The Well-Being of Black Children in New Mexico

Introduction

Download the full report (June 2018; 36 pages; pdf)
Download the companion presentation (8 slides; pdf)

Child poverty in New Mexico is among the worst in the nation and disparities exist within all indicators of child well-being for children of color. Our state’s Black children face significant obstacles to success, much like their counterparts across the nation. With disparate access to the social supports and opportunities that all children need in order to thrive, outcomes for children of color in general—and Black children in particular—are too often not what they would be under more equitable circumstances.

Although the reasons behind this are well-known—centuries of discrimination and structural racism—data and statistics supply concrete evidence of the disparities, show trends, and illustrate geographical differences, while providing both a macro- and micro-scale picture. This report identifies some of the areas where Black families are facing the biggest challenges as well as highlights the strengths of Black children in New Mexico. Most indicators include a brief analysis that notes how Black children are doing compared to other racial and ethnic groups

Black children in New Mexico today are faring better than Black children nationally. The disproportionate discipline of students and the lack of a culturally-supportive education system are among the challenges New Mexico’s Black children face. They are encouraged to assimilate into a society that overlooks their contributions to this state and nation’s rich and complicated history, and fails to encourage Black youth to value themselves. We know that a positive self-image lays the foundation for all youth to grow and excel in society. In turn, that society must value the cultural history of Black people as well. Black children need an environment that acknowledges the difficulties they have faced—and will continue to face in the future—while drawing upon the strengths and assets shared by Black families.

The state of Black children in New Mexico is a reflection of the value we, as adults, place on them and our understanding of their unique challenges, needs, and strengths. Just as important, Black children deserve to feel a sense of pride in their culture and a belief in their own potential. They need to feel loved, protected, and uplifted, taught by example and history that they do matter.

About KIDS COUNT

KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, was predicated on the idea that advocacy is more powerful when it is backed by data and evidence. The Foundation launched KIDS COUNT in 1990 and has ranked the 50 states on their overall child well-being every year since. New Mexico, which has never ranked above 40th, has been stuck at 49th or 50th for the past several years. The Foundation tracks 16 indicators of child well-being, organized under four domains: Economic Well-Being, Health, Education, and Family and Community.

Over the last several years the Foundation has focused on the disparities in child well-being that fall along racial and ethnic lines. In 2014 they launched their first Race for Results report, which uses an index measuring children’s progress on key education, health, and economic milestones, and across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels. In both the 2014 and the 2017 Race for Results reports, Black children in New Mexico fared better than Black children across the nation. While the data are critical for understanding children well-being, they do not always point us to the reasons.

About the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs

The New Mexico Office of African American Affairs (NM OAAA) was created in 1999 by the passage of HB 909. The NM OAAA studies, identifies, and provides solutions to issues of concern relevant to the African American community. It is a go-to source in New Mexico for methods of improving the quality of life for African Americans, providing resources for constituents, the Governor, legislators, educators, health care professionals, parents, and many others throughout the state. Among the areas of its work are community development, economic empowerment, the advancement of education and health care, advocacy and policy.

Acknowledgements

New Mexico Voices for Children and the NM OAAA wish to thank Dr. Nancy Lopez, associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico, and Sarah Benavidez, BSW, for their insight and assistance with this report.

Download the full report (June 2018; 36 pages; pdf)
Download the companion presentation (8 slides; pdf)