About the Disparities

the racial disparities of dane

In comparison to white youths, African American youths of Dane County have much less opportunity in many aspects of their lives. African American youths of Dane County live are born into in a system where they are 16 times more likely to be arrested, 4.5 times more likely not to meet third grade reading standards, and 13 times more likely to grow up below the poverty line, than it is for their white youth counterparts (Race to Equity). Because racial disparities are prevalent in education, incarceration rates, and poverty rates; it might be argued that children of color in Dane County are disadvantaged from the moment they are born.

Race to Equity: A Baseline Report on the State of Racial Disparities in Dane County. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, 2013. Print.

The Lussier Loft can be seen quite clearly as a direct response to Dane County’s alarming racial disparities in juvenile achievement which almost certainly translates into socioeconomic status later in life. According to The Race to Equity, only about 50% of African American high school students graduate on time in comparison to 85% of all white high school students in Madison Public Schools. Furthermore, on average African American youths are more than twice more likely to be arrested than white youths in the USA, however African American youths in Dane County are 16 times more likely to be arrested than white youths are in Dane County. (Race to Equity)

Race to Equity: A Baseline Report on the State of Racial Disparities in Dane County. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, 2013. Print.

What was most fascinating to me (and perhaps also the most distressing) was the realization of the “hidden risks” these children of color face. The statistics would indicate that they are disadvantaged from the moment of birth. Fortunately, The Loft has not only started to identify these “hidden risks” but has introduced programs to close the gaps they have created. The most distressing aspect of these “hidden risks” which affect the African American children of Dane County, accepting these disparities as “normal”. The indifference and or acceptance of these racial disparities means we risk instilling into the next generation that this type of racially segregated success or failure is acceptable for us or our children. This leaves the real possibility of conditioning our children with a mentality that African Americans are somehow inferior to whites. This “rationalization” of the status quo is a risk with consequences which are far-reaching and affect the community as a whole, as well as the individual child. It needs to be addressed that these disparities are not something for which our community should be known nor can we let them continue. These disparities cannot proceed as the status quo, and if they do, not only are we failing as a community, we will also be failing our children. (The Race to Equity)

Dane’s County’s racial disparities are some of the largest African American to white disparities in the entire nation and do not reflect the values which I believe Dane County would want to have or to continue to have.

The intention of the structured nature of The Lussier Loft Program is to keep young African American students involved in school and asset building activities. These disparities alone create an obvious risk for Dane County’s youths and needs to be addressed immediately. If these disparities are not addressed and not considered a priority, then Dane County will not be equipped to close the achievement gaps that have been identified. (Race to Equity) Addressing the problems early may be the key to leveling the playing field for this generation and generations to come.