A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Poverty, Politics, and Race: The View from Down Here

Community Action Book Club

The author of this month’s selection served as Executive Director of the Capital Area Community Action Agency
in Tallahassee, Florida from 1998-2012 - author bio


Poverty, Politics, and Race: The View from Down Here
by Dorothy Inman-Johnson, 266 pages, published December 11, 2012

See flyer for more info

**DON'T MISS** Questions for Readers to Explore
Scroll down for review, author interview and more

Discussion Forum

Readers are encouraged to add comments at the bottom of this posting to describe how the book relates to your work, your thoughts on issues brought out by the author, your overall impressions of the book, etc. - see Guidelines for Comments.

Questions to Explore
  • What are your views about the relationship between poverty and race in the United States?  In your state and your community?
  • Why (and how) is expert advocacy by CAA professionals so important to inform elected leaders and the community at-large on the benefits to the economic viability of the community on improving conditions for the poor?
  • Housing Issues
    • Does the county or state have an affordable housing long-range plan or housing trust fund?  In many states, documentary stamp fees for mortgage closings on home purchases go into a state trust fund from which grants are awarded for housing rehab to bring low-income housing into a safe and livable condition.
    • Meet with City or County Government housing Division to learn various funding sources of affordable housing funding, i.e. CDBG, HUD, Trust Fund, Tax Credit, etc.
    • Learn about Community Reinvestment Act districts in communities.
    • Most Boards planning affordable housing, require that at least one representative/ advocate for low-income residents be a member of government appointed advisory boards/ committees making recommendations on housing policy, trust fund expenditures, or projects.  Are CAA representatives making sure they are taking the opportunity to be appointed to these boards/ committees for more powerful advocacy for those they serve?
  • Healthcare Issues
    • Are there Neighborhood Indigent Health Services through community clinics, or the health department accessible to low-income residents?
    • Is the CAA a partner with these facilities for low cost, Medicaid eligible, or no cost healthcare?
    • Are CAAs taking the lead in making sure there is a clear understanding of the Affordable Care Act that will take full effect in 2014?
    • A suggestion might be to partner with other social service and community health organizations on a Community Health Care Forum to educate the public on the benefits and impacts of the Affordable Care Act before 2014.
  • Education Issues
    • What are some ideas on how your CAA can be involved with addressing achievement gaps in your community?
  • Environmental Justice Issues
    • Do CAAs monitor zoning and development decisions of local government for heavy industrial, power plant siting, chemical or medical waste plants, landfills, sewer plants, etc. and advocate against the health and safety risks, and noise pollution if sited in close proximity to neighborhoods, usually low-income neighborhoods?

Please LET US KNOW if you have any suggested titles for future selections.

News Coverage

Ensley native, former Tallahassee mayor, decries "bad rap" for poor, AL.com, January 25, 2013

Former Mayor Dorothy Inman-Johnson writes new book (inc. video), WTXL-ABC27, December 13, 2012

Related News

The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide
Institute on Assets and Social Policy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, February 2013

The dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines in the United States cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and African-Americans, new research shows

Debunking Poverty Myths and Racial Stereotypes: A Better Understanding of Social Benefit Programs
Center for American Progress, February 23, 2012

The Myth of the Culture of Poverty
ASCD, April 2008

Condoleezza Rice: [Katrina] Disaster shows ‘ugly way’ race, poverty collide
CNN Politics, September 13, 2005

Excerpt: “Rice also said she believes the Hurricane Katrina disaster provides an opportunity for Americans to launch a comprehensive attack on poverty.”  Not just the federal government, but state and local officials ... as well as the private sector -- and I mean non-governmental organizations and I mean the private business sector -- to address how we might deal with the problem of persistent poverty," she said.”

Related Resources

Community Action Partnership

Racial Equity and Economic Security Project – A two-year project, funded by the Ford Foundation, explores whether place-based strategies to reduce poverty and enhance economic security are more effective when they take the racial inequalities that are a result of structural racism into account in their program design.  A Resources and Tools website was developed to support the work of CAAs in promoting racial equity.

Duluth, Minnesota

Race Awareness Workshops - Community Action Duluth (MN)

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change

Racial Equity – The Roundtable's work on structural racism began in response to a call from leaders in fields such as community revitalization, social policy, anti-poverty, and philanthropy.  The leaders were concerned about the racial disparities that they were observing in their work and frustrated by their inability to talk about race and racism, much less get a handle on it.  They expressed the need for a coherent way to think, talk and problem-solve around race.  In order to directly address this need, the Roundtable developed a project on racial equity.


PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by Lifting Up What Works.®

Equitable Development Toolkit includes 27 tools to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, prevent displacement, and promote equitable revitalization.

Institute on Assets and Social Policy
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

Racial Inequality & Mobility includes the following components: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Project – Racial Wealth Audit™ – Wealth Patterns Among the Top 5% of African Americans.

More Resources

Poverty & Race Research Council

Race and Poverty – Teaching Tolerance (Grades 6 to 8 and Grades 9 to 12), Southern Poverty Law Center

Poverty, Inequality and Race – National Media Forum on Poverty, Inequality and Race: 40 Years after the Kerner Commission, C-SPAN Video Library, December 12, 2006

The Colors of Poverty: Why Racial & Ethnic Disparities Persist – National Poverty Center, January 2009

Race and Poverty in the United States – Ithaca College (includes links to Teaching Materials)

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