RS1: Mississippi

Digital Divide in Mississippi Splits Along Racial Lines, Report Finds

According to Gerry Smith, “Mississippi ranks among the worst states in the nation in terms of broadband availability” (para. 2), however African Americans have a disadvantage because they “have fewer options for high speed internet and spend a higher proportion of their income on the internet than whites” (para. 1). This article describes the digital divide that exists between the racial lines in Mississippi. As a state, Mississippi already has slower internet than most of the United States, but African Americans have a bigger drawback because of their area of residency. Smith states that “of the 10 counties in the state with the most options for internet service providers only one country has a majority of African Americans” (para. 4).

The racial divide also couples with household income as the areas that have the most internet providers are the areas where the majority of the population are white and are economically stable. Smith describes that the digital divide could be a result of the income inequality with “the median household income for African Americans in Mississippi is $24,000, a third less than whites in the state and just above the federal poverty level for a family of four” (para. 6). Because of these economic constraints, it’s difficult for many African American households to afford internet. As a result, they have more difficulty finding jobs, obtaining health care and education and staying informed with the current issues in the world. In a report done, it was found that “Mississippi’s 2nd congressional district has both the largest population of people of color and the lowest levels of broadband access” (para. 10).

Mississippi has become a special case for Internet policy because “it is the most rural state in the nation and the state with the highest percentage of African Americans — two populations that have been chronically underserved by high-speed internet” (para. 11). However, there have been acts to try to better their ability to obtain internet access, “the federal communications commission recently announced plans to expand high speed internet access…so rural and low-income households can get broadband access” (para. 12).

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