Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Economic Realities of Racism

The Economic Realities of Racism

“Compared to the full-employment job market of the latter 1990s, the weaker post-2000 labor market has reversed significant progress in racial income gaps. In 1995, the median income of African-American families was 60.9% of that of white families (in 2004 dollars: $31,966 versus $52,492). By 2000, when the unemployment rate fell to 4.0%, the ratio was 63.5% (still a very large income gap: $36,939 versus $58,167 in 2004 dollars), the highest level on record, going back to 1947. But as the third set of bars on the chart below reveals, the racial gap widened by 2004 (most recent data) as a result of the recession and the jobless recovery that followed. The last bar, based on a statistical model of the historical relationship between the racial income gap and unemployment, shows the ratio that would have prevailed in 2004 had unemployment remained at 4.0% instead of rising. The result is that the African-American/white income ratio would have been 63.9%, even larger than the 2000 record, and significantly higher than the 62.0% that actually occurred in 2004. This finding suggests that unless the very favorable labor market conditions of the latter 1990s return and are maintained, racial income gaps are likely to widen further.” Weaker job market re-opens racial income gap
by Jared Bernstein

In case any black folks are living in total denial and think things are rolling along smoothly and all is copacetic, the harsh reality is the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting shafted and black folks are losing major ground economically and politically. The Voting Rights Act is up for renewal and the fascist Republicans are sitting on their hands on this and the spineless Democrats are not putting up a fight or making it an issue, much to the embarrassment of the pathetic Congressional Black Caucus membership. Economically black people are sliding backwards even in the midst of a stagnant job market and economy. According to a brief report by the Economic Policy Institute an organization whose website banner proclaims “Research and Ideas For Working People” Africans in AmeriKKKa have lost ground wage wise as turn of the century recession and jobless recovery widened the income gap between
Euro-AmeriKKKans and Africans in AmeriKKKa.
Black folks have always been cheated, exploited, devalued and rarely were we paid the same wages as our white counterparts. Even following the Civil Rights era black folks still made up the bulk of the unemployed, underemployed and the underclass in AmeriKKKa. In the “hood” there was a saying “last hired, first fired” which explained the dismal state of affairs within the black community, as we were overly dependent on white largess for our survival. This fact produced large segments of poverty, hopelessness and despair. We vividly saw this last year during the Hurricane Katrina debacle as the poor and least able to save themselves were totally unprepared and were left to fend for themselves the best way they could. So it is not surprise most of the city’s poor were abandoned, forsaken and even demonized by the white media for not being able to evacuate the flooded areas.
“When the Labor Department released the latest unemployment figures, an explosive trend emerged but failed to grab any headlines or be mentioned by any candidate campaigning for votes in the African American community. The Washington Post said the national unemployment rate 'jumped' from 6.1 percent in May to 6.4 percent in June – the highest level in 10 years, with 9.4 million people unable to find work. But here’s the story that the Washington Post and the rest of the media ignored: the black unemployment rate jumped or leaped or bounced – whatever verb fits – from 10.8 percent in May to 11.8 percent in June -- more than 3 times the increase in the national rate. Bottomline: As the jobless crisis has gotten worse for all workers, the heaviest toll has been on black workers, millions who are becoming nomads in a globalized job market.” The Unemployment Story You Haven’t Heard By Dwight Kirk
The trend that isn’t making the news is black unemployment is on the rise and is several times the national average for whites. According to the Economic Policy Institute a continuation of current employment and economic trends does not bode well for Africans in AmeriKKKa. “This finding suggests that unless the very favorable labor market conditions of the latter 1990s return and are maintained, racial income gaps are likely to widen further.” The current trend is an ever widening income gap between whites and Africans in AmeriKKKa. It is highly unlikely under the fascist corporatocracy that sponsors the Bu$h administration public policy will change to reflect a genuine or humane concern for black folks because the ruling elites are pushing policies that are undermining and eroding the white middle class and creating what one writer called the thirdworldization of America. “The 1980s ended with the top 20 per cent of the population having the largest share of total income, while the bottom 60 per cent had the lowest share of total income ever recorded. Indeed, within the top 20 per cent, the gains of the Reagan-Bush period were concentrated in the top 1 per cent, whose income grew by 63 per cent between 1980 and 1989, capturing over 53 per cent of the total income growth among all families. Meanwhile, the bottom 60 per cent of families actually experienced a decline in income. The same radically regressive trends were evident in wealth holdings, which were even more concentrated than income: In l989, the top 1 percent of families earned 14.1% total income, yet owned 38.3% of total net worth and 50.3% of net financial assets. The wealth distribution has also become more unequal over time. The wealth holdings of the richest 0.5% of families grew by one percentage point over the entire 21-year period, 1962-83, but grew by four times as much in just six years between 1983 and 1989. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% of families had lower wealth holdings in 1989 than 1983.35 The trends revealed a middle class that was losing ground. Median family incomes for 1990 and 1991 dropped to their levels of the late 1970s when adjusted for taxes and inflation. But even more alarming was the fact that these trends translated into greater poverty and hunger among the more vulnerable sectors of the population. The percentage of whites living in poverty rose from 9 per cent in 1979 to 10 per cent in 1989. In the case of Hispanics, the increase was from 22 to 26 per cent, while black poverty remained steady at 31 per cent. While the ratio of black to white incomes did not change much, with black median income remaining at 60 per cent that of whites, the ratio of Hispanic to white median income fell from 69 per cent in 1979 to 65 per cent in 1989. Despite the differences in racial impact, it is clear that the most prominent feature in the Reagan rollback was its class character. That their circumstances had not declined further with respect to whites according to some social indicators was, of course, cold comfort for blacks, for the inequalities that remained the same or became only slightly more pronounced are nevertheless stark: average black per capita income is now less than 60 per cent that of whites; 13 per cent of blacks are jobless compared with 6 per cent for whites; and the life expectancy of black males is seven years less than that of white males By the end of the Republican era, the United States, a congressional study asserted, had become 'the most unequal of modern nations.' Some 20 million Americans were said to be experiencing hunger; 25 million of them - some one in every 10 - were receiving federal food stamps. The child poverty rate, which had risen from 18 per cent in 1980 to 22 percent in 1991, was the highest among the industrialized countries. Among children in minority groups, the poverty rate was even higher, at almost 50 per cent. Indeed, structural adjustment Republican-style was beginning to give the US a Third World appearance: rising poverty, widespread homelessness, greater inequality, social polarization. But perhaps it was the condition of infants that most starkly captured the 'Third Worldization' of America. The infant mortality rate for African Americans now stands at 17.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This figure compares unfavorably not only to those for most other industrial countries but even to figures for some of the developing countries of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica (17.2 per 1,000), Trinidad (16.3), and Cuba (16).” The “Third Worldization” of America from the book Dark Victory by Walden Bello
These trends will continue into the foreseeable future unless there is a radical shift in consciousness, priorities, power and cultural patterns (i.e. trade unionists increase their slumping influence, alternative political parties gain access into the process, there is real campaign/election reform or an out and out revolution) none of which look promising at this point. Africans in AmeriKKKa will continue to suffer from the vicious realities of the endemic class and racial caste patterns, the huge white elephant in all our living rooms. All we can do is prepare ourselves to combat and counteract the policies of the ruling elites on a personal and small collective scale. But for that to happen we’d need a new generation of leadership, better information and the will to empower and save ourselves.



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