Loneliness And Race In The Twilight Years

Courtesy of Pablo Benavente

The quality of life for the elderly varies by race, and a new report from the Council on Contemporary Families sheds light on how loneliness affects seniors.

The report, by the nonprofit, non-partisan group based at University of Miami, found that elderly women are more likely to live alone and face higher poverty rates than men. But poverty is even higher for black and Hispanic women. Elderly black women are more likely to be widows because black men don’t live as long as white men. The average white man lives seven years longer than the average black man.

Older white men are better off financially than any other elderly group, but suicide is most prevalent for the widowed among them, according to the report. The suicide rate for white men over 80 is six times the overall average in the U.S., and three times the rate for black men of the same age.

Blacks and Latinos have a tougher time financially during retirement than whites for a number of reasons. For instance, poverty is more prevalent among elderly people of color, who are less likely to have workplace retirement plans than whites.

The elderly population in D.C. is majority black, but whites 75 and older in the city are more likely to live alone, according to census estimates:

Total households with someone 75+ One-person, 75+ households Percentage of one-person, 75+ households
Black 17,337 7,979 46%
White 7,590 4,549 60%
Hispanic 859 373 43%
 *Source: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau estimates

Some other take-aways from the report: women over 60 who live alone are happier than married women of the same age, and older, solitary men have more trouble maintaining social networks than women living alone.

Homeless Families Protest Cuts

Homeless services in D.C. could get a funding cut next year. The city is poised to loose $7 million in federal funds for homelessness and Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed budget doesn’t replace that money. A few dozen homeless families protested the $7 million cut during a Monday budget hearing, and called for the city to use some of its surplus to cover the loss, WJLA reports.

The city faces a $172 million shortfall next year, but has $240 million in leftover money from last fiscal year. Why not use that extra money to cover the gap? A D.C. law requires surplus money be put aside into the city’s savings, but advocates say that Mayor Gray can change that law.

The Effect Of Youth Unemployment On Crime

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Reducing unemployment among D.C.’s young people will help reduce crime, according to a new report by D.C. think tank Justice Policy Institute.

The group, whose mission is to lower the incarceration rate, found that neighborhoods with high crime rates also have high unemployment rates, particularly among young people. A previous report found a similar connection between boosting education levels and public safety.

D.C. has an unemployment disparity, in which joblessness is very low in wealthy neighborhoods, while low-income neighborhoods have Depression-era unemployment rates. The Justice Policy Institute report also showed how unemployment is chronically high in places with a lot of crime:

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On White Privilege

We wrote on what’s needed to have honest conversations about race, and a few readers tweeted that people should first acknowledge white privilege. That refers to the undue advantages white people receive in society because of their race.

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic offers an interesting take on white privilege, noting that he doesn’t build his identity on the losing end of it. He responds to a white commenter, writing that “I can tell you how racism–indirectly and directly–affected my life. But you should also know that I truly believe that I had the best pair of parents in the world, that I had six brothers and sisters (sometimes more) who took care of me.”

What do you think it means to be privileged?

In short–you need to know that I was privileged. I can run you all kinds of stats on the racial wealth gap and will gladly discuss its origins. But you can’t really buy two parents like I had. Money can buy experience and exposure–but it can’t make you want those things. It can’t make your parents curious about the world. It can’t make them moral, compassionate and caring. It can’t make them love their children. As I have moved on up, in that old Jeffersonian sense, I have seen families who allegedly were more privileged. But ultimately I find merit in who they are as humans. I am unconvinced that money trumps all of their flaws.

Read more at: www.theatlantic.com

Lost In Translation: Report Says D.C. Struggles To Serve Non-English Speakers

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D.C.’s non-English speakers have the right to interpretation or translation services when accessing services through the city, whether it’s requesting a housing inspector or getting food stamps. But a report released Thursday shows that many non-English speakers in the District experience major difficulties getting services in their native languages.

The report [PDF] was released by the DC Language Access Coalition and American University’s Washington College of Law. (Disclosure: WAMU 88.5 is licensed to American University).

DCLAC surveyed 258 people and found that Chinese and Vietnamese speakers had the most difficulty interacting with D.C. entities. Overall, 58 percent of people had some language access problem, such as not being able to get an interpreter or translated documents.

According to D.C.’s Language Access Act of 2004, D.C. agencies have to offer oral interpretation for all languages, and translate important documents into languages spoken by at least three percent of people needing services.

The DCLAC report includes stories from Amharic speakers who had trouble getting food stamps for their children and Spanish speakers who couldn’t communicate with housing inspectors. Nearly 14 percent of D.C. residents are immigrants, most of whom hail from Latin America.

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Why So Many Millennials Say Reverse Discrimination Is A Big Problem

The millennial generation is more racially diverse than the general population. But 46 percent of millennials think that the government pays too much attention to the problems of racial minorities, and 48 percent think that reverse racism against whites is a genuine problem. That’s according to results from a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, which asked 18 to 30 year-olds a series of questions on race, politics and religion. A majority of whites surveyed said that discrimination against whites has become as big of a problem as discrimination against blacks.

Writer Jamelle Bouie lays out his thoughts on why so many young, white people have these attitudes, touching upon everything from affirmative action at colleges to how schools teach history.

Second, we live in a culture where honest conversation about race is rare, especially among white people, where it’s surrounded by fear and anxiety. For many white kids, if not most, racial conversations are limited to a few units in elementary and middle school. Otherwise, they’re left to fend for themselves, which either leads to a sense of privileged obliviousness—i.e., you live and act as if this were a “colorblind” world, despite the fact that color matters for many people—or confusion and resentment.

Read more at: www.thenation.com

Bruins Fans Send Racist Tweets Targeting Washington Capitals Player

The Washington Capitals bested the Boston Bruins during Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup playoffs game. Joel Ward, a black player, scored the winning goal for the Caps.

But things got ugly on Twitter after the game, with some Bruins fans targeting Ward and firing off racist tweets (Black Sports Online has a compilation of those offensive tweets).The reaction has been decried by some of Ward’s teammates and Caps team owner Ted Leonsis.

The Boston Bruins were the first team in the National Hockey League to have a black player.

Racism from fans is nothing new. Former Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson Jr. had to deal with similar incidents during his career. Thompson appeared on Thursday’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show and spoke about how he handled overt racism as a Georgetown coach. He also said that the tweets about Ward do “not reflect the view of everybody. It reflects the view of a few ignorant people who are still among us.” But, he added, that such an incident “rips the scab off. You reflect on what has happened to you on the past and you say, ‘My God, this still exists. This still happens.’”

D.C. To Consider Allowances For Longtime Welfare Recipients

D.C., just like the federal government, has a five-year time limit for how long families can stay on welfare, now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. But the city has faced difficulties in getting longtime recipients off of assistance. And now the city council will consider a bill that would let some people to stay on assistance beyond five years.

The bill doesn’t change the five-year time limit, but it does give longtime TANF recipients an extra year to prepare for the end of benefits. Also, anyone in a post-secondary education or a D.C. Department of Employment Services job training program would still be able to receive checks for two extra years. The bill includes exemptions for people who face hardships that prevent them from getting a job, based somewhat on Maryland’s TANF rules, according to a statement by Councilman Michael Brown (At-large).

The bill passed the human services committee Wednesday and will now go before the full council.

About 8 percent of D.C. residents are on TANF, and more than 230,000 D.C. residents receive either food stamps, Medicaid or welfare checks. Food stamp usage in D.C. went up between 2009 and 2010

Unmarried And Same-Sex Couples More Likely To Be Interracial

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Interracial relationships are more common among unmarried couples than people who are married, according to census data released Wednesday.

The numbers show that D.C. is above national rates when it comes to interracial marriage and dating. Another stand-out point: interracial coupling is more prevalent among same-sex partners than opposite-sex partners in D.C. Check out the numbers below:
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Explaining The Life Expectancy Gap Between Whites And Blacks

Predicting how long you’ll live has less to do with your race and where you live than it does with a set of socioeconomic factors, ranging from martial status to education level.

That’s according to new a study by Standford University researchers. They found the differences in life expectancy rates between black and white Americans all but disappear when taking into account a group of 22 variables, including income, education and work history. Geography also becomes irrelevant.

Still, a documented difference does exist: the average white man lives nearly seven years longer than the average black man. This new study points at the specific reasons explaining that gap.

“Geographic and racial disparities,” said first author Mark Cullen, MD, “are best understood as related to disparities in education, occupations and the like, which are strongly associated with outcomes in every county we studied, whether it was large, small, urban, rural, Southern or not.”

Read more at: www.eurekalert.org