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Studies and data on opportunity in America.

dilapidated house
Paul Sableman / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Here at State of Opportunity, we've been talking a lot lately about how your neighborhood can shape the person you become.

Researchers have narrowed down the impact of neighborhoods to factors as specific as the city block where you live.

flickr.com/caelestis

It was November, and the first snowfall had already arrived, reminding everyone of another long, cold winter yet to come. The passengers boarded the train at Union Depot in Detroit, 432 of them in all, bound for Mexico. They had arrived in Michigan in better times, back when the state was so desperate for workers, sugar beet farmers had sent recruiters driving down to Texas to offer jobs to any Mexican immigrants willing to make the trip north. Working the sugar beet farms beat picking cotton, and there was less racial tension up north. Thousands of Mexicans took the offer.

Once they arrived in Michigan, many discovered there were many more opportunities beyond the sugar beet farms. So they headed to Detroit, to be a part of a booming new industry, making automobiles for Henry Ford. Historian Zaragosa Vargas recounts their stories in his book Proletarians of the North : Mexican Industrial Workers in Detroit and the Midwest, 1917 – 1933. Vargas writes that 15,000 Mexican immigrants were living in Detroit and working in its factories by 1929.

Then the stock market crashed.

flickr/teegardin, www.seniorliving.org

I came across a paradox today. It came in the form of poll results, conducted by Gallup. Specifically, it came from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index™ ("The World's Largest and Preeminent Source for Well Being Data"). 

For the poll, Gallup asks thousands of people all across the world how they feel about five categories of "well-being." The categories are purpose, social, financial, community and physical. The poll results are then translated into an overall well-being score, which can be used to compare different communities, states and countries. 

And, yeah, Michigan doesn't rank too well. 

flickr/tao_zhyn

Stop me if you've heard this one: Inequality is on the rise in the U.S. 

Most Americans know this. The rich are getting richer. The poor are just kind of stuck. Figuring out what to do about it is the problem. One idea lots of people seem to like is to just force rich people to pay higher taxes. A Gallup poll released earlier this year found that 52% of Americans now believe the government should redistribute wealth by heavily taxing the rich. 

Even some politicians have come around on the idea. Both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have talked on the campaign trail about their desires to raise taxes on the rich.

But that doesn't mean it'll happen. Historically, democratic societies have rarely imposed massive taxes on the rich. And when they did, it was almost always in the middle of a mass war. 

Treating trauma and PTSD: what are your options?

Jul 10, 2015
Doran / Flickr

Earlier this week, Jennifer Guerra introduced us to a family struggling to cope with the aftermath of war as part of Michigan Radio’s Beyond the Battlefield series.

The Luu family is just one of thousands trying to deal with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since being diagnosed, John Luu has tried all kinds of treatment for his PTSD: talk therapy, group therapy, art therapy, and even a two month treatment program out of state. But each day can still be a challenge.

flickr/56832361@N00

Last week, we brought you a story on the theory of white fragility, which was developed by Robin DiAngelo

DiAngelo developed her theory after years of both leading and observing workshops on racism. Her original paper on it runs 17 pages long. She also wrote a book called What Does it Mean to be White. She has a PhD. She's been doing this work for two decades. 
We had about five minutes to tell you the story on our air.  Since then, we've gotten a lot of comments, with many people looking for more context. Some people went ahead and read DiAngelo's paper on white fragility, which is linked to in our original story. 

But there's also a lot more to my interview with Robin DiAngelo than we were able to share on the radio. 
 

flickr/clappstar

This is the version of our story that aired on Michigan Radio. To hear an extended version of our interview with Robin DiAngelo on the theory of white fragility, click here

Robin DiAngelo was right out of college when she started thinking about it. She'd landed a job leading workshops on racism. And she met a man who became very angry, and pounded on a table. He said white people are the target of discrimination, white people can’t even find jobs anymore.

DiAngelo looked around the office and she saw nothing but white people, all of them with jobs.   

"It was unnerving," she says now. "It was like, 'This is not rooted in any racial reality that is happening, in this room, in this workplace, or in this man’s life.' And yet, these feelings are real. His rage is real. How do we do that?"

flickr.com/feuilllu

We are all products of our experiences, and for today's young people, the Great Recession was one they may never forget. 

In a paper first published in 2013, researchers tried to figure out how the recession changed attitudes among kids who were high school seniors between 2008 and 2010. The paper (which you can read in full here) found that kids graduating high school during the recession were more concerned about inequality and environmental issues than kids who graduated before. They were also less concerned with gaining material wealth. 

New U.S. Census Bureau data show a decline in childhood poverty rates for the first time in 10 years. That's big news. But as Emily Badger points out in her Washington Post article, that's about the only good news coming out of the most recent poverty data gleaned from the Bureau's 2013 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

potomon / flickr

Michigan State University has a new study out about "mindset messages," or how what we believe can change how well we can do.

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