More than two in five Black children living in poverty in Louisville Friday, Nov 12 2021 

More than one in five Kentucky children are growing up in poverty, but in the state’s most urban counties, Black and Latinx children are especially impacted.

According to data released Wednesday by Kentucky Youth Advocates, 205,000 children — more than 20% of the state’s youth population — live in a household that earns less than $26,000 a year for a family of four. And nearly half of Kentucky’s children are living in households with annual income below 200% of the federal poverty line. 

The commonwealth had the fourth-highest child poverty rate in the nation in 2019.

“What would happen if certain basketball teams in the commonwealth were rated in the bottom third of all Division I programs? We would not be very happy,” said Terry Brooks, KYA’s executive director. “And yet, that’s exactly where Kentucky kids are on a national basis.”

A deeper look reveals children of color are more vulnerable, especially in major metro areas. The data show that 42% of Black children in the state’s urban centers of Jefferson and Fayette Counties live in poverty. The same is true for Latinx children in Fayette County. 

That means a Black child in Louisville or Lexington is nearly four times as likely to be living in poverty than white children who live in the same areas. 

The high rate of poverty for Black and Latinx children who live in Jefferson and Fayette Counties experience is nearly the same as the overall child poverty rate in the state’s six poorest counties: Lee, Wolfe, McCreary, Owsley, Clay and Bell. All are in southeastern Kentucky.

“Individuals and children of color are faced with more significant barriers to housing, financial success, education at all levels, healthcare, employment and ultimately a bright future,” said  Shamitha Kuppala, a high school senior and mental health advocate in Louisville. “And these disproportionate obstacles create a cycle.”

While Kentucky’s overall child poverty rates have improved, dropping 5% since 2014, advocates said there continue to be significant racial disparities that need to be addressed statewide.

Brooks said decades of policies and practices have impacted the opportunities for families of color to earn higher wages, build equity and pass that financial success on to their children. Specific barriers include racial gaps in educational access and an overrepresentation of Black workers in low-wage jobs. These obstacles also lead to higher rates of mental health problems and emotional distress.

“All kids face a long climb in their journey to adulthood, but kids of color have to climb a steeper hill due to longstanding inequities and specific barriers based on their skin color or country of origin,” he said. “When we invest in what all children need and tailor additional support for children who face greater barriers, each Kentucky kid will have a brighter future.”

Given the cost of housing, food and transportation, most families need an income of at least twice the official federal poverty level to cover basic needs. In Kentucky, the median household income for Black families with children is $39,600, $45,600 for Latinx families, $41,200 for families of two or more races and $69,300 for white families.

And the pandemic hasn’t helped. 

According to the data, Kentucky’s Black families were more than twice as likely as white families to not be able to pay for housing during the first year of the pandemic. In addition, one in five children of color experienced food insecurity last year.

“We have to be intentional about this,” said state Senator Gerald Neal of Louisville. “This data collection is important. We must acknowledge the racial and class disparities and address them head on. And the legislature has a particular responsibility in that regard, in terms of how we do policy.”

Advocates say state- and federal-level change can address these systemic disparities, starting with policies that work to close income gaps, strengthen assistance programs for low-income families, invest in child care infrastructure and expand the federal Child Tax Credit.

Research conducted by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank, earlier this year found that expanding the Biden administration’s Child Tax Credit would decrease child poverty in a typical year by 40%.

“The significance of this data lies in one key fact, I would say, and that is that kids count,” Kuppala said. “Every single Kentuckian experiences childhood and we can’t let their potentials be diminished by externalities like location, like poor health care, or institutional inequities or race.”

The post More than two in five Black children living in poverty in Louisville appeared first on Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

New Cultural and Equity Center aims to increase inclusivity on campus Monday, Nov 1 2021 

By Tate Luckey —

On October 22nd, the University of Louisville reopened its new Cultural and Equity Center inside the new Belknap Residence Hall. The upgraded facility features the Cultural Center, LGBT Center, Women’s Center, and various study/multipurpose rooms for students of all backgrounds.

This reopening comes after the University was recognized for the 8th year as a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award recipient, joining other universities like Clemson and Florida State. “Now that we have a whole building, and there are banners and flags all over it, we’ll get a lot more attention. I think it does help U of L become a more diverse campus,” junior Agustina Cisterna said.

Ashton Beckham, Porter scholar and finance major, felt similarly but thinks that the university can do a bit more. “I do think U of L is diverse, but I wish [the university] put more effort into enrolling black students in honors-level courses,” he said. “[The new space] is definitely better than the space in Strickler.”

The new center provides a more centralized location for the various diversity departments around campus. “It’s a really modern space that offers many helpful resources. Students of color now have easier access to the Parrish LLC, which is very convenient,” Beckham said.

In an interview with U of L News, President Neeli Bendapudi said that the center represents one of many major efforts the university has made in striving to become anti-racist and more inclusive to the entire Cardinal community.

If you’d like to learn more about the space and programs it offers, you can do so here. 

File Photos // Facebook, The Louisville Cardinal 

The post New Cultural and Equity Center aims to increase inclusivity on campus appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

“Los Cardenales” student athlete group aims to embrace Hispanic/Latinx heritage Tuesday, Oct 12 2021 

By Tate Luckey–

For a lot of students at the University of Louisville, some are just a short drive from campus to get back home. Others live a city or state over. For a select group of student-athletes, though, that expands to a whole other country. 

Recently, U of L established the “Los Cardenales”, a group of Latinx and Hispanic students that mainly hail from countries and territories south of the border, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The group’s sponsor, Monica Negron (who is from Puerto Rico and played lacrosse for the university), emphasized that the group’s goal is to connect with other Hispanic/Latinx student-athletes. They’re the first Hispanic/Latinx athlete group in the ACC.

“It’s all about awareness. The only challenge is that being a student-athlete, their lives are crazy,” she explained. “Whether it’s just them connecting with each other over something they didn’t necessarily know like about the different countries [they’re from], or proposing that the meetings be bilingual or just Spanish or just in English; that’s kinda the beginning of some of the stuff we’re working through,” she said.

The group currently has about 10-20 members, and senior swimmer Santiago Aguilera is in charge of recruitment. “I go out to other teams, introduce myself, and ask if there are any Latino student-athletes with any type of Latino heritage that wants to join, and I recruit them. As Latinos we are taught to love others and be there for others so we are the most loyal friends you can find; we will stand by you and do things others are not willing to do for our friends and family,” he said. 

Strong familial bonds carry a lot of weight in those who have Latinx/Hispanic backgrounds.  “Since we find ourselves around 500 miles (or more) away from our families, we come together on campus to form our own family that we can come to and listen to reggaeton or do some Latinx foods that remind us of home,” junior Argentinian golfer and president Augustina Cisterna said.

“We just share a very strong bond with each other also since our culture is being very affectionate and caring towards each other.” She was part of those who formed the Cardenales last year, after texting Negron asking if a club like this existed on campus.

If students want to be an ally that is an option too- the only full requirement for the Cardenales is that they have to have to be a student-athlete. 

Some upcoming events for the Cardenales include a mentorship program with Newburg Middle school students who share a similar heritage, and joining with the Porter Scholars on their upcoming panel on Colorism (October 15th).  If you’re interested in finding out more, you can do so here. 

Photo courtesy by // Los Cardenales 

The post “Los Cardenales” student athlete group aims to embrace Hispanic/Latinx heritage appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.