Robbing Percy to Pay Paul: How Lottery and Education Policy Reproduces Racial Inequality

Malcolm X would often tell his followers, “Racism is like a Cadillac, they bring out a new model every year.” Although newer models look much different than older ones, the fact of the matter is a Cadillac is still a Cadillac. Likewise, racism is still racism, regardless of how it has changed throughout the years. The works of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Joe Feagin, among others, have shown that racism is about how racial categories are central organizing principles of social circumstances and opportunities. Racial groups atop the hierarchy are enumerated numerous advantages, both symbolic and material, while other groups are disadvantaged. In the modern era, the racial rule persists in ways that are institutional, covert, and seemingly nonracial, but no less effective. I argue that the utilization of lotteries to finance public services, like education, exemplifies a new model of this racism.

In a neo-liberal age characterized by disinvestment of the welfare state, lotteries have become a viable alternative for governments to generate hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. Politicians are generally receptive to them, particularly when confronted with budgetary shortfalls, because they raise huge tax revenues for social services like education with little resistance from the public. Lotteries rely upon voluntary participation, but as Charles Clotfelter and Phillip Cook argue, they are nonetheless forms of taxation because these revenues carry the same value regardless of how the state collects and spends them. Often times, however, lottery revenues are not generated equally across social groups. Some groups contribute more to social services than do others though the lottery tax. When these revenues are redistributed in a way that transfers money from one community to another, one community’s fiscal gain comes at another’s expense. So the question stands: Who plays and who pays?
Recently, I completed a study that takes up this very question. Using Chicago as a case study, I simultaneously compared the generation and allocation of lottery revenues. My findings show that this money-exchange process is organized along lines of race (and class). The lottery is a racially regressive source of revenue (it collects much more money from blacks than whites), but the state spends these revenues on education without considering from whom they originated. When this occurs, resources are transferred from communities of color and spread across all communities.

After auditing financial records from the Illinois Department of Revenue, I found that lottery sales vary considerably by a community’s racial and class background. (See Figure 1 for an overview of bivariate statistics showing this pattern.) Consider, for example, one illustrative comparison of a few communities of relatively equal population size. During the early 2000s, communities of color and working class communities such as Avalon Park, Calumet Heights, Roseland, and South Shore generated well over $20 million of lottery sales annually, whereas white communities and middle- to upper-class communities like North Center and Lakeview generated only $4 to $5 million. Such trends remained consistent after performing regression analysis, in which I was able to test for independent and simultaneous effects of race and class while controlling other influential variables.

Once lottery sales are generated, nearly a third of every dollar is earmarked for public education in Illinois (see Figure 2). During the 2000s, the lottery’s contribution to state education amounted to nearly $600 million or more per year or roughly 10 percent of the state’s annual education budget (see Figure 3). It is placed in a general fund along with other sources of revenue and allotted to school districts based on three criteria: property tax levels, average daily attendance, and poverty levels within a district (see Figure 4). Illinois lawmakers intentionally designed the formula this way to ensure poorer districts receive more assistance than wealthier counterparts. Progressive intentions do not translate into progressive outcomes though, especially when lottery revenues are redistributed without considering from whom they originated.

In Chicago, money exchange between the lottery and education represents public policy that circulates money from those who need it most and spreads it around to everyone. This is especially true when lottery tax contributions outweigh other sources of money for education (e.g., property taxes). Under the worst circumstances communities of color are burdened with subsidizing public education, a service everyone is entitled. Public policy that circulates money in this way captures one mechanism for reproducing racially inequitable distributions of capital. Therefore, let us call this new Cadillac for what it is: Racism.

~ Kasey Henricks is a Ph.D. Student of Sociology at Loyola University Chicago and current Student Representative of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Contact can be directed to him at


  1. cordoba blue

    Kasey Hendricks stated: “Progressive intentions do not translate into progressive outcomes though, especially when lottery revenues are redistributed without considering from whom they originated.”
    I’m confused. Are you saying that if more African Americans than white people buy lottery tickets, then more of the lottery money should go to benefit African Americans?
    I agree that poor districts receive less tax benefits than more affluent ones, because the tax base in an affluent area is larger. However, buying lottery tickets is not mandatory. It’s a choice made by the individual lottery ticket buyer. That’s like saying, at a carnival if more people wearing red hats shoot baskets than people wearing blue hats shoot baskets, the money derived from the game should benefit the red-hatters because they played more. This is not entirely illogical by the way.
    But the problem is that playing a game of chance is, well, chancy. It’s not a dependable means of acquiring income. Getting an education would be a more dependable means of aquiring income. Gambling, let’s call it what it is, is not something that will habitually put food on the table. And it’s not something that anyone is forced to do. It’s an option, and it’s not a very smart way to spend your money either. If you went to Las Vegas and put money on a rollette wheel, you would have the same outcome. The probability of striking it rich is not good.
    Maybe I’m missing something in the text. Please explain it to me so I can understand. Obviously you spent a great deal of time doing this research and I just want to understand the gist of the argument. Maybe racism is at play. I just need some clarification. Thanks 🙂

    • Kasey Henricks Author

      @ cordoba blue. I appreciate you taking the time to engage and wrestle with my argument! Critiquing someone’s argument, I think, is one of the highest complements you can pay someone’s work. What I’m saying, however, diverges from your response in a few ways. When you say that playing the lottery is chancy, I have to ask, “For who?” Certainly not the government. Relying upon the lottery, and gambling in general, allows states to generate millions, if not billions to finance public services without imposing mandatory taxes (in an era characterized by much anti-tax hysteria). And because of their regressive nature, lotteries counteract the notion that affluent communities always have larger tax bases.

      My focus is not about motivations or rationality of lottery play, which you talk about in your response, but the money-exchange process that occurs between the lottery and education. Public policy that redistributes money in the way I’ve shown is a form of state-sponsored institutional racism. It is a quintessential anti-Robin Hood tax because it takes money from communities of color and poorer communities and spreads it to everyone through education finance.

      To situate what I’m saying in historical context, it’s important to note that state-run lotteries are a relatively new phenomenon in the U.S. The first modern one emerged in New Hampshire in 1963 to fiscally support, what was at the time, one the nation’s lowest funding states for education (for more historical context, see Nibert 2000). Following this trend, 47 of 50 states have established lotteries typically in the name of helping education and providing it supplemental support. A number of studies, such as Mary Borg and Paul Mason’s (1988) analysis of the Illinois Lottery, have shown that this promise is not always kept. In the case of Illinois, the lottery merely displaced other sources of income that had previously financed education. For me, this trend raises some serious questions about inequality. Namely, who plays and who “pays?”

  2. Stephen Steinberg

    Kasey Henricks deserves much credit for this revelation. In effect, blacks are paying disproportionately more for inferior schools. A double whammy! Apropos Cordoba Blue’s point that nobody is forcing blacks to buy lottery tickets, Henricks chose his words carefully: it is “a racially regressive source of money.” It is bad enough that a wealthy nation would rely on a lottery to fund schools. It is still worse that these games of chance bilk poor and working class people, especially blacks, of scarce dollars.

    We need to publicize Henricks’s finding and mobilize public opposition to the lottery. We are the 99%, after all, and we should put the end to lotteries, which amount to a regressive tax in another guise. We might begin by organizing a boycott of state-run lotteries. Nobody will be worse off for it, except a handful of winners who walk away with 58 percent of the proceeds.

    • Kasey Henricks Author

      @ Dr. Stephen Steinberg. Thank you for the praise! Coming from you, this means a whole lot. Your work, “Race Relations: A Critique” was the first book I read in graduate school (assigned by my mentor Dr. David Embrick), and I’ve been eager to get my hands on your other works ever since.

  3. Blaque Swan

    This reminds me of education funding in the Jim Crow South in that black folks paid taxes just like everyone else and received substandard education for their trouble.

    Good work, Hendricks. Important work. I concur that your finding should be publicized in mainstream news as well as academic journals. As for opposing state lotteries, we’d have to repeat over and over ad nauseum that they represent a “redistribution of wealth.” It doesn’t appear that mainstream/white America will be moved by arguments that appeal to racism (as opposed to reverse-racism) and/or regressive taxation.

  4. cordoba blue

    I agree with Mr. Steinberg that we should put an end to state lotteries. By the way, thank you Mr. Hendricks for replying. I do understand what you’re saying now. And I agree the distribution itself is biased.
    My point is that lotteries, to begin with, usually sap the needy. At most convenience stores in North Carolina, where I live, I always see lower income whites or lower income blacks buying lottery tickets. When I buy my gas, it’s not the guy in the Mercedes who buys those tickets. It’s always the people in the older model cars who appear to need the money for more important things than spending it on lottery tickets.
    But people continue to dream sometimes instead of using their talents and resources to the best advantage. If they put that money in a savings account in the bank each month, it would actually contribute to their resources, not tap them. Gambling is a dreamer’s way of compensating for what they don’t have, but wish for. It’s not practical. It’s not based on reason. I really believe it’s this philosophy that fuels these stupid state lotteries in the first place. It plays into people’s fantasies. And it’s a scam.
    Poor people need information on how to manage their finances, not advertising aimed at sapping them. Again, the ultimate answer is education. With knowledge, many of these ploys directed at the poor would not come to fruition because the public would be better informed and make more intelligent choices. Sounds trite, but I’m a common sense individual. Let’s fix the problem at the source. Get rid of the lotteries first, sell common sense instead.

    • Stephen Steinberg

      In Down These Mean Streets, Piri Thomas recounts how, as a boy, he worked hard at shining shoes, until the day that he realized that it would take him a lifetime to accumulate the savings to pay for whatever it was he craved. It may seem irrational for people with scarce resources to gamble on a lottery ticket, knowing that their chances of winning are slim, but it is the only chance they have. Do you see my point, Cordoba Blue? You are applying a logic and a morality that doesn’t “work” for people who are living on the edge, who are in debt, and don’t earn enough savings to justify your savings ethos. So while you and I agree about abolishing state lotteries, it is not much of a solution to the fundamental problem: structural poverty and low wages, compounded by pervasive racism in job markets. So if you want to “fix the problem at its source,” we have to make a job at a decent wage an entitlement of citizenship. I have a hunch we can agree on that as well.

      • folkaart

        Structural poverty is caused by individuals failing to do well in school, by unmarried women having children with no financial means of support, by GAMBLING away what little money you do have, by smoking, by drinking alcohol, by getting involved in illegal drugs and gangs and so forth. These are the behaviors of the poor that create poverty and these poor behaviors create the very same results whether the person is black or white. To my knowledge there is no way to protect people from their own stupidity. Life is a competition no different from a marathon running race. Those better suited to run finish ahead of those less suited. Poor quality choices = a poor quality life.

        • Joe

          Actually what you are offering is the old white-racist and classist ideology intentionally created to disguise the extensive structural realities of racial, class, and gender oppression that actually cause poverty and its devastating impacts on those who are poor. Structures of oppression create “poverty” (itself a white generated concept in many settings) and it supposed “cultural” dimiensions (actually, consequences), and not the reverse. Poverty never creates structures of oppression. Get rid of oppression and you get rid of “poverty,” and it victim-blaming ideologies to cover up that reality of oppression. You need to step back and consider the “bigger box” of a society grounded in and founded in racial and class oppression. For example, who who made the US Constitution in 1787 (and the legal system we still live under). Elite white men, mainly in their own propertied interest — 40 percent were slaveholders….

          • folkaart

            There are countless thousands of black folks who live a good middle or upper middle class life due to the intelligent choices they have made in their lives. What is racist here is your blaming of white people for the unintelligent behaviors of individual blacks that keep so many of them at the bottom of the economic ladder.

            There is no place on earth better for a black person to live than in a white majority nation. That simple fact speaks for itself.

          • Seattle in Texas

            Folkaart, I’m not sure how you see that a white majority nation, at least speaking with relation to the U.S., is the best place on earth for Black people to live–unless you are a sadist and/or deeply committed to a white supremacist dominated society. That simple fact speaks for itself? Explain your rationale while addressing systemic racism and capitalism, please? Also, address the role slavery, Jim Crow, the contemporary concentration camps and the criminalization of poverty in contemporary times throughout the nation plays in making this the best place in the world for people of color and/or living in poverty to live? And how this oppression has served throughout this nations history to necessarily protect and privilege white society in general.

            In response to your comments below that emphasize the distorted belief in “personal choice” and how those “choices” lead to personal destinies of either comfort or despair, along with the Survival of the Fittest crap, you demonstrate why the masses in the U.S. are in dire need of learning the most basics of metaphysics–a philosophical learning that is critical of both determinism and freewill. It’s pretty funny how you impose an absolute metaphysical standpoint on an issue that philosophers throughout history up into contemporary times, still cannot answer with absolute certainty, or even “prove”. Though, for the record, determinism still reigns with a soft compatiblist position just barely following…though, ultimately still losing.

            But also, your reasoning illustrates the larger stupidity of this nation as you are nothing more than a product of this society just like anybody else, and are clearly not alone in your thinking–the failure to incorporate the most basic of skills to intelligible thought, logic. This all ties into what should be required in the most basic of education in academia, yet is not–though what those living in the most challenging of circumstances to survive(i.e. underprivileged), actually have, believe it or not…just the ability to think at the most basic level where it is generally understood that people are born into pre-existing societies and into different social stratums. Where based on their social positions (privileged or disadvantaged) they are either adored or stigmatized based on attributes far beyond their control, thus being in a world where their own potential(s) is/are nourished or they are confronted blocked and/or very limited opportunities, etc., etc., etc.

            What, history and social structures play no role in people/group destinies? And what’s up with using “white standards” to draw conclusions on people outside of their own privileged milieus–even though they engage in the same stuff as the underprivileged. They gamble, get prostitutes and cheat, use drugs, obviously have serious thieving issues, etc. Look at Clinton and Bush, Wall Street, and Hollywood. Look at white society in general–yet, they are still somehow the most virtuous of all? Right.

            And just because whites grapple with questions of morality and can’t come to grips don’t mean they need to criminalize the same behaviors on non-whites and the poor. White society creates the conditions, and even actively engages to varying degrees, and then has the nerve to demonize and criminalize the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. It’s all cowardly and hypocritical.

  5. folkaart

    This is not racism unless you can demonstrate that blacks are being lied to about the odds of winning or are being forced to participate (for example).

    All this article points out is that blacks disproportionately engage in the unintelligent behavior of gambling.

    A good example of racism is when a college uses race as a determining factor in admissions.

    • Kasey Henricks Author

      Saying that gambling is unintelligent behavior alludes to a number of negative stereotypes that tend to be inconsistently applied to black (and working class) folks. Gambling, however, has many motivations and comes in many forms. Some play in hopes of hitting the jackpot, yet others play for social reasons. Many people, for instance, play in groups because it gives them a reason to build friendships and bond with others. When this happens, lottery tickets are not bought out of economic desperation nor are they bought out of desires for wealth. They are bought because lottery tickets become a symbol for people’s interpersonal ties and not just, well, a lottery ticket.

      And still, there’s plenty of other forms of gambling that people don’t use to blame others for their own position in life. Take car insurance for example. Every month people pay a premium, they are essentially betting on the possibility that they’ll have an accident. This is a bet that insurance companies take to the bank, and a reason why they’re so profitable. Yet no one is saying that car insurance is “unintelligible behavior.” Another much more deadly form of gambling is what takes place on Wall Street every day. Many companies determine their stock values on speculative marketing schemes (for example, derivatives and mark-to-market accounting), in which they predict profit margins before products have even been made or bought. Such practices are what led, in part, to the 2008 crash, but most people don’t say these bankers’ behavior is unintelligible. Ironically, when these black folks and poor folks of Chicago are reaching deep into their pockets to play the lottery they’re paying for public education, yet when bankers gamble in the stock market they’re putting millions of people’s pensions and retirement on the line.

      My point is that standards are inconsistently applied not at random. They are applied purposefully. Your explanation, folkart, rationalizes why black folks get the short end of the stick, and you place the blame squarely on them. This justifies racial inequality in cultural terms, and is certainly a manifestation of colorblind racism.

      • folkaart

        Gambling may have many motivations but if you are at the poverty level, non of them would be considered a wise use of ones resources.

        “Your explanation, folkart, rationalizes why black folks get the short end of the stick, and you place the blame squarely on them.” Kasey Henricks

        I place the blame squarely on anybody who engages in poor behaviors that lead to their own poor situation. This has nothing to do with race other than the fact that it appears that more blacks tend to engage in self destructive behaviors that hold them back.

        The blame game is a cop out. Taking responsibility for ones behavior is the answer.

  6. John D. Foster

    Thanks so much for this blog, Kasey. These lotteries are little more than a back door tax on the less affluent to pay for services that benefit society as a whole. At the same time, it excuses both affluent individuals and corporations from their duties as citizens (corporations are people, right?!). In additional to using this revenue to provide scholarship money for college students (like the one recently implemented here in Arkansas), others use their revenues to clean up the environment. Hey folkaart: you believe in taking personal responsibility? How about having corporations clean up after themselves? Rather than making corporate culprits clean up after their “accidents,” we’ll let the poor do it. What a blessed society we live in.

    • folkaart

      If lotteries are a “back door tax on the less affluent” then so are $200 Nike sneakers that so many less affluent youth CHOOSE to waste their money on. Bling is a racist back door tax! Give me a break.

      • Imagine

        Hi folkaart I don’t think we’ve met. The only way I can see less affluent youth buying Nike’s that are $200… But than again they’re not $200 dollars, they most likely got their shoes from an outlet store where shoes a lot cheaper than say at the mall or footlocker where shoes are overpriced because corporations like Nike maximize their exploitation both here and abroad. I know NBA and NFL players wear Nike to sponsor their brands but they get their Nike products for free… So I guess even they’re not spending $200 on Nike shoes. What kind of shoes do you wear and how much do they cost? I wear Nike’s but mine were only $89.99 and the second pair was half off so both pairs still didn’t come up to $200 even with tax. They last a lot longer than say shoes from Wal-mart where they fall apart within the first 2 months. I think the only time when less affluent youth get shoes is either on their Birthday, Christmas, or when school is about to start. I’m pretty sure their shoes aren’t $200 because parents still have to buy school supplies.. or maybe their grandparents went on a search for some $200 Nike’s so their grandchild can brag about the price of their shoes to the preppy students that probably spent $199.99 on their shoes in all reality. The less affluent are not going to spend money on shoes that they can’t afford, but if they come upon some money like income tax time why would it even matter what they’re spending their money on. But generally speaking I don’t know of anybody who’s “less affluent” that’s going to go out and buy a pair of shoes that would risk things like getting their power cut off or losing their home. For those teenagers who are working part time jobs to help out their parents and choose to buy a $200 pair of Nike’s after saving up what’s wrong with that? If they have $200 and “CHOOSE” to buy better quality shoes how is that a waste their money? It’s better than wasting their money on things like playing golf… how much are a pair of golf shoes anyway… just out of curiosity. I don’t know about your comment on the whole “bling” thing.. don’t a lot of white people waste their money on things like gas and unnecessary big trucks or fast cars and who’s concerned about status?? You’ve never been poor have you?

        • Seattle in Texas

          I have to agree that spending money on a pair of shoes that will last a long time is a far wiser way to use personal resources than things like playing golf. 🙂 And “golf shoes”??? hahaha…at least Nike tennis shoes will serve multiple purposes rather than just one! If the “less affluent” buy the cheapest things that erode in short periods of time then they “look” tattered and then fulfill the other side of the stereotypical spectrum…. It’s all lose lose.

          As much as I hate the Nike corporation, along with many others, I wasn’t aware the “less affluent” should be scorned for wearing name brand items? So then, exactly who is worthy of wearing name brand items? What is it the “less affluent” should really be wearing? I don’t know, like flip flops in the snow? Or poor quality shoes (still made from slave labor) with holes in them and the soles dislocating from the tops of the shoes? I suppose if that were the case the “more affluent” would be much more content since they can “see” that the “less affluent” are spending their money in ways that they approve of and fit their own stereotypes. It’s funny how talking about finances in U.S. society is considered a “private” conversation, except when it comes to the “less affluent”.

          Hmmm. What happens if a “less affluent” person “makes a poor ‘choice'” by “wasting” his or her money on purchasing a lottery ticket, wins, and then buys a pair of Nike’s with the winnings? It don’t matter how the “less affluent” spends their money because all the profit is funneled back up to the capitalist and serves to benefit white society and keep the white supremacist structures held firmly in place….

          • Imagine

            I agree the only good thing about golf shoes is they’re only good for one thing.. and that is stepping in the grass. Can’t Nike’s do the same thing? Wouldn’t golf shoes be more of a waste of money? because they do only serve one purpose like you said Seattle. It’s a proven fact that golf shoes are a waste of money. Golf is a hobby and tennis shoes serve more than one purpose at least you can run in them jump in them walk in them dance in them slide in them play in them and even walk in the grass with them. But Nike shoes are a waste of money for the less affluent. I remember a long time ago a less affluent student from my school actually had a pair a Nike’s they were used to their fullest and looking at the top they still looked fine but the bottom of the soles were worn down to his bare feet. Obviously he had these shoes for a long time and walked everywhere. Maybe he should go and buy some golf shoes I’m sure they would last a lot longer due to the fact he will wear them for only one purpose… to stand in the grass.. but wait he couldn’t get into a golf course without paying first. At least he can stand out in the grass in front of the golf building. I suppose that will make more sense to people like folkaart. Do you think bowling shoes would be worth buying? They’re made so you can slide now that’s cool. I just honestly don’t know what kind of shoes the less affluent are suppose to be wearing… well I don’t know Seattle like you said flip flops in the snow sure sounds like a CPS call to me. I’m sure more affluent parents would love that.

            Even though the more affluent doesn’t mind taking the lottery profits from the less affluent for some reason at the very same time they turn around and blame the less affluent for wasting their money on buying the lottery tickets. I think what their probably really is… when the less affluent actually win they can do things like buy Nike tennis shoes or I suppose other things like fancy golf shoes. I’m not sure what they will do with the golf shoes but at least they can still buy them just to say they own a pair.

            I hope to hear back from you folkaart. I really want to know what kind of shoes you wear and how much they cost. Have you ever worn a pair of golf shoes before? Do you own a pair? I have never worn a pair and probably never will. Due to their lack of purpose and the proven fact that they are nothing but a waste of money.

          • Seattle in Texas

            well, on the bowling shoes, now that’s an interesting question. I personally don’t think they’re particularly bad if they are rental shoes at the bowling alley since it doesn’t matter who you are, you get the ones they give you and with that, they are used quite a bit by everybody. Sure generally limited to recreational use, but at least a type of recreation that most anybody can participate in–including the physically disabled.

            But actually, I had a friend that once wore bowling shoes to work. She was a cosmetologist (and a very good one at that)…uh yeah–here’s the story on that one–so we all went bowling one night (group of less affluent folks lol–for real) and were having a pretty awesome time. For some reason it dawned on her that she absolutely had to have the rental shoes that were issued to her and she had been wearing throughout the night. She asked the guy working at the front desk if she could buy them and he said “no” but directed her to the little store inside the bowling alley that sold bowling stuff, including bowling shoes. She didn’t want brand new fancy bowling shoes–she wanted the exact rentals she was wearing. Anyway, so, she ended up walking out with the rented bowling shoes on her feet while leaving the shoes she went in with in place of the bowling shoes. Was it right or wrong? Well, for the sake of this discussion, that’s irrelevant. But she did cherish those bowling shoes very much and wore them to work on a regular basis–they got their use just as much, if not more, than had they remained at the bowling alley and would have remained rental shoes for the rest of their life span. Now I don’t know if she slid around in them or not while doing hair, etc., but it certainly fit her style back in the day and she was the only person I have ever known that’s worn naturally very used rental bowling shoes. Hmmmm. Bowling shoes…so, yeah, I think they’re alright if they’re the used rental ones and they get their use. (Would she have worn golf shoes??? The answer would be, oh hell no…so, there you are for what it’s worth 🙂 ).

            But I think your larger point on golfing and the use of golfing shoes speaks for itself, in comparison to the less affluent wearing Nike tennis shoes. We live in a society that pushes consumerism and waste pretty hard, and I know white society is most guilty of consuming and wasting the most…and that is amplified by I don’t know how much when such habits, spending, consuming, wasting, etc., are compared to the less affluent as a whole…. And unfortunately I am unable to tie this into the main post at the moment…but did want to respond to the question. Great points you made 😀

  7. Blaque Swan

    The racism being expressed here is astounding. I hardly know how to respond. Studies have shown that black spending habits are no better or worse than anyone else. I hardly think NIKE is depending on the black community for its sneaker bucks. Otherwise, Michael Jordan would be more outspoken on political issues rather than hiding behind, “Republicans buy shoes, too.” And unquestionably, it is white middle and upper class adolescent males who are subsidizing the “bling” of gangsta and mainstream rap.

    What’s more, studies have demonstrated that being poor in the US is exorbitantly expensive. Upward mobility has decreased across all races and all income levels. THE HIDDEN COST OF BEING AFRICAN AMERICAN by Thomas Shapiro may be a good book to read. I’m not sure if this is covered by the book, but consider this – because of redlining and reverse redlining, middle class black children have a substantially higher chance of attending high poverty schools than poor white children. This is because middle class black families live in and/or around poor black neighborhoods. Conversely, poor white families are much, much more likely to live in and/or around middle class white neighborhoods. This means that even by racist and classist standards according to which playing the lotto (even though it’s the lotto that fund public education) is unintelligent, even using these standards, because of racism unrelated to the lottery, “intelligent” middle class blacks are paying for the unintelligence of their poorer cohorts.

    There’re no two ways around it, lottery and education policy reproduces racial inequality. We can take the lottery out of the picture altogether – education policy reproduces racial inequality.

      • Blaque Swan

        That was not a study. That was an op-ed piece. Nothing you’ve shared disputes what I’ve said.

        Because of difference in inherited wealth and wealth accumulation, the figures she sites are reasonably expected. For example, one cause in the difference in saving and investing is that affluent blacks are more likely to spend some of their income on helping family members. Whites can spend less helping family because, due to inherited wealth and wealth accumulation, a smaller proportion of white America needs help. Another cause is that lack of financial information.

        So again, nothing you’ve shared disputes what I’ve said. I remain astounded.

      • Seattle in Texas

        I didn’t see this…but Shapiro’s book as noted above addresses some of the issues noted in that article and addresses the role systemic racism plays in wealth accumulation (and lack of due to racist barriers, etc.) and differential consumer patterns, where racial groups are disproportionately victims of predatory practices, etc. That book would support some of the points made in that article with further clarification on how racist structures are at play. As with this quote from the article for example:

        According to published reports, the Ariel Mutual Funds/Charles Schwab 2003 Black Investor Survey found that when comparing households where blacks and whites had roughly the same household inco mes, whites saved nearly 20% more each month for retirement, and 30% of African-Americans earning $100,000 a year had less than $5,000 in retirement savings. While 79% of whites invest in the stock market, only 61% of African-Americans do.

        (Shapiro lays all this out–I’m not sure if the numbers are exactly the same–but seems so, if not close)

        On other things, the points are good from the viewpoint of the author and the audience of that blog, but in terms of addressing racism, again, it does not address or contrast many of the points with white culture. But that wasn’t the point and intended purpose of the article either. It was more intended for raising awareness, etc. as with this comment:

        Among our favorite purchases are cars and liquor. Blacks make up only 12% of the US population, yet account for 30% of the country’s Scotch consumption. Detroit , which is 80% black, is the world’s No.1 market for Cognac (Pass The Co———).

        This is quite different from whites using racist viewpoints to scorn blacks in particular for their position in U.S. society as a group and criticizing Black culture through the use of libertarian ideals to justify racist positions…libertarianism avoids acknowledgement of all sorts of racism by ignoring historical effects through operating out of the freewill ideology. And while on this point as related to the last direct quote above, I think younger people in particular, in all groups, go through phases of liking “nice wheels”. And while that article addressed scotch consumption among the Black population, what about other liquors and alcoholic beverages? I’m thinking of things along the lines of whiskey and beer??? Who are the largest consumers of that?

        But in terms of articles such as those you brought forth raising awareness coupled with the other sources of activism in the population, they do a damn good job as further research from, has shown that:

        Among adolescent minorities studied nationwide, African Americans show the lowest prevalence of lifetime, annual, monthly, daily, and heavy drinking, as well as the lowest frequency of being drunk. Hispanic adolescents have the highest annual prevalence of heavy drinking, followed by Whites. 9

        And just a link from the same site on the use of statistics and deception as applied to alcohol consumption–but can certainly be applicable to other social issues:

        That’s a good site. But my only point here is the patterns of this new commenter to divert the issues away from the focus on racism and its structures away from the ultimate sources and shift the blame on the victims, that has been shown with another commenter too…who’s been mysteriously quiet since this new person has appeared….

        Lots of great books to read on this stuff that crush the blame game stuff….

        • cordoba blue

          Seattle quips: “that has been shown with another commenter too…who’s been mysteriously quiet since this new person has appeared.”
          Not at all honey! I’m right here! Thought I’d pop my two cents in last night. You are obsessed with me aren’t you? I love how you stick to me like Crazy Glue. Everytime you poke your head out of the Stoner Stuper you habitually walk around in (“I came from a family who was always stoned.”-Remember that?) you notice “Moi”. Should I be flattered?
          Anyway, Little One, no my game is not to blame the victim ( sick of hearing you toot that Same Ole Line) but to educate poor people. I think African Americans have been treated abominably and still are only in more subtle ways. Nobody makes them drink from “colored only” fountains, but whites just “politely” avoid them and do not allow them to fully participate in the benefits of our society Systemically.
          This should not be a part of a democratic society and it’s cruel. But education (one more time sweetheart!) can propel many blacks out of the poverty cycle EVEN IF they encounter racism along the way. This is NOT blaming the victim. African Americans are just as intelligent as any other race. They are not helpless children who must be excused, like little kids, for all and any self-destructive behavior (“They can’t help it, the White Man made them do it!”).
          Rather it’s lack of information and education that steers African Americans into self-destructive behavior. Social programs to Educate, Educate, Educate is the key to diminishing the fact that many blacks aren’t enjoying a piece of the American middle class life. And one more time, just for you Seattle- Stoned-in-Texas, once they reach middle class status will they still be the victims of racism? YES, but they will have such a nice home, decent clothes, nice car, food to feed their families, that at the end of the day, the racism will not crush them like it does poor blacks. Argue if you will with that, when you’re sober.

          • Seattle in Texas

            Oh yeah, everything you say lol. Interpret things how you wish. You might want to work on your reading comprehension skills a bit though?

            Obsessed with you is something I’m not, as I don’t even read about 85% of the stuff you write on here. Just happen to notice things and do have concerns with people targeting commentors (and extended to readers on here) with bad intentions…as when ellen was on here then vanished, then miranda came along, then vanished, then you came along, all with the same voice and racist comments…then it appeared at times different people were commenting under your name, but then this folkaart comes along sharing the same viewpoints you’ve advocated this whole time, but under a different name…anyway. Well, you and the others just named had this thing with harassing Blaque Swan, then folkaart comes on and begins the same dance. Soooo.

            On education, I’m pro-antiracist and anti-oppression education, which is what this society does not have. Insisting groups of color and ethnicity should grin and bear the white racist education system is condoning myriad types of oppression and insisting that an education that fails incredible numbers of of underprivileged and groups of color, annually, must continue and the racist and classist structures within the current education system are sufficient for all people in the U.S. They must conform and internalize to ideologies and institutions that are designed to fail them and teach them to view themselves as “the others” while being content with systematic discrimination and marginalization, etc.

            While your response does not elude religious connotations per se, it reminds me much of missionary work evangelical Christians have done, and still do with oppressed populations, etc. The twenty-first century version of post-colonialism, if you will. The same white racist message that has both failed and destroyed many, most groups of color, over the last several centuries. Kind of like this song:


            I’m pro-education, but pro-psychological healthy education that promotes the safety, health and well being of all people in this nation and an education that teaches the truths of both history and today. I’m also in favor of communities of colors engineering their own educational institutions that are equally financially supported the same as white public educational facilities. To thread all this back into the main point of this topic–the proceeds of lotteries that supposedly go into “education” can assist with this. And considering the under-privilged generate more proceeds than the privileged as a group, they would in essence be paying for their own improvements. You probably don’t follow, but whatever.

            You know what though? Considering you suggest I’m all stoned or whatever, I do have to admit, when I’m around people of your stature and who share your general outlook, basically when in white dominated social circles, I do feel as though, well not like I’m stoned, but rather on a very bad trip so to speak…but the bad thing about it, is I’m totally sober and clean. Think how you will and assume what you want.

            Go ahead and hurl the insults lol–it’s all cookie cutter parroting….

      • cordoba blue

        I looked at this piece and it was written for African Americans by African Americans. It was not meant to demean black people, but rather offer advice. The problem, even though folkaart has no qualms about being unusually straight forward, is that no race or culture is perfect.
        Because racism exists in America does not mean that African Americans could not use some education and financial planning advice. This does not make African Americans are “bad” people. This simply means that there are many black people who do not have the education to make financial decisions that will benefit them IN THE FUTURE.
        The type of spending described in this article is conspicuous spending. That means it appears as if that particular consumer has money because he/she spends it on items that other people can see. However, in point of fact, that person may be deeply in debt. Now does the fact that this person is in debt due, to some extent, to racism? Absolutely! But does this fact mean that African Americans who are not educated could NOT use some well-intentioned advice on money management? NO, it does not mean that.
        I have stated repeatedly that education is the key to a better life for African Americans across the board. Does this mean they won’t encounter racism because they are well-educated? NO! It does mean they will attain middle class status and be able to tell “Whitey” to go to hell at the end of the day though, when they are comfortably living in their beautiful house and driving their beautiful car. I would think that would be well worth it if I were black!
        I tutor two African American people:one is an adult getting her college degree. Another is a 7th grader. And their attitude about education is far from defensive. They don’t take the stance,”You can’t tell me what to do white lady!” They ASK me for advice and study diligently. They’ll succeed. I guarantee it. The 7th grader lives in a beautiful house, by the way, and BOTH his parents have jobs, even in this recession.
        “There’s plenty of room at the top.” My mother used to tell me that.It means there are so few people ( white, black, green or purple) who are really willing to work their patoot off, that if you are one of those, there’s plenty of room for you. Everybody’s looking for the quick fix, the easy way out, the short-cut. There’s ain’t none folks. Not for anybody.
        And if you are willing to work your fanny off studying those textbooks (and libraries are free to everybody by the way) you will only benefit. I don’t see how anybody can argue with this. And if you can find your way to the Lincoln dealership to buy a fancy car,YES you can find your way to the local library. It’s not true that “some people don’t have access to a library”. That’s really stretching credibility. Libraries are free and are located everywhere.
        Magazine subscriptions, for example, are delivered to your door. That’s an excellent source of reading material and very cheap. There must be some balance between what should reasonably be expected from ONESELF and what society can do for you. Society can’t make you want an education or visit the library.
        Where I do most of my tutoring, at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, there’s a black tutor who majored in math in college. He tutors kids in math. He charges $30 an hour and he’s totally booked up. He has people on a waiting list. There’s also a black man who tutors children in how to play chess. He is ALSO booked solid. Both these men have great client support and their businesses have expanded exponentially. Nobody gives a hoot what color they are. They’re very competent and have lots of patience with children, and that’s what parents want. They must not have received the memo that blacks can’t access libraries. They have a superior knowledge of their subject matter combined with an entrepreneurial spirit (there’s that ole devil capitalism again, only I think these guys would resent it if somebody told them they couldn’t practice it!)
        I’m not trying to be combative. I’m just asking for a balanced approach to racism. Legislation to diminish the practice of systemic racism COUPLED with personal responsibility by the oppressed races.

    • Seattle in Texas

      Being poor in the U.S. definitely is incredibly expensive and I fail to understand why the “more affluent” are so obsessed with how the poor and poor Blacks in particular, not only spend just their money, but even their foodstamps too! And buying lottery tickets here and there?? A surprising win every once in a while is nice–especially in times when there is less than nothing. Whether gambling is right or wrong is really a moral question and the consequences of both winning and losing are those that the gamblers have to deal with. I have yet to meet a poor or even working class person who puts any more than a few dollars at a time, maybe on occasion, a whole whopping $20 if they just got paid for example, into lottery tickets. There is a tendency to spend more when the lotto jackpots are crazy high–in other words purchasing the tickets that you otherwise would not if the jackpot was rather low…but hey, there’s that say, “you can’t win if you don’t play”.

      But even further, it’s a form of entertainment, even if for a short period, and one that has the potential to pay out–even if just a little. I’m more disturbed by how the states use the profits as demonstrated in the main post–I think players should have a say on how proceeds are spent–the proceeds of the areas that spend the most should go back into those areas, or, the proceeds should be proportionately allocated back into those specific communities, which can be done accurately and efficiently with the technology of today. Be it for education, recreational facilities for teens, community improvement, environmental improvement, or what have you, let the communities decide how they want those funds invested.

      I personally am not in favor of gambling prohibition as I see it as serving the purpose of only criminalizing acts that don’t really cause “harms” to anybody but possibly those who participate, if it comes a heavy addiction like anything else. It would serve to push gambling further underground and then who knows, eventually the U.S. might get the idea of declaring a new war, the “War on Gambling” and then they would have the “GEA”, etc., especially with the ultra-conservative religious right swinging society way way to the right…. There has to be legitimate outlets for things like gambling–and if done right, the collective proceeds could go to help much. Just my own take.

      But curious is the gambling laws and enforcement in Texas. There is a predominately Black low-income housing division and as you enter there’s a sign that lists a whole host of warnings, including the prosecution of gambling within this area…yet Texas sells lottery and lotto tickets? What happens if you scratch lottery tickets in this area? Or get caught with lotto tickets here? And even though “gambling’s illegal in Texas” what about the regular poker tournaments that are played regularly under the radar and even in plain sight in bars sometimes? Differential policing and enforcement, by color….

  8. cordoba blue

    Imagine informs us that, “I’m not sure what they will do with the golf shoes but at least they can still buy them just to say they own a pair.”
    Making purchases just to say you “own it” is called conspicuous spending and does not help someone break the poverty merry-go-round. Again, this is about racism, of course, but more specifically in this case, uneducated spending practices.
    I know Asians who live in $500,000 houses, an expenditure that will probably appreciate in value. But they don’t have cable TV. They don’t drive expensive cars, just Honda Civics. They don’t have expensive clothes. These are items that depreciate in value. They are not considered assets, but liabilities. The key to financial accumulation is to spend on things that will increase in value and bite the bullet on the small stuff because the “small stuff” can add up to no money at the end of the month for a mortgage payment or any kind of financial security.
    But you can’t make these choices if you can’t read a bank statement, a mortgage document, a car loan statement (please check out your interest rate cause it’s killing you!). This takes education and delaying immediate gratification for long-term financial benefits. The education part is a fraction of the responsibility I believe white people OWE African Americans.
    We are ultimately responsible for assigning them an inferior status, and we must make amends. Give a man an education, and he can make a life for himself. It’s not about simple hand-outs so that ultimately poor blacks can CONTINUE to live hand to mouth. It’s about major long-term changes and a program to help poor blacks help themselves. That’s one course of action whites can persue that I don’t think any white should dispute.

  9. cordoba blue

    Seattle-down-in-Texas quips: “I’m also in favor of communities of colors engineering their own educational institutions that are equally financially supported the same as white public educational facilities.”
    That’s fine with me! The only problem is the other minority groups in America don’t want a separate educational system than the one we have now. African Americans have not banded together, that I know of anyway, to create their very own schools and institutions. Some people would call that segregation Seattle, now that we’re on the subject. It all depends on whose perspective is considered.Would you please provide a link where some African Americans are saying they want to do this? I would appreciate it.
    I mentioned before I believe in pan-Africanism whereas Africans from all over the world see themselves as a separate country within other countries. Again, I totally support the idea of a separate education system for black people. But I don’t think other ethnic groups (Asians, Hispanics, Muslims, people from India) would be willing to pay taxes to support separate African American schools.
    Europeans who settled in America owe African Americans a substantial amount of aid. What form that aid takes is up for discussion. I am suggesting that social programs should be implemented to help black Americans to perform well in the educational programs (with all their imperfections, but it’s better than being illiterate) already set up.
    Your idea is a valid one, but I’ve never read anything about African Americans themselves wanting to set up a separate education system taught exclusively by black teachers with exclusively black students.
    Maybe you forgot that you are white and these are your white ideas about how African Americans feel about themselves. You too can only guess, but you write as if you have some magical inside line on how it feels to truly be black in America. My suggestions are just as valid as yours given that we are BOTH WHITE at the end of the day.
    If you’ve ever read anything by Tim Wise (ie “White Like Me”) he suggests that anti-racists take ownership for their whiteness. This means that one white anti-racist should be careful about harshly judging another white anti-racist because after all we are both white. If anyone has a superior petulant attitude around here, it’s you with your “ba-ha-ha” comments and “Take that white America!” How soon we forget that Seattle-Stoned-in-Texas is White!
    Ergo, when you condemn white America that would include YOUR OWN subconscious white attitudes, frames and perspectives huh? Like Tim Wise said, you should know your own whiteness, shake hands with it, and introduce yourself, because you are that ole white devil you stare at in the mirror each and every day.
    I think it’s rude of YOU to demean my suggestions and continuously call me a white supremacist. I have still, after all, devoted my life to teaching, and my black students like me very much. What have you done recently (and specifically) for black people, except call everybody who doesn’t think like you a white supremacist and get muscle cramps from typing? I am honestly challenging you to give me an answer. What do you do on a daily basis for African Americans? I’ll make it easy for you: one thing, just one.
    If you can get your head out of your hookah and respond it would be appreciated. (This should be interesting.)

    • Seattle in Texas

      Are you done yet? I didn’t read the comment, quickly skimmed it and wow, you know about my family too? lmao Let me go double check with them all on “who” and “what” I am and who and what they are lol. You are so far off base on your assumptions on everything–it’s rather humorous. Again assume what you want and hurl the insults as you please while simultaneously either begging or demanding that I agree with, and legitimate your own world of willed stupidity, no thank you–I’ll pass.

      Rather being concerned with trying to construct an identity for me based on your ridiculous racist and ethnocentric white superiority stereotypes and assumptions, so you can tell me who I am, why don’t you invest your energy on reading the posts on here and some of the suggested readings on the list? If the problem is that you just don’t understand it all, then fine. But is it necessary that you be disruptive on here and continuously move the discussions away from the topics of the main posts?

      I’m not responding to you anymore–so go ahead and reply and/or spew your racist and classist propaganda, etc., as you so desire…. It’s just dumb.

      • cordoba blue

        Ha-ha-ha! You always make my day HMS Texas. The irony is that YOU are always the one making judgments about ME. “White supremacists like you do this, and white supremacists like you do that,and you remind me of religious fanatics, and I hate being around white supremacists like you!”
        Obviously Seattle does not intend to follow the advise of Tim Wise and take ownership for her whiteness and thus true ignorance of what it means to be black in a white dominated world. No other white human has the “scoop” on how black people really feel except her.
        You never did answer my question about the ONE THING you do for African Americans on a daily basis, except tell every other human who isn’t black how hateful they are! You are the antagonist on this site, not me. Because you don’t like my anti-racist ideas (probably because they don’t involve WW III) and aren’t extreme enough for you, you call ME a “racist and classist” person who “spews propaganda”. Who’s being vindictive and irascible?
        You really do live in your own little world. Does anyone else on here think Seattle’s perspective is a little extreme? She wants to “dismantle” the entire white race..whatever that means. Again, we talkin’ WW III here? Please keep me notified about the occasional times when you are actually NOT STONED and traveling about, so I can escape into my anti-radioactive underground shelter for the duration. Then when you’re back on the ole pipe I can come out. Thanks before hand for this small consideration. 🙂

  10. cordoba blue

    Carl Jung wrote this and I try to live by it. Thought I’d share it: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Every day is another day to decide what you want to be. Don’t let the past suck you in forever. You hearin’ this Seattle?


  1. “hey, you never know” « Learning: Theory, Policy, Practice

Leave a Reply