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Diversity and inequality
August 4th, 2022
Today has been a scorching day. I worked at home in the morning. Later, I went to the tanguis. With that Nahuatl name, I refer to the street market on Broadway in front of Columbia University. I buy fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, and other products from farms around New York City. I walked from East Harlem on the 110. The street crosses north of Central Park, south of Morningside Park, and ends at Riverside. It is a two-kilometer journey (sorry, I refuse to use this country's archaic measurement system).
The northeast corner of Central Park is nothing like the rest of it. You won't find the tourists from the south of the park nor the young people who walk and exercise in the west. In Central Park North, between Fifth and Seventh avenues, you will find many poor men and women sitting on benches under the shade of the big trees. Many sleep, others smoke marijuana, and a few wander with a far-off look. They avoid the daily suffering of living without money in the most expensive city in the United States by consuming drugs.
The most widespread presumption in this country is that poor people —especially African-Americans— are more likely to use drugs than others. It is false, as Gary Younge noted. A study showed higher consumption of illicit substances among the middle and upper classes. The difference is that the poor consume cheap, low-quality drugs, such as crack, which damage their cognitive abilities more quickly.
After Columbus Avenue, the landscape changes completely. The streets are cleaner, people are slimmer and wear better quality clothes —and probably some use expensive drugs.
New York is the most expensive city in the US and where the greatest fortunes are found, but it is the most unequal.
A 2017 report showed that in El Barrio, the median household income was less than $36,000 a year. Renting an apartment with two bedrooms costs about $2,800 a month. El Barrio ends at 96th st. That's where the Upper East Side begins. The median family income there is more than $155,000 a year.
I love the diversity of this city, but more equality would help eliminate the suffering of millions of people.