The Question Is Not: "Is Race or Class More Important?"


The Question Is Not: ‘Is Race or Class More Important?’ (click to see original article)

Author: Dr. Paula Braveman

Source: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1979-), Vol. 59, No. 12 (Dec., 2005),p. 1029

In this short article, Dr. Braveman argues that “the acknowledgement of economic disadvantage is welcome” but that replacing initiatives on racial/ethnic disparities with targeting the economically disadvantaged, regardless of race, would “be an unfortunate move.” According to Dr. Braveman, “it would take race and racism off the agenda, subsuming it under class. It also would play off people of colour against low income white people because resources would not be increased along the widened scope. One recurring theme among proponents of this direction is that class is ‘more important’ than race.” Dr. Braveman further discusses the issue by showing how even if all interpersonal racism were eliminated, “the institutional structures that shape people’s opportunities in life from early childhood – for example, by determining their parents’ and their own educational and employment opportunities – are so powerful that we would continue to see huge racial/ethnic differences in many health outcomes.” She believes the real questions is “how do we address both, including their complex interactions, with research and effective action.”