Immigrants and immigrant communities face many of the same challenges as African-Americans and African-American communities, and there are critical policy solutions that
would make a big difference to both. While most immigrants living in Virginia are people of color, most people of color in Virginia – including most Hispanic and/or Latino Virginians – are not immigrants. Most significant, of course, is Virginia’s African-American community. There are almost 1.5 million Black and/or African-American Virginians who are U.S. born. That’s 18 percent of Virginia’s total population. Most African-American Virginians are descendents of people who were brought to the United States in chains and faced generations of enslavement, legal segregation, and continued discrimination – a far different history than that of most immigrant Virginians. And yet, there are a number of areas where African-American Virginians and immigrant Virginians face similar challenges today. By identifying those challenges and working together for solutions that benefit everyone, Virginia can be made a better place for all.
Founded as a nation of immigrants, the United States has remained so throughout its expansion and development, and today, immigration continues to shape and reshape the country and its states. The U.S.’s history as an immigrant nation has created the rich racial and ethnic diversity that strengthens our society and creates the unique American experience that enables the country to thrive.
But while most public dialogue still revolves around the ideal that every hardworking person has an equal opportunity to succeed here – regardless of their status at birth – the facts tell us that is simply not the case. The troubling reality is that people of color and immigrants are simply not afforded the same opportunity that is made available to many white and native-born Washingtonians.
In Washington state circa 2016, people of color and foreign-born individuals face significant disadvantages at each stage of life; conversely, white and native-born people disproportionately receive, and benefit from, more economic opportunity than others. Not surprisingly, a wide variety of measures of economic security and indicators of upward mobility show that on average, whites consistently experience better outcomes than people of color, and the native-born population consistently experiences better outcomes than the foreign-born population.
While there were a few bright spots, it was a tough year for racial equity and opportunity at the legislature. Lawmakers passed policies that will limit opportunities for many Arkansas families. They also failed to pass policies that would have given more Arkansans a chance to thrive and succeed in the future. These policies affect all low-income families. But they are especially hard on children and families of color because they face higher rates of poverty. For example, 20 percent of white Arkansas children live in poverty. More than double that, 43 percent, of Hispanic children live in poverty. For African-American kids, it’s 50 percent!
Imagine the uproar if football officials suddenly were to declare touchdowns worth six points for one team but only five points for the other. Many workers both in Alabama and nationwide encounter just that sort of shortfall with every paycheck they receive. Despite decades of steady improvement, sizable earnings gaps remain between women and men and between racial minorities and non-minorities, both in Alabama and nationwide.
This fact sheet examines the history of wage discrimination, the scope of today’s disparities and how an Equal Pay Commission could help Alabama close the gap.