Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders caused a social media firestorm in March of 2016 when he claimed that “When you’re white you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto, you don’t know what it’s like to be poor1 .” Here’s the video:
Poverty is found in many parts of the United States. Jay Harold has been highlighting some non-urban areas with a low Black American population that may meet the definition of a “Ghetto.” This post is the third county Jay Harold has spotlighted. (Owsley County, Ky and Hancock County, TN were the others).
What’s the definition of a Ghetto?
Merriam-Webster’s definitions of the word ghetto2 are listed below:
A quarter of a city in which Jews were formerly required to live.
a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure.
3a : an isolated group <a geriatric ghetto>b : a situation that resembles a ghetto especially in conferring inferior status or limiting opportunity.
Does Brooks County meet the definition of a Ghetto?
Brooks County3 is located in the Rio Grande Plain region south of Corpus Christi, Texas. Even though Brooks County is 70 miles north of the border, it’s a crossing point for undocumented migrants coming from Central America, the source of a surge that has plunged the U.S. immigration system into crisis4 .
The 2015 U.S. Census Quickfacts5 states that African-Americans make up 1.2% of the total population of 7720 people in Brooks County. The table below from the U.S. Census shows relevant demographic information about the county.
Call Brooks County what it is!
Black Americans are often referred to as living in the ghetto. If you accept Merriam-Webster’s second definition of ghetto, Black Americans do indeed live in ghettoes. The same definition of ghetto applies to Brooks County, Texas. The third definition of ghetto also applies to Brooks County.
African Americans were particularly vulnerable because their median weekly fourth quarter 2016 wages were below the U.S. national average. Black Americans earned $675 weekly6 (Table 2). Whites earned $881, and Asians earned $1022 weekly. Hispanics Americans earned $648 weekly. The overall median U.S. weekly wage is $849 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics7 .
The data suggests that while Black Americans are struggling economically, there are places in the United States like Brooks County that are also in terrible shape. It’s like that famous quote,”The pot calling the kettle black.” Jay Harold prays that we move forward and help Brooks County and other places in similar economic condition thrive again.
Please take this advice of Muhammad Ali and give back to others. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~ Muhammad Ali