Racism and classism make for interesting bedfellows.
The nonprofit Class Action, explains the interconnection of race and class as so:
“In the 1800s and early 1900s, some immigrant groups, who are now considered white, faced significant prejudice and discrimination, yet only the biases against people of color were encoded into laws. To undo today’s extreme class inequality is impossible without dismantling institutionalized racism – and vice versa.”
Classism and racism feed off each other. They fuel each other, and by diminishing the prevalence of one, you begin to diminish the other.
The disparity between white and nonwhite income levels is increasing at the middle-class level. According to a recent Pew Research study, the median net worth for white middle income families in 2016 was four times greater than black middle income families, and 3.4 times greater than Hispanic families. These ratios have increased since 2007, indicating that nonwhite middle-income earners make increasingly less money than white middle-income earners.
The proportions of white-to-Black and white-to-Hispanic lower-income earners have been decreasing. While white lower-income earners are still making more than Black and Hispanic lower-income earners, that gap is reducing.
Huffington Post reported that 96.1 percent of America’s top 1 percent income earners are white, following a study from theGrio supported by MSNBC. About 1.4 percent are Black, and 0.9 percent are Latino.
A 2016 study by Prosperity Now, a 38 year old organization, reports that although the U.S. will be majority nonwhite by 2043, among current trends, it will take 228 years for the average Black family to reach the level of wealth of a white family. An average Latino family will match the wealth of white families in 84 years. How is this possible in a country that will be majority nonwhite by 2043? Money equals political power, and political power equals money.
The 2016 Census reported that 61.3 percent of the U.S. population are white, non-Hispanic or Latino. If the country is expected to see a majority nonwhite population by 2043, can we expect a nonwhite majority in the U.S. Congress by 2043?
Pew Research reported that, “Almost one-in-five voting members of the House and Senate are a racial or ethnic minority, making the 115th U.S. Congress the most diverse in history. And while Congress as a whole remains disproportionately white when compared with the U.S. population, the racial and ethnic profile of newly elected members more closely resembles the increasingly diverse populace”
The U.S. electorate was the most racially diverse ever, in 2016. According to Pew Research, “Nearly one-in-three eligible voters on Election Day (31 percent) will be Hispanic, Black, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority, up from 29 percent in 2012.”
So, if people who are racial or ethnic (currently) minorities are voting more, will the approximate 20 percent minority representation in Congress become more proportionate over time? If minority representation increases in Congress, will some of the legislation preventing socioeconomic equality change?
Pew Research found that, “Although many middle-class areas voted for Barack Obama in 2008, they overwhelmingly favored Donald Trump in 2016.”
Will a more equal class system, which would naturally incorporate a large middle class, influence partisan politics in either direction?
The Washington Post conducted a study and found that “both low-income and affluent African-Americans are significantly more liberal than their white counterparts.” Lower income Latinos are more liberal than whites, but both Latinos and whites are more liberal and likely to be Democrats at lower income levels.
“But that changes with affluence: wealthier Latinos are politically similar to wealthier whites.”
This serves to suggest that different nonwhite racial groups vote differently at different levels of income. This also suggests that lower income citizens are generally more liberal.
Isaac Andrews is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service for the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org