Students of Color Perspectives: The Statistics

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Hello! My name is Alejandra (Ali) Gatas Johnson and I will be one of your first-year bloggers for Students of Color Perspectives. I blog about what it means to be of mixed heritage (Afro-Venezuelan, American Swedish, and Warao Indian) and what it means to be a student of color in general here at Brown!

This semester I am taking a Sociology class: Globalization and Social Conflict. The course analyzes globalization as a multidimensional and open-ended process and globalization’s impact economically, domestically, and globally.

Recently, we had a lecture about various economic indicators and how they have the ability to illustrate the relative level of development between states. The United States often prides itself for being one of the most developed nations in the world. However, statistically this isn’t completely true, especially among people of color.

Professor Heller revealed a data table depicting the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  in terms of purchasing power parity rates (PPP), Life Expectancy at Birth, and Infant Mortality per 1000 infants. The data was derived from various states (the US, Kerala, India, and Brazil).

I had always known in the general conceptual way that minorities and people of color experience increased levels of poverty and lower living standards. However, I have never seen the real statistics of the horrific situation. In the US, the life expectancy at birth is 78 years. For black men, it is 68 years (A WHOLE 10 YEAR DIFFERENCE!). Infant mortality per 1000 births is 7 and for African Americans it is 13.6. This is ridiculous and unacceptable!!! There is nothing different between colors, other than skin tone. For there to be this drastic of living statistics, there must be a problem in society. People of color should have the same opportunities and experience the same level of comfort and health as any other person.

To put the statistics in further context, Kerala (a state in Southern India) has a life expectancy of 72 years and an infant mortality rate of 11 deaths per 1000. India in general has a life expectancy of 63 years and an infant mortality rate of 71.6 per 1000. Brazil experiences a life expectancy of 72 years and an infant mortality rate of 31 death per 1000.

A black male in the United States (a generally accepted developed nation) experiences a lower life expectancy than a person in Kerala or Brazil (both underdeveloped regions). The US is the hegemonic power globally, and yet American society is unable to level the living standards among people of color? It is absurd and discriminatory. This shouldn’t be brushed under the rug. Something needs to be done. Activism for equal opportunity needs to be a priority. Being at Brown and being surrounded by diversity, it is easy to be blinded to what is happening. I am so thankful for my sociology class for making me a more award citizen and for sparking a desire to make a change.

If you have any questions or comments about this post or about being a student of color in general, please hit me up at alejandra_gatas_johnson@brown.edu.

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