How many times have you walked into the corner convenience store in your neighborhood and noticed the lottery line reaching around the isle? The players look to be at different income levels, educational levels, and ages ranging from 18 - 65. Better yet, how much time and money have you spent in the lottery line, hoping to hit your number. How many times have you played the same number with no luck or played a number every day only for the number to hit the day you did not play it? This whole scenario is all too familiar to many people regardless of race, but particularly to Blacks.
Four years ago the National Gambling Impact Study Commission reported that state lotteries are largely supported by a small group of heavy players, with 5 percent of players accounting for 51 percent of lottery sales. The study also revealed that Blacks spend five times as much as whites on lottery tickets and that lottery players "are disproportionately poor, black and lacking a high-school education." If referring to the economic and overall status of the Black community, this statement must be true since Black wealth equals 1% of the entire U.S. national income. In other words, if Blacks are the backbone of the lottery business, no wonder many of us remain in poverty.
Educational differences are not far behind either. The study reported that high school dropouts spend four times as much as college graduates. Both cases are extreme because there are not more Black high school dropouts or college graduates than there are people in between who make up the majority. It is in this range, the majority, who compose the big lottery spenders. The Black lower to middle class spends more money on lottery tickets than anyone else in the country. But this spending does not go unjustified.
Many people believe religiously that the lottery money they spend is making a difference in their child's education. Most states use lottery proceeds for funding the states educational institutions, particularly the public school systems. People do not mind spending (or wasting) money for a cause that affords the children. So why are our public schools still failing our Black children? Is the spending justified if test scores are low, school technology is not up to date, and children are not reading by the fourth grade?
All cases are different for each state and school district, but overall one must ask him or herself, is my lottery money really helping the children or me for that matter. Is this splurge of money into a federal bureaucracy effective or just one big gamble? The lottery is just another area of the Black community that should be evaluated for its actual effectiveness on Black economic and social well-being.
© Mar. 2017
A Letter to Black America
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