State of the Dream 2010: Drained

State of the Dream 2010: Drained

Jobless and Foreclosed in Communities of Color


State of the Dream 2010 report coverState of the Dream 2010: Drained explores the current racial economic divide in the U.S. in terms of unemployment, income, poverty, net worth, and rate of foreclosures.

In Drained, we discuss the shortcomings of "colorblind," broad-spectrum policies, and the urgent need for targeted policies geared toward lifting up the communities in most need. We highlight this policy approach as key to narrowing the gaping racial income and wealth divides, and to rebuilding the economy as a whole.



The authors of this report are:

  • Ajamu Dillahunt, UFE Board Member
  • Brian Miller, Executive Director, UFE
  • Mike Prokosch, UFE Board Member
  • Jeannette Huezo, Education Coordinator, UFE
  • Dedrick Muhammad, Senior Organizer & Research Associate, Institute for Policy Studies






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Mike Prokosch on "Letters to Washington" (podcast)

Letters to Washington - February 1, 2010 at 10:00am

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Forward to 22:49 for the segment featuring Mike Prokosch.

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The Obama Presidency: Year One

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"President Barack Hussein Obama officially marked the end of the first year of his administration with his State of the Union Address Wednesday night. The First Black President kept his record of doing zero for Black America intact, as he announced a spending freeze which will result in the downsizing of already underfunded federal social services. According to the United for a Fair Economy State of the Dream 2010: Drained report, the national unemployment rate for blacks stood at 16.2 % as of December 2009. Latinos came in at 12.9 % while the rate for whites actually dropped for the second month in a row, to 9 %. The report finds that blacks earn 62 cents for every dollar made by whites, Latinos make 68 cents. Blacks possess 10 cents of net wealth for every dollar of whites, Latinos stand at 12 cents. Last month, ten members of the Black Congressional Caucus demanded that 10% of federal job creation funds be allocated to regions with the highest unemployment rates. This plan was shot down by the president. As a result of the CBC boycotting a key House vote on financial industry regulation, $6 billion dollars was added for targeted job creation, assistance to people facing housing foreclosure and other initiatives.

The conclusion of the State of the Dream report is that targeted job creation programs for communities with the highest unemployment rates is the only way to address the aforementioned racial economic disparities. The findings of the report have been met with deafening silence by blacks who still want to believe in their president and white progressives who participated in an unprecedented grassroots campaign to get Obama elected. Health care reform is dead – the president did not refer to this issue until he was 30 minutes into his speech. The vaunted public option was not mentioned, so the crappy bill that passed the Senate is apparently still on the menu. There were never any discussions during the Health Care No Holds Barred Steel Cage Match between the Democrats and Republicans about the impact of racial health disparities. According to a report by Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland researchers, these disparities cost the United States $229 billion annually, enough money to completely revamp the national health care system. The report finds that people of color are generally in worse health than whites and far more likely to die from a wide range of diseases. Militarism will still be well served by the Obama administration as the spending freeze exempts the Pentagon. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq rage on, with Yemen and Nigeria possibly being added to the mix very soon."

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The Earnings Report for Main Street

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Prakash Laufer"To add insult to injury to working America, in came the earnings reports from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. At these mega banks, balance sheets are healthy, profits are up and bonuses for top executives are bigger than ever. JPMorgan Chase just reported $11.7 billion in profits and $26.9 billion in compensation and bonuses. Goldman Sachs made a record-high profit of $13.4 billion in 2009 and is slated to hand out $16.2 billion in compensation and bonuses.

These are some of the same institutions whose predatory and unethically risky actions brought our economy to its knees. But, thanks to billions of dollars in government resuscitation, they seem to be recovering nicely from their near-death experiences.

The "earnings report" for the rest of the U.S., however, includes — drum roll, please — higher unemployment and continued foreclosures, with no relief in sight. It sounds like a raw deal because it is. Big banks and Wall Street financiers ignited the foreclosure crisis, setting our economy ablaze, resulting in the loss of millions of homes and jobs.

While Americans everywhere are suffering, not all are suffering equally. Communities of color are, once again, experiencing the brunt of this recession. [...]"

Read the full op-ed by Prakash Laufer on


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Has Obama's election changed race relations?

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"'The election of Obama reflected a great deal of change in attitudes, but change hasn’t lasted,' says William P. Jones, an associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 'And I don’t think we should expect to see much change, both because of who Obama is as a politician and because of who we are as a nation.'

Race is inextricably tied to economics, because racial inequality in the United States was forged in the economic institution of slavery, says Jones. Obama’s success in winning the election, and in effectively governing, rests on his ability to convince white voters that he puts their interests first and black voters that they will benefit even more than whites from his policies, Jones says. But the economic crisis of Obama’s first year as president has done nothing if not challenge the effectiveness of his programs — especially for blacks.

'For the first time in 30 years, the gap between black and white income is increasing,' says Jones, who was part of a discussion panel called 'Taking Stock of Race and Racism: A Year after Obama’s Inauguration' presented last week by the UW-Madison Center for Humanities.

Jones’ observation is supported by a new report on economic inequality, 'State of the Dream 2010: Drained,' that concludes people of color are suffering more in the economic downturn than whites. In 2009, the unemployment rate for whites rose 2.4 percentage points, compared to 4.3 points for African-Americans and 3.7 for Latinos, according to the report released on Jan. 18 by United for a Fair Economy, a Boston-based nonprofit research and advocacy group. The disparity was particularly pronounced in five states, including Wisconsin, where the unemployment rate for blacks was at least three times that of whites.

Read the full article by Pat Schneider in The Cap Times of Madison, WI.

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Ajamu Dillahunt on Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn

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"As of December 2009, the African American unemployment rate went above 16%, the Latino unemployment rate is very close to 13%, and that's compared to 9% for white Americans. [...] [W]hat the African American community is facing is more in the order of a depression than a recession. [...]

[I]n places like Michigan and Ohio...the unemployment rate amongst African Americans is expected to exceed 20% this year. [...]

We need a targeted approach to get us out of this bind that we're in now, and we have recommendations for that."

Click here to listen to the show. Scroll forward halfway for the segment with Ajamu Dillahunt.

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TFOC News Update: Tax Victories in Oregon

Oregon, like so many states in the recession, was facing difficult and painful cuts in order to balance their budget – until the recent, and historic, vote that took place on Tuesday.

Oregonians voted in favor of Measures 66 and 67, which passed at 54% and 53% respectively. These measures call for modest income tax increases on the wealthiest 3% of Oregonians, and establish a $150 minimum tax for most businesses, raise the tax rate on some corporate profits by 1.3 percentage points, and increase certain business filing fees.

According to an article by David Steves, Oregon had not voted to approve general tax increases since 1930. So why are they voting in favor now? Some speculate the change of heart is due to the fact that these tax measures only affect those most able to pay – both at the individual level and in terms of large corporations. Most Oregon residents and businesses will not be affected.

Though anti-tax opponents are still spouting messages of doom for Oregon, the taxes are estimated to bring in over $700 million that will protect vital public services. This revenue saves schools from a 5% across-the-board decrease in state funding, and prevents drastic cuts in state-fiunded medical coverage, public safety and human services.

UFE commends the voters of Oregon, Vote Yes for Oregon, and TFOC members, Tax Fairness Oregon and Our Oregon, for their contributions to this historic victory.

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RW Success: Intel scraps online-only annual meeting

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"When Intel first announced plans to move its annual shareholder meeting exclusively online, the company did not anticipate the shareholder backlash. ‘We thought it was going to be completely non-controversial. We just have local retirees come to the physical meeting,’ says Cary Klafter, Intel’s VP of legal and corporate affairs and corporate secretary. [...]

Timothy Smith, senior VP of Walden Asset Management’s environmental, social and governance group, believes virtual meetings create a ‘disembodied experience’ for the shareholder. If you are alone at home or in your office, ‘how do you know for sure if other investors are also concerned about x or y?’ Smith asks. [...]

A shareholder resolution filed with Intel, including signatories from Walden Asset Management and United for a Fair Economy (UFE), states, ‘We believe the tradition of in-person annual meetings plays an important role in holding management accountable to stockholders. In contrast, online-only annual meetings could allow companies to control which questions and concerns are heard and manipulate the exchanges between shareowners and the company. Face-to-face annual meetings allow for an unfiltered dialogue between shareholders and management.’ [...]"

Read the full article by Katie Feuer in Cross Border's IR Magazine.

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Record Bank Profits - American Dream Foreclosed

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Mike Prokosch"Last week, JP Morgan Chase launched the 2010 Wall Street Bonus Sweepstakes. The bank is still losing money on consumer services, but well-heeled investors and financial traders more than made up the difference. The bank announced $11.7 billion in profits and $26.9 billion in compensation, including bonuses that will run in the multimillions for the top executives. Goldman Sachs reported record profits of $13.4 billion, and is set to dole out a staggering $16.2 billion in compensation and bonuses, which could provide an average of nearly $500,000 per employee. And Morgan Stanley, even having sustained a loss in 2009, has set aside $14.4 billion for compensation and bonuses.

Then there's Roberto Velasquez -- the other face of the foreclosure crisis.

Mr. Velasquez, a general contractor, bought a single-family home in Dedham, Massachusetts six years ago. Unfortunately, his mortgage turned out to be a predatory time bomb. After a few affordable years, the interest rate on his adjustable-rate mortgage ballooned and his payments rose to $4,800 a month. He kept up though; until the Wall Street crash knocked the stuffing out of the construction industry. Then he fell three months behind.

Mr. Velasquez found jobs and came up with the three months' payments, but the bank wouldn't work with him. His home was foreclosed on in November. A local bank offered to buy the home and sell it back to Mr. Velasquez for its present market value, which is the most his bank would get for the house if they sold it at auction. Still no deal. 'We did what they asked,' says Mr. Velasquez, 'but they don't want to work with anybody.' [...]"

Read the full op-ed by Mike Prokosch on

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UFE's Estate Tax Message Reaches South Texas

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Brian Miller"On Jan. 1, the estate tax, an essential part of the U.S. tax system for nearly 100 years, disappeared because Congress failed to act in December.

Congressional leaders now are pledging to act early this year to reinstate the federal estate tax retroactive to Jan. 1. In the meantime, rhetoric over the estate tax is heating up while Congress grapples with what to do now.

This crazy situation is the result of the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich, tax cuts that were supposed to lead to “trickle-down” prosperity for the rest of us.

What we have seen instead is stagnation of wages for most Americans, while those at the very top have become extraordinarily rich. In fact, disparities of wealth and income are now at the highest level since the Gilded Age just before the stock market crash of 1929.

With so much wealth in so few hands, our economy has begun to operate more like a casino, with high-risk speculation fueling boom-and-bust cycles that have wrecked communities across our country.

The gilded yachts of the super-rich have left in their wake capsized rafts of the unemployed and whole communities drowning in foreclosures. That's not what America should be about. [...]"

Read the full op-ed by Brian Miller in the San Antonio Express-News.

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