In a recent article, researchers from Brandeis University and Ohio State University report that living in a disadvantage neighborhood is the primary contributing factor to racism in education for Blacks. The conducted study compared disadvantaged neighborhoods in Honolulu Hawaii and Albany New York. The researchers have made a serious error in thinking that racism in education has a correlation to living in a disadvantaged neighborhood.

According to their research, roughly 40 percent of Black children live in the lowest-opportunity neighborhoods across the nation’s largest 100 metro areas.

This is in stark contrast to the less than 10 percent of white children who faced the same fate.

The researchers used information provided by and a Child Opportunity Index to identify which areas would qualify as low-opportunity areas.

They also considered socioeconomic indicators such as foreclosure rates and access to efficient educational resources and basic health care needs.

So while the vast majority of white children have access to top-notch educational facilities and early childhood centers, many Black children in disadvantaged neighborhoods didn’t even have access to well-maintained parks, never mind quality health care facilities.

For the roughly 9 percent of white children who were considered to be in disadvantaged neighborhoods, they were robbed of nearly as many opportunities as Black children, the researchers suggest.

The low-opportunity neighborhood with the greatest amount of white children was Honolulu, Hawaii, with 23 percent of white children. This neighborhood was where the disadvantage problem was the most pervasive for white youths.

For Black youths, on the other hand, more than 60 percent of the Black children in Albany, New York, lived in the worst neighborhoods, where they had limited access to the types of resources that could prepare them to continue their education and compete in the job market.

Researchers believe the study proves that a disproportionately greater number of Black youths are being raised in low-income neighborhoods that immediately leave them playing a brutal game of catch-up with white children who never had to face the same obstacles.

The researchers should know that living in a disadvantaged neighborhood is not the primary contributing factor for racism in education.    For example, the following persons came from humble beginnings to become billionaires and millionaires.

Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to an unmarried teenage mother. Her mother, Vernita Lee (born c. 1935), was a housemaid. After Winfrey’s birth, her mother traveled north and Winfrey spent her first six years living in rural poverty with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae (Presley) Lee (April 15, 1900 – February 27, 1963), who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, for which the local children made fun of her.

Johnson was born in 1946 in Hickory, Mississippi, the ninth out of ten children to Edna and Archie Johnson. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father a farmer. His parents moved the family to Freeport, Illinois when he was a child. He attended Freeport High School, where he was an honors student. Johnson graduated from the University of Illinois in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies.[3][4] While at the University of Illinois, Johnson was a member of the Beta chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He received a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in 1972.

Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan to Earvin Sr., a General Motors assembly worker, and Christine, a school custodian. Johnson, who had six siblings, was influenced by his parents’ strong work ethic. Johnson’s mother spent many hours after work each night cleaning their home and preparing the next day’s meals, while his father did janitorial work at a used car lot and collected garbage, all while never missing a day at General Motors. Earvin Jr. would often help his father on the garbage route, and he was teased by neighborhood children who called him “Garbage Man.”

Cosby was born on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is one of four sons born to Anna Pearl (née Hite), a maid, and William Henry Cosby Sr., who served as a cook in the U.S. Navy. During much of Cosby’s early childhood, his father was away in the U.S. armed forces, spending several years fighting in World War II.

Peebles was born in Washington, D.C. to Ruth Yvonne Willoughby and Roy Donahue Peebles Sr. His grandfather was a doorman at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington D.C. Peebles has said that assisting his father as car mechanic while still a child contributed to his strong work ethic.

Shawn Carter was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.[23] He and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter, after their father abandoned the family.

This does not include the many professional athletes and a host of others who started in humble beginnings to become millionaires. Many professional athletes reach that status not only due to their talents, but also due to the many coaches that have taught them the skills necessary to reach a professional arena.

Coaches are teachers. Teachers are the most important person in a child’s life. The only way to offset racism in education is to eliminate classroom racism (Elcloomism) by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

Related Articles

Effects of Systemic Racism Leaving Black Youths Facing Severe Disadvantages in the Classroom and Beyond

Physics Teacher Develops Unit about Racism, White Privilege, Social Justice

California’s school suspensions show racial disparity


Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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13 thoughts on “Does poverty perpetuate racism in education?”

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