Which means students will struggle to learn. “Children growing up in food insecure households are more likely to be in poor physical and psychological health,” writes the Economic Policy Institute’s Algernon Austin. “They have more behavioral problems and do worse in school. We want black children to do better in school, but academic improvements are not likely to occur when more and more black children are growing up in households facing hunger.”
The Mississippi commissioner of higher education, Hank Bounds, put it more bluntly to the Times: “An affluent 5-year-old has about the same vocabulary as an adult living in poverty.”
Since Reconstruction, we have talked about race and opportunity in America as though it’s a problem for some of us only: Black people are poor; what should good white folks do to help them? That construction has always offered false comfort to a country that leverages deep inequality to fuel massive growth. But as we barrel toward the point where blacks and Latinos can no longer be dismissed as “minority” populations, it’s a fantasy Americans cannot continue to indulge.
Kai Wright is The Root’s senior writer. Follow him on Twitter.