ED Thoughts on Poverty Awareness Month: Inequality

Dear Reader,

As we near the end of Poverty Awareness Month, I will be sharing a series of brief blog posts that I hope will encourage contemplation about the true meaning of inequality, and about what we can each do to push for our respective visions of economic and social justice. 

Thanks for reading, 
Brooke
RAP Executive Director

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I’ve been thinking a lot about inequality, and about economic and social justice, and what they look like in real life. At its core, RAP works to help young people fight inequality and make the world a more just place. We spend a great deal of energy at RAP grappling with how to truly empower some of the city’s most disadvantaged young people to bring their vision of equality and social justice to fruition. I also have a young son, and worry about the world that he’s growing up in, and about how to foster his commitment to social justice – whatever his vision of that may be.

Especially during the winter, we hear a lot of statistics and stories about how the inequality gap has been increasing.  But the power of those numbers, statistics and stories is lost if they don’t move us to really engage with what’s behind them.

So what does it really mean that income and wealth inequality are at their highest points in the last century? It means that the pathways out of poverty that our country spent a century building – our public education system, quality early education programs, a minimum wage – are failing. The laws and policies that are supposed to make this the land of opportunity are failing the more than 47-million people living in poverty and near poverty.

Martin Luther King Junior reminded us that “True compassion… is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Our edifice needs restructuring.  The question is: What should our vision of truly equal opportunity and social justice look like?

The answer lies with our youth. They are the future educators, workers, investors, artists, and parents whose destinies are being shaped by policy decisions made today. They have very real ideas about how to fight inequality and make the world a most just place. Over the course of this year, RAP’s incredible youth leaders will illuminate in ways big and small, their ideas for how to restructure our society’s core structures. They will share blog posts articulating their dreams for their own future, and that of their communities; they will create and launch community-based Impact Initiatives that help strengthen their schools, homes and public institutions; they will meet and work with community leaders to transform our government.

I’d like to end with a quote from President Johnson’s War on Poverty speech:

So I ask you now… to join with me in expressing and fulfilling that faith in working for a nation, a nation that is free from want and a world that is free from hate—a world of peace and justice, and freedom and abundance, for our time and for all time to come.