This is a follow-up on the conversation about reparations, started by an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic a few weeks back. Many of us see educational opportunity as one of the ways to undo the ongoing economic injustice created by racist policies against African Americans in this country. But in this piece, sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom argues that even a college diploma isn't enough to equal the playing field.

Annie E. Casey Foundation, Race for Results report


This week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released a national report that caught our eye. 

The report is part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count series. Kids Count tracks a number of indicators – things like birthweight, school test scores, poverty level, and college attendance.

This new report includes 12 indicators in all, and they’ve been combined to come up with an index score for overall child outcomes. Those scores were then broken down by race, and each state was ranked.

For Michigan, there was a surprise. 

flickr user el frijole

  If you want to know how kids gets their ideas about something like race or gender, it’s not just a matter of asking them. They might not know where they got their ideas. And you can’t really control all the variables.

For nearly two decades, psychologist Rebecca Bigler at the University of Texas has been testing race and gender ideas using colored t-shirts in a summer school program. 

JENNIFER GUERRA: I want to introduce you to a young mom, her name is Angela. She’s 21 years old. She lives with her son in a two bedroom, section eight apartment, just outside Detroit in Highland Park.

ANGELA: I have one kid and one on the way. Want me to say his name? His name is Darrion, he’s three years old.

JG: Darrion has a crazy amount of energy. He likes to bounce around his two-bedroom apartment like the springiest frog you’ve ever seen. He’s also a very big fan of toy cars. And soon, his mom tells me, Darrion is going to be a big brother.

user seanmcgrath / Flickr

In part two of our State of Opportunity documentary on infant mortality and disparities, we ask the question: Why are black babies two and a half times more likely to die before they turn one than white babies? 

Two of the leading causes of infant mortality are babies that are born too soon or too small, and a disproportionate amount of those babies are African American. 

Growing up in a toxic soup