education institutions that serve minorities, the adverse impact is both real and symbolic. In a sociopolitical environment that is widely (and incorrectly) viewed as post-racial, attacking such intractable problems comes with a new set of challenges. While the celebration around Barack Obama’s victory is understandable, the real work has to happen now at the grassroots level. The amount of sacrifice and effort required during the presidential election must be sustained with the same intensity in order to alleviate the issues that continue to persist in communities across the country. 1

Fox, James Alan and Marc Swatt. “The Recent Surge in Homicides Involving Young Black Males and Guns: Time to Reinvest in Prevention and Crime Control” Homicide%20Report%20Dec%2029%202008.pdf and Ludden, Jennifer. “Bucking Trend, Homicides Among Black Youths Rise” templates/story/story.php?storyId=98794212&ft=1&f=2


Green, Sadiq. “Will Black Colleges Survive Era of Obama?” http://www.

Coming spring 2009—racetalk— a new blog managed by Kirwan. Go to

This is a sample of a blog entry on the Kirwan Institute blog. Please visit our web site at to view and comment on current postings.


Questions in this section are chosen by our staff to address a particular topic as it relates to our work at the institute. To submit a question for consideration, please e-mail

Q&A: Subprime Loans, Foreclosure, and the Credit Crisis Christy Rogers, Senior Research Associate


What is a subprime loan?

The four types of loans are conventional or prime (fixedrate) loans, government insured A1: loans, low-and-moderate income targeted prime loans with reduced down payment requirements, and subprime loans. Subprime loans typically have higher interest rates, higher fees and points, prepayment penalties, balloon payments, and broker solicitation. These loans began in the credit card and auto loan industries and then gravitated into home equity loans, which encouraged borrowers to consolidate their consumer debt. Most subprime loans are a home equity refinancing; only recently did subprime loans become available for first-time home purchases. Subprime loans also have much higher delinquency and default rates than conventional loans.


The broker’s incentive is to close the loan while charging the highest combination of fees and mortgage interest rates he/she can get. Brokers have no long-term interest in the performance of the loan because the loan is purchased and re-sold on the secondary market. On top of that, brokers can be compensated for something known as the “yield spread premium,” getting borrowers to pay higher rates than those for which they would qualify.


Q4: A4:

Q2: A2:

Why were people taking subprime loans, if there were other options?

Subprime loans were aggressively marketed, high-cost loans that out-competed communitybased organizations offering fairer and more sustainable products. Not everyone understood what they were getting: “brokers and lenders offered loans that looked much less expensive than they really were, because of low initial monthly payments and hidden costly features.”1 Consumers were left without transparent information and advocates when they needed them the most. Consumers got pitched the worst possible product disguised as a great deal when brokers became disconnected from both borrowers and lenders and rationally answered to their bonus and incentive structures.


Why did brokers push these high-cost subprime loans?

Why weren’t subprime loans better regulated by consumer protection laws?

Unfortunately, these laws have not kept up with the times. Many federal and state consumer protection laws were written before private mortgages were established, and these laws are not well suited to regulate the subprime market. More recent legislation, such as the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 (and subsequent state versions of the law), has been criticized for inadequate reach and enforcement that failed to regulate recent subprime loans.


Are we all offered the same choice of loans?

No. In fact, the recent mortgage delivery system has been characterized as separate but unequal, in a study by William Apgar, senior scholar at the Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University.


He describes how “the new mortgage delivery system has expanded access to prime mortgages on favorable terms, yet all too often lower-income and minority communities are served by a distinctly different set of organizations offering a distinctively different mix of products.” United for a Fair Economy, in Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008, reports that people of color are more than three times as likely as whites to have subprime mortgages and that high-cost loans account for 55% of loans to African Americans and Latinos.2 There are many other studies conducted by organizations like the Federal Reserve, the Center for Responsible Lending, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which found disparities in the rate at which minorities, and people of color, received subprime loans even after lenders accounted for differences in risk.3, 4

Where do we go from here? We can say with some confidence that the modernization and globalization of the financial world is here to stay. But how do we ensure that credit is fair and sustainable for everyone, particularly for marginalized groups who need it most? Here at the Kirwan Institute, we consider key questions that should be of high priority for the next Congress and administration: • What global intermediaries do we need to manage global credit markets? • What is the revamped mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? • How can those most adversely affected by predatory credit—low-income communities of color—have an effective voice in these discussions?

Kirwan Launches E-Newsletter To provide more frequent updates on its activities and to share insight on key issues, the Kirwan Institute recently launched an e-newsletter, which will alternate in production with the print version of Kirwan Update. Together, these two publications will provide bi-monthly news updates on Kirwan studies, events, and activities, while sharing thoughts on timely issues. • How do we improve the chances that homeownership is the road to wealth building, not the road to ruin? • What are the most promising alternative equity-building instruments for lowincome families and communities of color? It is also important to recognize that providing financing for a home does not necessarily advance “fair housing.” If homes are in racially and socio-economically disadvantaged areas, it is safe to say that “fair housing” has not been achieved. Therefore, one important step is to reconceptualize the way we think about equity and housing; it should encompass not only fair access to credit, but fair access to opportunity-rich neighborhoods and stable home-equity building.  

Known as eUpdate, the electronic issues of the newsletter are slated for publication in January/February, May/June, and September/October; the print issues are scheduled for publication in March/April, July/August, and November/December. While the print version of the newsletter will accommodate more in-depth analysis, the electronic newsletter will provide additional information on a more timely basis between those print newsletter issues. If you did not receive the first issue of eUpdate and would like to subscribe, go to and check “newsletters.” To see past issues of either newsletter, go to publicationspresentations/publications/index.php, and select “Newsletter Update” or “Kirwan eUpdate.”  

*For more information on the subprime lending phenomenon and its effect on people and communities of color, please visit our web site to view materials from our October 2008 “National Convening on Subprime Lending, Foreclosure, and Race. subprime-convening/index.php 1 Prepared Testimony of Michael S. Barr, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School, before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representation, hearing on “The Community Reinvestment Act: Thirty Years of Accomplishments, but Challenges Remain.” February 13, 2008. Accessed at svcs_dem/barr021308.pdf. Page 8. 2 Accessed at StateOfDream_01_16_08_Web.pdf. 3 Debbie Gruenstein Bocian, Keith S. Ernst, and Wei Li, “Unfair Lending: The Effect of Race and Ethnicity on the Price of Subprime Mortgages.” Center for Responsible Lending, 2006. Accessed at http://www. jsp?itemID=29371010 4 Ira Goldstein (The Reinvestment Fund) and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, “Subprime Lending, Mortgage Foreclosures and Race: How Far Have We Come and How Far Have We to Go?” Paper commissioned for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University for its National Convening on Subprime Lending, Foreclosure, and Race, October 2–3, 2008. 


Events Kirwans Host Reception for Institute

Conference Examines Race, Inequity, and the Economic Future of Michigan john powell, executive director of the Kirwan Institute, served as keynote speaker for the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion at its day-long conference on January 30 in Detroit. The conference analyzed how institutional policies helped create segregation that has led to inequity among races, and how best to overcome that legacy. powell presented a report examining the historic discrepancies in opportunities offered to whites and people of color in Detroit. He also offered his insights into how the region can effectively move beyond that past.

University of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan, namesake of the Kirwan Institute, along with his wife Patty, hosted an elegant dinner for Kirwan Institute supporters and leaders at their home, Hidden Waters, in Baltimore, Maryland, February 5. Several social justice leaders from the Washington, D.C., and Maryland areas were joined by foundation representatives and Kirwan staff representatives for a free-flowing discussion around the Kirwans’ dining room table, led by john powell, Kirwan Institute executive director. Topics moved from the economic crisis to targeted universalism (see page 1) to the Obama presidency and its meaning for race in America. The Kirwans made it a memorable evening for all. Gracious hosts, from sharing their interesting antiques purchased in Columbus’ Short North area to delighting guests with a cameo appearance by their dog, appropriately named Carmen, the Kirwans remain closely linked to their Columbus and Ohio State legacy.  

Author David Roediger Discusses How Race Survived U.S. History “How can you have Emancipation Proclamations and then have Jim Crow?” asked author David Roediger in an address to an Ohio State audience February 25. Roediger, author of How Race Survived U.S. History, was on campus for a Kirwan Institute lecture at the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, an event co-sponsored by the Office of Minority Affairs and the Department of African American and African Studies. Roediger, Kendrick C. Babock Professor of History at the University of Illinois and a leading historian of race and labor, said that racism is probably not more than 250 years old. He describes how his latest book explores key points in history when society faced “some factor that ought to have done race in,” but instead, a racial divide persisted. Various chapters discuss how race came to be in the British and North American colonies, how race survived capitalism and free labor, and how race survived New Deal and Civil Rights legislation. Roediger gave examples showing that even Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were sometimes sympathetic to slavery. “Slavery expanded because of what Jefferson did with the Louisiana Purchase. It enormously involved the expansion of slavery. At the time of the Civil War, there were four million enslaved people in the United States.”


While Abraham Lincoln was viewed as “the Great Emancipator,” he actually took on a case in his private law practice to represent a slave owner trying to recover his slaves, who had been given safe harbor. Racism turns on a view of bad and disapproving attitudes, a view of race as personal and attitudinal, he said. However, “It’s not that people had bad attitudes. People don’t proceed from bad attitudes; they proceed from bad practice.” While racial divisions in our country were created in order to run plantations, “Race is not just this human bad attitude that we’re all stuck with.” He described the idea of post-racialism as “the idea that eventually we’ll be over race—at least in its hideous forms.” Now, in the face of President Obama’s election, there is discussion of the possibility of a post-racial society. “In the midst of the writing of the book, Obama took it over,” he said. “Obama’s victories began to chart a different kind of claim that race was changing. Young white people came to prefer Obama and his style.” Because leaders are a product of their times, “Leaders will always make history, but only such history as it is possible for them to make,” Roediger said. “The space we can create—or not—for Obama to lead, a lot of the work has to be very patient work.” To see video clips of Roediger’s lecture, go to  

Kirwan Institute Events Future Co-Sponsored Events Possibilities for a Post-Racial Nation/World April 24, 2009 A symposium hosted by the Department of African American and African Studies The Ohio State University 31st Annual African American Heritage Festival Uzuri: Beauty: Mirror Reflection, Internal Perception April 25–May 2, 2009 Multicultural Center

Recent Co-Sponsored Events The Latino Empowerment Outreach Network (LEON) Sixth Annual Gala & Communication Recognition Awards Friday, September 26, 2008 at Confluence Park Dr. Elijah Anderson Lectures (William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Sociology, Yale University) From Affirmative Action to Diversity: The New Black Middle Class Against the Wall: Violence in Urban Communities December 2008 United Black World Month Kick-Off Event Among Panthers: The Black Power Movement Through a Sister’s Eyes February 2009 Moritz College of Law Hosts Kirwan Institute Anniversary Celebration March 19, 2009 Moritz College of Law Saxbe Auditorium Expanding Literacy Studies graduate student conference April 3–5, 2009 The Ohio State University (various locations) Black Graduate and Professional Student Caucus: Fourth Annual Black Women’s Retreat April 3–5, 2009 Deer Creek Resort Mt. Sterling, Ohio

Recent Kirwan Institute Events

Brownbag Lecture Series Pranav Jani Obama and Empire: Will a Black Man Carry the “White Man’s Burden?” February 2009 David Roediger How Race Survived U.S. History February 2009

New Staff Matthew Martin Matthew Martin recently joined the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity as a GIS planning specialist. He works with the “Opportunity Communities Program,” including all GIS, housing, neighborhood revitalization, and regional policy initiatives. Prior to working for the Kirwan Institute, Matthew was a regional planner for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission Matthew Martin in Dayton, Ohio. He has also worked in planning departments at the local government level in Kettering and Piqua, Ohio. Matthew earned a BS degree in urban affairs from Wright State University, with a minor in African and African American studies.   


(continued from page 9)

shaped by it, which is violent and oppressive. Against this context, this book attempts to examine Darfur’s conflict. Moreover, I am interested in posing these questions: how has the ideology of the nation-state model—as a colonial inheritance—contributed to these violent conflicts? What is the role of the State apparatuses and the Sudanese elite in perpetuating the causes of these conflicts? Are there links among the nation-state model, State’s apparatuses, and the violent conflicts in post-colonial Sudan?” The end of the book argues that “the substitute to the nation-state in Sudan has to endorse anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and anti-elitism ideology with self-reliant economic policies in order to capture the dreams of decolonization, and moving forward to build a society of the new Sudan. That alternative model should reject empty nationalistic propaganda and embrace policies of social justice and indigenous mechanisms for solving conflicts, sustaining development, and creating equal citizenship status.”  


Education Update Marguerite Spencer, Senior Researcher

The Kirwan Institute education team is working on several initiatives aimed at fostering school integration, with concurrent efforts on two fronts—the school district level and the public policy arena. These efforts respond to and build upon the 2007 Supreme Court case, Parents Involved, which held that school districts can no longer classify students solely on the basis of race when voluntarily pursuing integration. We recognize that school districts value integrated schools but need support as they work toward fostering racial and ethnic diversity. So at the school district level, our overall goals are to conduct outreach and assessment to school districts, develop and evaluate student assignment plans, monitor legal developments, and frame discourse around the importance of meaningful integration. With funding from the Open Society Institute and Ford Foundation, we are conducting a survey and follow-up of 400 school districts to request information about their voluntary integration efforts that we can use to assist school districts nationwide in fashioning student assignment plans post-Parents Involved.

With support from the same two funders, we are offering assistance to select school districts that have requested our help in refashioning their integration policies. We have provided Jefferson County/Louisville, a party to Parents Involved, with a series of computer-generated opportunity maps that include such measures as median income and home value, educational level of parents, teacher qualifications, and test scores. Our findings illustrate the challenges of adopting a class-based approach to achieving integration. Some of our recommendations were incorporated into a student assignment plan that used a multi-factor geographic approach to achieve racial balance between two high- and lowopportunity areas. We are also working with the Montclair County, New Jersey, school district to devise a way to show how Montclair might appear were it to return to neighborhood schools— an approach we suggest would be extremely harmful for integration efforts. Similar work is being developed for Pitt County, North Carolina. The Ford Foundation is funding our efforts to meet two other goals: to monitor legal

developments and to fashion new, more persuasive frames for discourse around the importance of meaningful integration. At another level, Kirwan seeks to connect these grant-driven goals with a larger effort to affect policy decisions. We have recently completed a document titled The Benefits of Racial and Economic Integration in Our Education System: Why This Matters for Our Democracy. This publication reviews the negative effects of socioeconomic and racial segregation, along with the complex interaction of these two forms of isolation. It is posted on our web site. Kirwan strives to navigate the complex remedies needed to achieve integration, both at the school district level and the levels of public discourse and public policy. We suggest that parents, community organizations, researchers, and others must collectively advocate for integrated education, pushing school districts and policymakers to implement policies that will fully harness the benefits of diversity and achieve high-quality, comprehensive, and effective education.  

GIS Update Report Finds 90% of African Americans and Latinos Are Isolated in the Lowest “Opportunity” Neighborhoods in Massachusetts Although the recent economic downturn has had a dramatic impact on low-income families, people of color, and immigrant populations, a Kirwan Institute report focused on Massachusetts shows these groups face geographically determined barriers to success even in strong economic times. The report was released in January at a Massachusetts State House event attended by representatives of the Massachusetts governor’s office and legislature, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and Harvard School of Public Health. Co-sponsors Massachusetts legal aid programs and the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School joined the Kirwan Institute in presenting these results. 14

The report revealed that critical building blocks of opportunity are out of reach for many Massachusetts residents who are isolated—most often by race—in neighborhoods of low opportunity. “Opportunity” is measured by a number of factors, including access to high-quality education, a healthy and safe environment, sustainable employment, and political empowerment, while isolation from opportunity affects quality of life, financial stability, and social advancement. “Since 2003, the Kirwan Institute has conducted opportunity mapping for more than a dozen regions and states across the country,” said john a. powell, Kirwan Institute executive director. “While we often find that to varying degrees people of color are isolated in low-opportunity neighborhoods, we were surprised to find

that Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of this type of isolation among all of the communities we studied.” The Massachusetts Opportunity Mapping Initiative assessed how lowincome groups and racial, ethnic, and immigrant populations are distributed in the Commonwealth’s “geography of opportunity.” The study used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and extensive data sets, including U.S. Census data from 2000. Some key findings of the report include: Isolation from opportunity along racial lines is very evident in Massachusetts. More than 90% of African American and Latino households in 2000 were isolated in the lowest opportunity neighborhoods,

compared to 56% of Asian households and 30% of white, non-Latino households. Racial isolation into low-opportunity neighborhoods is far more pronounced than class-based segregation into these low-opportunity communities. Ninetyfive percent of low-income Latino households, 93% of low-income African American households, and 71% of lowincome Asian households were found in low-opportunity neighborhoods in Massachusetts in 2000, compared to 42% of low-income white, non-Latino households. Non-native U.S. residents from Africa and Latin America were far more likely to be concentrated in low-opportunity neighborhoods in Massachusetts, compared to immigrants from Europe or Asia. Seventy percent of Africanborn and Latin American-born households were concentrated in the state’s low-opportunity neighborhoods in 2000, compared to 42% of Europeanborn households and 46% of Asian-born households. The report and State House launch were coordinated by a committee of Massachusetts legal aid programs, which includes 21 federally and state funded legal aid programs throughout the Commonwealth. “The findings of this report will be instrumental in targeting our resources more effectively and refining our advocacy on behalf of low-income clients,” said Francisca Fajana, staff attorney for the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. “Because legal aid programs reach every neighborhood in Massachusetts, we are uniquely positioned to partner with other community advocacy organizations, as well as the state and local governments, to create strategies for bringing marginalized individuals and families out of isolation.” David J. Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, said, “We are committed to working with the legal aid programs that sponsored the research as well as other advocacy organizations in communities across the Commonwealth to reduce this isolation and increase access to opportunity for all residents.”   The full report can be found at: publicationspresentations/ publications/index.php

Post-Racialism or Targeted Universalism?

(continued from page 1)

differently situated relative to institutions, opportunities, and resources. Targeted universalism is inclusive of the needs of both dominant and marginal groups, yet it pays particular attention to those who are most marginalized. Targeting within universalism requires a proactive, goal-oriented, and transparent approach to policymaking. Policies and programs should be structured so that they reach marginalized populations and communities, and monitored to ensure that they are performing effectively.

Analyzing the Economic Stimulus Package To some degree, a targeted universal strategy is visible in the economic recovery plan recently crafted by Congress. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 appears to be attentive to some of the unevenness that exists in society, with aims to correct imbalances. For instance, 10% of the rural infrastructure grants (housing, community facilities, business, and utilities) are targeted to persistent poverty counties, meaning counties with 20% or more of their population living in poverty over the past 30 years (Title I, Sec. 105). Similarly, the Home Investments Partnerships Program states that, “As part of the review, the Secretary shall ensure equitable distribution of funds and an appropriate balance in addressing the needs of urban and rural communities with a special priority on areas that have suffered from excessive job loss and foreclosures” (Title XII, “Home Investment Partnerships Program”). While the occasional use of a targeted approach is very encouraging, other portions of the benefit package remain likely to be unevenly distributed, thus maintaining or exacerbating existing inequities. For example, stimulus money is poised to produce considerable job growth largely due to extensive investment in infrastructure building. The plan allocates $27.5 billion for highway investments, $8.4 billion to public transportation, and several billion dollars toward rail transportation. These projects, in addition to the stimulus plan’s overall emphasis on infrastructure building, will generate many jobs within the construction industry. However, African Americans are underrepresented in the construction industry, comprising just 5.7% of the workers—a considerable contrast to their 13% representation in the U.S. population. Similarly, women hold 9.4% of construction

jobs, yet comprise half of the population. Statistics such as these suggest that stimulus job creation may not be equitable.

Advocating for an Equitable Recovery Given the already devastating effects of the economic recession on communities of color, we are concerned that the disproportionate distribution of benefits may intensify the recession’s uneven suffering. As such, the economic recovery plan and related federal policy should be subjected to a careful analysis. Action steps include collecting credible data on the impact of the recession and the impact of the recovery on disaggregated groups in society, such as women, people of color, and residents of the rust belt region, among others. Second, we must develop and monitor efforts to correct inequities. Finally, the concept of targeted universalism should be robustly applied to all federal policy. The “New New Deal” should be racially sensitive and heed the voices and concerns of previously marginalized groups and communities. With the distribution of stimulus money imminent, this is a crucial juncture to commence a substantial discussion around making the economy work for all people and all communities. This inclusive conversation should reflect upon how people are differently situated and seek targeted interventions to uplift marginalized populations and communities.   For a preliminary report on the impact of the economic stimulus plan on communities of color, please visit our web site:

The Kirwan Update is produced by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, 433 Mendenhall Lab, 125 South Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210. For questions or comments about this publication, please contact Kirwan Update editor Angela Stanley at (614) 247-6329 or

Contributing Staff Editors Kathy Baird, Director of Communications Tom Rudd, Senior Researcher Rajeev Ravisankar, Research Assistant 15 UMC 09097

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Kirwan Update March/April 2009  
Kirwan Update March/April 2009  

Update is a newsletter published by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. Update is publish...