To end hunger in Ohio, we must address racism

You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. Isaiah 62:4

Imagine two people walk into a county social services department for emergency assistance. One gets the services he needs and the other is rejected and treated poorly. The one who receives the help is white, the one who is intentionally railroaded is black. They happen to be from the same household and they barely escape homelessness because the second person had an advocate. This happened last week right here in Ohio with a family we know.

On average, households of color suffer from hunger three times more than white households. These families would appear to be forsaken in a land where there is more than enough to go around. This occurs for many reasons, a lack of investment in neighborhoods of color, racial segregation that continues to exist in our schools, prejudice and bias behavior by some employers, and many other institutionalized behaviors of our society that disproportionally impact persons of color.

Hunger is an issue of race inequality. Black and Latin(x) employees make less money per hour than their white male counterparts, are still charged higher interest rates for home and auto loans, and are still facing discrimination when applying for and securing employment.

Even government benefits adopt attitudes of racism in their implementation. In Ohio, The Center for Community Solutions reports that state exemptions for some counties from work requirements for SNAP benefits primarily are in white, rural counties.

As people of faith, we understand that we are not to forsake those who are having difficulty making ends meet. We are called to take that difficult look at ourselves, understand that racism isn’t just an employer refusing to hire African Americans. It is so much more. Racism is systemic and institutionalized and continues to plague and society. These are difficult issues to solve, but our faith calls us to do it.