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New Report Shows Black Women In South Face Extreme Barriers And Hardships

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New Report Shows Black Women In South Face Extreme Barriers And Hardships

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April V. Taylor

A new report from the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI) entitled “Unequal Lives: The State of Black Women and Families in the Rural South,” reveals that Black women and children in the South fall at the bottom of every social indicator of well-being. These women a children face harsh inequalities that create extreme barriers and hardships that leave many of them in poverty.

While SRBWI’s work focuses on 77 rural counties of the South’s “Black Belt,” the report focused on nine rural counties spread throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi and examine six main areas affecting the lives of women and their families. Those areas included income and employment, poverty, education, health, public infrastructure and housing. The report provides baseline quantitative and qualitative data on the economic, social and health status of Black women and families in the rural South for the first time ever.

The key findings of the report are as follows:

• In the rural South, more than 1 in 4 children and nearly as many women live in poverty; the poverty rate is more than double for blacks and Latinos compared to their white counterparts.

• In rural Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, white women were four times more likely to be employed and black women earned nearly one-third less than white women.

• In Clay County, 36 percent of black women had less than a high school diploma compared to 8 percent of white women.

• Nearly 80 percent of the 4.8 million uninsured U.S. adults who fall into the coverage gap that would be alleviated by Medicaid expansion live in the South.

• In Georgia, the teen pregnancy rate in rural counties was more than double the state rate, and the teen birth rate was at least 20 percent higher.

• Of the 19 million Americans without broadband Internet access, 14.5 million live in rural counties.

• In 2012, of the $4.8 billion philanthropic investments allocated to the South, just 5.4 percent went to programs focused on women and girls and less than 1 percent to programs focused on black women and girls.”

Nicole Mason, who is the report author and executive director of the Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest, points out that the “report should be a call to philanthropists, foundations and our government to infuse critical resources into communities to build the long-term economic security and well-being of low-income Black women, children and families in the rural south.”

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While numbers and statistics are important in addressing any issue, the personal stories of these women and children are compelling. Callie Greer was a participant whose 20-year-old daughter Venus died from breast cancer after not having insurance cost her valuable time when her treatment was severely delayed. Lack of transportation also provides a barrier for many women accessing medical care. Eighty percent of the 4.8 million adults in the U.S. who are uninsured live in Southern rural communities.

Access to information was also revealed as a barrier, with 14.5 million of 19 million Americans without broadband internet access living in rural Southern counties. One member of the SRBWI Human Rights commission stated, “Because of the lack of broadband access, rural communities do not have access to other forms of media and (information). In many ways we are disconnected from what’s going on in the world.”

While some may wonder why these women and families don’t just move from the South, having so few resources makes migration nearly impossible.  Those left in the south after the loss of jobs, industries and vital services have fewer resources, more medical issues, lower levels of educational attainment, caretaking responsibilities and other barriers that prevent them from moving to another town or a metropolitan area.


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  1. Tammy Crumpton

    August 3, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Not surprised by this data oppression, racism, classism, prejudice and discrimination are rooted in the deep south. People of color was never given the rights as white America. Historically the inequalities are embedded. Poor housing, poor quality of life, poor education and limited employment opportunity. One becomes condition to his or her environment. Inequalities should never be, we are all Americans. Even if you are an Black educated women employers seek to pay u less. Maybe we stay because we love our culture not the injustice. Some stay because of fear of the unknown, limited education and no resources. Poverty is a state of mind and a hard reality to embrace.

    This is a shame that hate is alive and poverty is based on skin color and the fact that I am a Black women.

  2. Rickey Hines

    August 3, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    When will we learn. We have to create our own economy.

    • renee

      August 5, 2015 at 11:53 am

      I agree we have to create our own economy. We also need to quit spending our dollars with racist business that cares nothing about us, only our money. I am disappointed with Obama and Holder, those two could have made a tremendous different with the continued discriminatory treatments and attacks specifically against blacks. The courts, EEOC, the judges are all jokes when seeking justice.

      • jason woodlock

        November 4, 2015 at 1:21 am

        Black’s ARE-NOT cut out for Civilized Civilization’s…

  3. Fee

    August 5, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Everyone made a good point in there analysis of this unjust situation.

  4. John Lindsay

    August 8, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Not surprising given the fact the middle class in the South….has the lowest level of middle class living compared to the middle class in other parts of the nation.

    So in turn….its low-income citizens will be lowest, too.
    These stats have existed for decades.

    “While some may wonder why these women and families don’t just move from the South, having so few resources makes migration nearly impossible.”

    I hate to write it but….Latino/a immigrants coming from Central & S. America are much poorer than even these women….yet they make it here.
    However, exiting or relocating to other areas is not the only solution….because more than likely wherever they go….they’ll take their problems with them…again impeding any opportunities open to them.

    We need a long-term planning vision….such as Businesses of Color spreading further out from Atlanta and its suburban areas into White-dominated areas….but not so far out that Black customers cant patronize them daily….in order to offset Whites in those areas refusing to buy from them.

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