Black History Month may have come to an end, but the fight against racial injustice is hardly over. In order to close the racial economic divide, we must first take an honest look at the policies and practices that created and perpetuate racial disparities.
Here are 11 ways federal government giveaways gave an economic headstart to white people while excluding people of color.
1. Free land
White Revolutionary War veterans were given nine million acres of Indian land.
2. Legalized squatting
In 1841, the U.S. government legalized squatting, allowing white settlers to take over Native American land.
3. Military-enforced squatting
The U.S. Government helped enforce squatting by employing the U.S. Army out west to beat back Native Americans from land coveted by white settlers.
4. More free land
In addition to conquering half of Mexico, the U.S. Government reclaimed Latino landowners’ land for minor infractions such as missing paperwork or back taxes, and then sold it to Anglo settlers at a minor cost.
5. Even more free land
The Homestead Act of 1862 provided free or very inexpensive land was provided by the government to 1.5 million white families.
6. Revoked promises to slaves
Following the Civil War, freed slaves were promised ‘40 acres and a mule.’ Following Lincoln's death, this promise was revoked and land was returned to its previous White owners.
7. Preferential treatment of white workers
Through the New Deal, the U.S. Government provided minimum wages, union rights, and social security to industrial workers, almost all of whom were white. These same benefits, however, were denied to agricultural and domestic workers, most of whom were people of color.
8. Government-sponsored aid
Government-sponsored aid was provided to struggling white farmers while denying it to most black farmers from the 1930’s right through the 1980s.
9. GI Bill benefits
Provided free college education, vocational training, and cheap mortgages to nearly two million white WWII vets via the GI Bill, while simultaneously blocking most veterans of color from accessing the same benefits.
10. Neighborhood investment through homeownership
Invested in infrastructure to expand suburban neighborhoods where white households were able to access government-subsidized mortgages while urban, inner-city neighborhoods were red-lined.
11. Tax breaks
Tax breaks on investment income (such as dividends, capital gains and inheritances), which are disproportionately owned by wealthy white people, have been cut and lowered much more than taxes on income from work.
How can tax fairness advocates and businesses effectively bond together to reclaim the myth that progressive taxation is anti-business? This free Tax Fairness Tune-Up webinar will provide insights and practical tips for grassroots organizers and business leaders alike. Register today!
RECLAIMING THE PRO-BUSINESS NARRATIVE: Connecting Grassroots & Businesses Leaders for Progressive Tax Reform
Thursday, March 15 from 2:00-3:00pm EST
Free and open to tax fairness advocates and allies.
This webinar will explore how to effectively integrate businesses into progressive tax campaigns. Presenters will explore commonly-held myths surrounding personal and business success and how tax fairness organizers can effectively reclaim this narrative by working in conjuction with business leaders.
This webinar is appropriate for tax fairness organizers looking to engage business leaders in progressive tax campaigns and business leaders who wish to partner in statewide coalitions for progressive tax reform.
Brian Miller, Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy and co-author of The Self-Made Myth: and The Truth about How Government Helps Businesses and Individual Succeed
Scott Klinger, Tax Policy Director from The American Small Business Coalition
Bob Fulkerson, Executive Director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) and member of the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative
|Watch this video to see what people are saying!|
The Self-Made Myth co-authors, Brian Miller and Mike Lapham, will be on tour in 2012 discussing the book as it relates to the national dialogue about inequality, taxes, the role of government, and other public policy questions before us. Some of the remarkable individuals profiled in the book will join Mike and Brian in select cities.
See details about book tour events and register below. Tour dates are still being scheduled, so join our mailing list in the right sidebar to stay in the loop as new tour cities are announced!
|March 7, 2012||6:00 p.m.||Boston, MA||Boston Public Library (Register)|
|March 29, 2012||7:00 p.m.||New York, NY||New York Society for Ethical Culture (Register)|
|April 18, 2012||7:00 p.m.||Portland, OR||First Unitarian Church / Eliot Center (Register)|
|May 9, 2012||7:30 p.m.||Seattle, WA||Town Hall Seattle (Register)|
|May 23, 2012||7:00 p.m.||San Francisco, CA||The Bay Area Hub SoMa (Register)|
In the past few months, we’ve heard more than ever about economic inequality. This increased awareness is a breath of fresh air, but it’s not enough by itself. We can’t just point out the existence of inequality. We must uproot the ideological underpinnings that support it. No matter how unequal wealth and income are, if people can rationalize it in their minds as the result of some working harder or being more virtuous than others, then our efforts to rein in inequality will fall flat.
The "self-made man" is as American as a Norman Rockwell image. It is also just as overly romanticized and wholly separated from reality. Indeed, the notion that individual success is entirely autonomous has dangerous policy implications. It's time to do some myth bustin' and put the "self-made myth" to rest, once and for all.
UFE's new book, The Self-Made Myth, challenges the by-your-own-bootstraps myth by offering real stories of business and individual success. It also disproves the claims of several modern-day self-made business heros, including the familiar faces below. These silver-spooners have no qualms about bashing and starving government, even though Uncle Sam was (and continues to be) a key business partner in enabling their success.
Take a look at the images below, share with your networks, and help us bust the self-made myth once and for all.
|Debbie Bosanek in looks on as President Obama delivers his 2012 State of the Union address.|
It's true. Warren Buffett's secretary is a real person. After so many years as a nameless, faceless talking point in support of higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires, the country's most famous secretary has emerged—in momentous fashion at that.
Debbie Bosanek is her name, and she was revealed to the world during President Obama's third State of the Union address:
Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
Buffett's super-low tax rate became a hot topic in the early 2000s, but it took nearly a decade for that fact to shake its purely rhetorical quality. Obama gave the issue new life last year when he announced his intent to pursue the Buffett Rule, or a tax on millionaires to reduce the growing economic chasm between the top 1% and everybody else. In his SOTU address, he called for a minimum 30% tax rate for millionaires.
Now, not only does the Buffett Rule have the name and face of, in Bosanek's words, "an average citizen who needs a voice," but it also has numbers to place it's impact in context. Our friends at Citizens for Tax Justice calculate that the Buffett Rule would raise $50 billion this year if implemented and would affect a mere 0.08% of taxpayers.
This week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) decided to ride the wave. In the wake of the SOTU, Whitehouse is introducing a version of the Buffett Rule for a vote in the Senate with his Paying A Fair Share Act. The bill offers a very straightfoward way to meet the President's 30% rate on millionaires without changing existing income tax rates or the preferential treatment of capital gains and dividends that chiefly benefits the very wealthy. While we'd love to see more holistic reform of the tax code, we applaud the Senator for getting the conversation started.
The bill is certain to meet rabid opposition from Congressional Republicans. But with polls showing overwhelming support for the Buffett Rule, the GOP may struggle to justify continued tax breaks for the people who really don't need them, especially in an election year.
Dedrick Muhammad, Senior Director of the NAACP's Economic Department and co-author of State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority, and WPKN radio's "Between the Lines" host Scott Harris discuss the alarming possibilities for the race and class divides in U.S. if social and economic trends continue for the next several decades. Muhammad shares various strategies to reduce racial disparities and urges listeners to encourage support for those solutions from their lawmakers.
State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority co-authors Wanjiku Mwangi and Tim Sullivan have an in-depth discussion of the report with WBAI Pacifica "Talk Back!" host Hugh Hamilton on his Martin Luther King, Jr. Day broadcast and fundraising drive. UFE and WBAI are partnering to offer the report as a complimentary gift to the first 100 listeners to pledge $50 or more toward WBAI's work to "foster understanding amongst nations and individuals, encourage creativity, and promote innovative, uncensored distribution of news." Visit WBAI.org to pledge your support.
Track 1 (feat. interview with Tim Sullivan and Wanjiku Mwangi):
Select Coverage of State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority
UFE's ninth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day report assesses the current racial economic divide and offers a glimpse at a future that could be. Its findings should prompt people of all races and walks of life to unite in action for a more just and racially equitable future.
This timely publication is being covered online, in print and in broadcast media. The links below are a sampling, and the list will be updated as new coverage emerges.
If you are a member of the media or a blogger on social and economic issues and would like to schedule an interview with a co-author or spokesperson for the report, please contact Maz Ali at 617-423-2148 x101 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|11/28/2012||NNPA (national syndication)||Lawmakers ponder fiscal cliff, Blacks already in poverty ditch by Freddie Allen|
|11/1/2012||CNN.com||In 2012, Racism's Tenacious Hold on U.S. by Donna Brazile|
Kansas City Star
Nation's Racial Disparities are Steadily Worsening by Lewis Diuguid (Nationally Syndicated!)
|1/13/2012||MSNBC.com||Race Relations & MLK's Dream: Welcome to the Generation Gap by James Eng|
|1/13/2012||CommonDreams.org||Massive Movement Needed to Fix Perverse Concentration of Wealth|
|1/13/2012||NonprofitQuarterly.org||Report Finds King's "Dream" Looks Bleak Unless New Alliances Converge|
|1/14/2012||SEIU national blog||State of the Dream 2012 synopsis by Kawana Lloyd|
|1/15/2012||Inequality.org||A Financial Nest Egg for Every American Baby?|
|1/15/2012||The Daily World||Remembering Marting Luther King, Jr.|
|1/15/2012||Black Economic Development||Racial Economic Divide Threatens Stability of the Entire Economy|
|1/16/2012||KBOO-FM (Portland, OR)||Tom Becker reads from State of the Dream 2012|
|1/16/2012||Concord Monitor||King's Legacy: Workers' Rights by Arnie Alpert|
|1/16/2012||Black Agenda Report||Listen to Black Agenda Radio (week of January 16, 2012) with Glen Ford|
|1/16/2012||Facing South (Institute for Southern Studies blog)||Dr. King's March to Occupy D.C. for Economic Justice by Chris Kromm|
|1/17/2012||YourBlackWorld.com||What is the State of "The Dream?" by Dr. Julianne Malveaux|
|1/17/2012||WPKN-FM "Between the Lines" with Scott Harris||PODCAST feat. Director of NAACP Economic Dept. & State of the Dream 2012 co-author Dedrick Muhammad|
|1/17/2012||AllGov.com||Median Income for White Families in U.S. Almost Double Blacks and Latinos|
|1/17/2012||OurFuture.org (Campaign for America's Future)||Romney on the Side of Disenfranchising Black Voters by Isaiah J. Poole|
|1/17/2012||WBAI-FM "Talk Back!" with Hugh Hamilton||PODCAST feat. State of the Dream 2012 co-authors, Wanjiku Mwangi & Tim Sullivan|
|1/17/2012||The Louisiana Weekly||U.S. Cities, Nation Face Challenge as Americans Paulse to Remember MLK|
|1/18/2012||The Seattle Medium||A Diverse U.S. Population Will Not Guarantee Parity by George E. Curry|
|1/19/2012||Dollars & Sense magazine||The Great Recession in Black Wealth by Judy Wicks-Lim|
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life to the struggle for racial equality. The vast racial economic divide remains a fact of American life more than forty years after his assassination.
White 7.5%, Black 15.8%, Latino 11.0%
Ratio to White: Black 2.1 to 1, Latino 1.5 to 1
Median Family Income (2010):
White $70,000, Black $40,000, Latino $40,000
Ratio to White: Black 57¢ per dollar, Latino 57¢ per dollar
Poverty Rates (2010):
White 9.5%, Black 25.7%, Latino 25.4%
Ratio to White: Black 2.7 to 1, Latino 2.7 to1
Education - Adults with College Degrees (Bachelor’s or Higher) (2010):
White 33.2%, Black 20.0%, Latino 13.9%
Ratio to White: Black 60% as likely to have a bachelor’s degree, Latino 42% as likely to have a bachelor’s degree
Incarceration Rates (2009):
White 0.39%, Black 2.39%, Latino 0.97% of the population is in prison
Ratio to White: Black 6.1 times more likely to be in prison, Latino 1.5 times more likely to be in prison.
Average Family Net Wealth (2007) Near the Height of the Housing Bubble:
White $675,000, Black $134,000, Latino $185,000
Ratio to White: Black 20¢ per dollar, Latino 27¢ per dollar
Dr. King described the civil rights victories of the 1960s as having achieved “a degree of decency, not of equality.” Racial economic equality remains a disturbingly elusive and distant dream. In wealth and incarceration, the Black White divide has worsened in the last thirty years. The economic situation for the average Latino family has deteriorated overall relative to Whites since 1980.
Read our 2012 State of the Dream report, The Emerging Majority, for more details on how we got here and where we are headed. In the report, we look thirty years ahead to 2042 when the Census Bureau projects that people of color will become a majority of the population. We examine the trends in racial ineqaulity over the last thirty years, since the election of Ronald Reagain in 1980, and project those trends thirty years forward to 2042.