In a CNN.com op-ed, Donna Brazile reminds us that race is still a factor in our country. A recent AP poll actually shows a rise in both anti-Black and anti-Latino attitudes. And indeed, the very same people who promote the idea of the United States as a post-racial society remain eager to exploit racial resentment for their own gain.
Brazile urges us to beware of snobbishly deceptive "dog-whistle" politics. With a little bit of active listening, you'll recognize "dog-whistling" as an underhanded compliment. Take former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu's recent comment about Gen. Colin Powell's support of a certain African American U.S. president.
"You have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or that he's got a slightly different reason for supporting President Obama...I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him."
This crafty mash-up of words, to some, might sound innocuous, polite, even. But, the hidden signals — "You have to wonder..." or "somebody of your own race" — are merely the stubborn tars of racism, covered in the weightless feathers of empty accolade with, "I applaud Colin."
If you noticed the scum dripping from that statement, CONGRATS! You heard the dog whistle! Language, however, is but one of the ways racism manifests itself in our supposedly "post-racial" society.
Brazile looks to rapidly shifting U.S. demographics as one dimension of racial bias. She cites UFE's 2012 State of the Dream report (yay for us!), which explains that by 2030, the majority of those under 18 will be people of color. By 2042, non-Whites will comprise the majority of the U.S. population. Mix in the fact that 80% of retirees are White and own a significantly greater portion of the country's wealth than younger, minority communities, and you'll see what's essentially a racially-charged class war.
The more disturbing effects of modern-day racism are the social and economic deterioration. People of color are earning and building wealth reserves at alarmingly lower rates than their white counterparts. Predatory banking practices, cuts to public services, and voter disenfranchisement efforts are ravaging communities of color and further muffling their political voices. And, concentrated poverty turns poor communities into zones of social toxicity that are difficult to escape, especially for young people who know only that hopeless reality.
We can't expect to meaningfully address race and class inequities until we build a more cohesive national community. The sooner we accept not just our history of racial division but also the current racial divide, the sooner we can start working together to provide shared opportunity to all people.
This is a fun read and a great way to raise community awareness of the real story behind the economic crisis and racial inequality. A friend of UFE sent this letter to the editor of his local paper (The Winchester Star) in response to a misguided attack on immigrants. And it got published! If you grew up on The Andy Griffith Show, you'll enjoy this...
"One of the local malcontents wrote a letter to the editor about how we should all go back to Mayberry, before all these immigrants and freeloaders showed up. My response:
So I have good news and bad news.
The good news? You can go back to Mayberry any time you want. The bad news? That's because it's a TV show!!
But back in the real world, you seem to be disappointed with people who don't work hard, don't contribute, and don't go to church. So I know, despite your reference to immigration, that you aren't worried about Latino immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants. They all work, because if they don't work, they can't stay here, since they are not eligible for most benefit programs. They pay into Social Security at their jobs, even though they will never see a penny of it. And boy do they go to church.
Church membership is pretty high in the African-American community too, and most African-Americans have jobs if they can get em.
OK, so I know then who you are upset about when you write about folks taking advantage of the system. It's the large finance corporations that got the laws rewritten for them, and the Koch Brothers who are busy getting environmental regulations rewritten so they won't be held accountable when they cause deaths and disease. You're talking about the fact that the wealth gap has grown enormously (see http://www.faireconomy.org) and taxes on the rich have dropped since "Mayberry days," and that both Democrats and Republicans are in bed with the rich. So, welcome to Occupy Wall Street, Mayberry version!
By the way, you apparently didn't notice that the big banks and Wall Street took care of that immigration issue you are so concerned about. When they crashed the economy with fraudulent mortgage-backed securities, net immigration ground to a halt. Large numbers of immigrants lost their homes here, lost their jobs, and decided they were better off in their nation of birth. So I guess that's the good news for you. As our economy goes sour for everyone but the super-rich, we are less attractive to immigrants. Only healthy economies that are fair to everyone attract newcomers seeking jobs and creating businesses.
Sorry, Deputy Fife. We are not going back to Mayberry. But we don't have to keep going downhill either. Here's a good start -- ditch the Bush tax cuts for billionaires, reinstate Glass-Stegall, break up the biggest financial megacorps, and stop going to war for control of oil. Do all that, and you'll be surprised how things improve.
Heck, you will probably find yourself whistling down to the ol' fishin' hole."
(h/t to our friend and former board member, Larry Yates of Virginia)
The Trayvon Martin case illustrates that we still have a hard time dealing with issues of race in this country. The issue of racial injustice, coupled with economic injustice, is not likely to fade away.
The Census Bureau estimates that by 2042, the population will no longer be majority white. Many believe that this demographic shift will automatically bring with it a qualitative improvement in the situation for people of color.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is a segment of white America that deeply fears the demographic changes and sees in them a threat to its status. Such fears lead some of these people to gravitate toward right-wing populism.
But the demographic changes are not expected to bring about any significant improvements for most people of color, particularly blacks and Latinos, according to a new study, State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority, by the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy.
If current trends continue, we will witness widening gaps in income and wealth, as well as in education and incarceration rates. The study predicts, for instance, that blacks will make 61 cents and Latinos will make 45 cents for every dollar whites make in terms of median family income.
Contrary to right-wing populists' "dystopia for whites," the report paints a picture of a reconfigured Jim Crow — almost an apartheid situation of haves and have-nots.
Most whites won't be benefiting, either. The overall living standard of most of this country, which began to decline in the mid-1970s, will continue to decline. The fates of poor and middle-class whites will be much more connected to those of people of color than to the very rich and largely white ruling elite.
The implications of this report are sobering — even frightening.
We need concerted political and economic action in the days and months and years ahead if we are to conquer our racial and economic disparities. That means not just continuing affirmative action. It also means launching policies of redistributive justice.
Let's face it: Those at the top have been redistributing income and wealth their way over the past three decades. If we don't implement policies that redistribute income and wealth to the vast majority of Americans who need it, our country will become increasingly — and dangerously — divided.
Bill Fletcher Jr. is a scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the co-author of "Solidarity Divided." He wrote this for Progressive Media Project.
|A Better Life star Demián Bichir discusses his role as an undocumented day laborer|
We like a movie with a call for justice, and A Better Life is the newest on our must-watch list. This critically acclaimed film has the potential to better shape our views on immigration policy or, rather, the issues that lead to immigration into the US.
The story, set in East L.A., follows Carlos Galindo, an undocumented single father who struggles as a day laborer to make a future of peace, opportunity and economic stability possible for his US-born son.
The movie struck a chord with UFE's Jeannette Huezo:
"People watching A Better Life can see the immigration debate through a human lens. This film can help people to see the social costs of policies that attack immigrants and tear their families apart. Thousands of people face the same challenges and devastations as the Galindos everyday. Anti-immigrant laws like those passed in Alabama, Arizona, California, and other states make those stories all the more frequent."
Immigration policy and immigrant-related issues continue to be a political third rail. A lot of that has to do with the complexity of the issue(s). It's not just an immigration problem. It's about cheap labor. It's about international trade and foreign policy. It's about national security. It's about human rights. It's about a lot of things, and despite what you might hear from mainstream media, it can't boiled down to a soundbite because it's connected to a lot of rarely connected issues.
George Lakoff points out the difficulty of the framing of the immigration issue in our environment of political polarization:
"[The immigration issue] is a complex melange of social, economic, cultural and security concerns — with conservatives and progressives split in different ways with different positions. Framing the recent problem as an 'immigration problem' pre-empts many of these considerations from entering the debate. As a consequence, any reform that 'solves' the immigration problem is bound to be a patchwork solution addressing bits and pieces of much larger concerns."
No one wins with policies that attack immigrants and cause the forced abandonment of children by undocumented parents. Still, there are a lot of xenophobic politicians and pundits out there who zealously support those policies. Ironically, those are often the same talking heads that endlessly beat their "family values" drums, especially during campaign season.
Help to move the public conversation in a better direction by sharing the film with your network. Stop the scapegoating of immigrants by encouraging a more robust dialogue about the many factors that contribute to our "immigration problem." As more people see the bigger picture and take action for immigrant rights, we'll build more power for a rational policy response.
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.
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 [email protected]
|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.
|DOWNLOAD STATE OF THE DREAM 2012|
The last 30 years of public policy have hindered progress toward Dr. King's dream of racial equality. Thirty years from now, people of color will collectively represent the majority of the U.S. population. If we continue along the same governing path, the racial economic divide will remain in 2042 and, in many regards, will be considerably worse.
The racial economic divide is a national embarrassment. Eliminating it should be a moral imperative, and as the non-White share of the population grows, it will become an increasingly urgent economic necessity.
United for a Fair Economy’s ninth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day report, State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority, assesses the state of the racial economic divide since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and uses the trends of the last thirty years to project thirty years forward to 2042.
We find that the past thirty years of public policy has done little to address racial economic disparities. If the current trends continue, the racial economic divide will be immense in 2042 across a wide variety of indicators. Progress toward economic parity between Black and White is slow and inconsistent and, in some cases, inequality is increasing. Latinos who account for most of the growth of the population are, in most cases, experiencing a decrease in economic well being relative to Whites.
If the current trends continue:
Income: Black and Latino median incomes will be 61 cents 45 cents, respectively, for every dollar of median White income in 2042. Blacks will have gained only 4 cents while Latinos will have lost 15 cents of median income relative to Whites from 2010 to 2042.
Poverty: In 2010, poverty rates among Blacks (25.7%) and Latinos (25.4%) were more than two and a half times the White poverty rate. By 2042, the Black and Latino poverty rates will remain 1.9 times and 2.6 times that of the White poverty rate.
Jobs: The current unemployment rates stand at 7.5 percent for Whites, 15.8 percent for Blacks and 11 percent for Latinos. In 2042, Black and Latino unemployment will be 1.8 times and 1.5 times higher than White unemployment, respectively.
Wealth: By 2042, Blacks and Latinos will both have lost ground in average wealth, holding only 19 cents and 25 cents for each dollar of White wealth. The average net worth of Black and Latino families in 2007 was 20 cents and 27 cents, respectively, for every dollar of White net worth.
Higher Education: Black adults were 60 percent as likely to have a college degree as White adults in 2010, while Latino adults were only 42 percent as likely as Whites to have a college degree. By 2042, Black will be 76 percent as likely as Whites to have earned a college degree; Latinos will have become even less likely (37 percent) than Whites to have a college degree.
Incarceration: In 2010, Blacks were a staggering 6.1 times more likely to be incarcerated than Whites. Latinos were 2.5 times more likely than Whites to be incarcerated, and this figure does not include the disproportionately Latino population being held in immigration detention centers. In 2042, Blacks will still be six times and Latinos two times as likely as Whites to be incarcerated.
It does not have to be this way. Public policy does not have to follow the course that it has been on since Reagan. The growing share of the non-White population presents an opportunity for Blacks and Latinos to build political power. In the current era of extraordinary economic inequality, the fate of the vast majority of the White population is more connected with the economic interests of Blacks and Latinos than with the ruling political elite.
Shifting from the dominant conservative public policy direction of the last thirty years that has not addressed racial equality will require a broad coalition dedicated to eliminating the racial economic divide.
We need policy solutions that will significantly reduce the racial divide. Foreclosure relief, federal aid to states and targeted job creation programs are needed to both combat the economic slump and to reduce racial economic disparities. Longer-term strategies including wealth-building programs, increasing taxes on the rich, strengthening safety net programs, ending the war on drugs, and humane immigration reform are needed in order to substantially reduce the racial inequality.
The racial economic divide is the legacy of centuries of White supremacy practiced as national policy. As a nation, we honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday, but we tolerate the perpetuation of racial inequality that he dedicated his life to fighting. If we do not change course, our economy will not be able to bear the swelling numbers of Blacks and Latinos out of work, in poverty and in prison.
Absent a powerful and sustained political movement aligned not just along the lines of race but by economic interests, Whites will still make a disproportionate share of the national income and hold an overwhelming majority of the nation’s wealth and power in 2042.