This is not just a polite effort to avoid explicit mentions of race; it is an attempt to link African Americans to these characteristics, constructing a pathological view of black America.
Our insistence on equating "poor" with "black" has undermined the success of anti-poverty programs.
This kind of coding has become so prevalent, even black commentators have fallen victim to it. When the Jerry Sandusky case emerged, charges that the former Penn State coach sexually assaulted the young men who were part of his Second Mile charity immediately raised questions for some about the racial identity of those victims. Descriptions of his victims as "underprivileged" or "disadvantaged youth" -- the same code words so often used for African Americans -- had some black commentators wondering if his victims were black.
White conservative right wingers are not ignorant about the existence of poor, underpriviliged whites either. They never have been, and they never will be. This is a large portion of the right wing base, and its been a gold mine politically for the right - a source of of working class white resentment about racial preferences given to minorities.
Some highlights, since it's a little tl;dr. Note: chart 1 does not load for me.
In the fourteen presidential elections from 1952 to 2004, a majority of white voters in the lower third of the income distribution chose the Democratic candidate over the Republican in only four.
Despite much hand-wringing by progressive commentators, there has been no decline in the propensity of low-income whites to vote Democratic in presidential elections.
The reason is that voters are myopic, and Democratic presidents have been less likely than Republican ones to produce healthy income growth in election years.
Lower-income-third whites were more likely to vote Republican than Democratic in presidential elections even in the 1950s and 1960s (chart 1 above), but during those decades this group was much more likely to identify as Democratic than as Republican.
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