As we close in on Black History Month, the soothsaying jesters at The Daily Show have—in brilliantly hilarious fashion—taken heed of the ways racism continues to rear its ugly head in modern day.
UFE's 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day report, citing the groundbreaking book, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, acknowledges some of the societally damaging effects of economic policies that fail to account for the factors of race and inequality.
In the video below, The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac builds on that, revealing how nasty things can get when society attacks, history is ignored, people are devalued, and the most marginalized communities—like Turkey Creek, MS—are nearly wiped from existence.
Just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we released our 8th annual report on racial economic inequality in the United States.
This year's report, State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?, surveys the impact of a belt-tightening, deficit-reducing, tax-cutting and, ultimately, government-shrinking economic agenda on communities of color.
Our research explains that if such an austerity agenda advances, Dr. King's dream of racial equality in the U.S. will be pushed further out of reach.
- Read a summary of the report.
- Watch a video of co-authors, Brian Miller and Mazher Ali, discussing key points of the report.
With this report, we are calling on Americans of all races to stand up for a more racially just and inclusive economy – one that brings people together, rather than tears us apart. We hope you'll help us spread the word.
Here are ways you can help:
- Share this email and the report as broadly as you're able. Use social media to get this information into your online networks.
- Read the report and write op-eds, letters to your local editors and/or blog about what it means to you.
- Have conversations with your family, friends, colleagues and other community members, and ask them to do the same.
- Stay informed on the issues outlined in State of the Dream 2011, and other issues of racial inequality, and take every opportunity to share your positions with your elected officials.
Also, on MLK Day this Monday, January 17th, consider participating in a day of service as a way to honor Dr. King's legacy.
"Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood."
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "I Have a Dream" speech, Washington, DC, August 28, 1963
Happy MLK Day.
MLK envisioned a work where the color of one's skin mattered about as much as the color of one's toothbrush. Sadly, the juxtaposition between the beauty of MLK's dream and the reality of racial and economic equality in America today is startling.
According to a new report released today by United for a Fair Economy—State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?—the racial economic divide in this country remains significant. For example: for every dollar of net wealth held by Whites, Latinos hold 12 cents and Blacks hold just 10 cents. Blacks are 90 percent more likely and Latinos are 50 percent more likely to be unemployed, and those who do work earn significantly less than their White counterparts—Blacks earn 57 cents and Latinos earn 59 cents to each dollar of White median family income.
Austerity measures supported by GOP and Tea Party activists will hurt all of us who rely on good schools, safe roads, and strong communities. But beyond that, austerity measures will simply worsen the economic inequality and prevent us from realizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream.
This video features Mazher Ali and Brian Miller of United for a Fair Economy, two of the co-authors of the report, discussing the key findings of the report.
Select Coverage of State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?
State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom? surveys the impacts of a tax-cutting, government-shrinking economic agenda – as prescribed by Republican leadership with Tea Party allies – on communities of color.
We find that if such an agenda advances, the dream of a racially equal society, as described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over four decades ago, will be pushed even further out of reach.
If you are a media representative or blogger on social and economic issues and are interested in covering this report, please contact Maz Ali at 617-423-2148 x101 and/or [email protected]. Scroll down for select media coverage of this report.
February 27, 2011
The nearly 400-year history of black people in America has always been a race to catch up. Recent data shows that history has not changed.
United for a Fair Economy last month released its “State of the Dream Report” showing that African Americans have only 10 cents in net wealth compared with 12 cents for Latinos and a dollar for whites. [...]
Joblessness is a major problem, too, among people of color. This is a “who you know” job market, which embraces white privilege. [...]
The...report also found that...whites are three times as likely as blacks and 4.6 times as likely as Latinos to benefit from the tax breaks for those earning more than $250,000. The report also shows that the benefits of the reduced tax rate for capital gains and dividends flowed “overwhelmingly to whites.”
That and the weakening of the estate tax will continue to widen the wealth gap. Again, this is the disadvantaged history of blacks in America, beginning as people who were property by law.
Read the full column by Lewis Diuguid on KansasCity.com.
February 24, 2011
Look a little closer at who really stands to lose if Scott Walker gets his way: Women and minorities
Amid all the rightful outrage over Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to do away with collective bargaining rights for public sector unions in Wisconsin, one important point has been neglected: The demise of public sector unions would be most detrimental to women and African-Americans, who make up a disproportionate share of the public sector workforce. [...]
According to a report by the nonprofit United for a Fair Economy, blacks are 30 percent more likely than the overall workforce to hold public sector jobs.
Read the full post by Alyssa Battistoni on Salon.com
February 23, 2011
Racism is the salvation of late-stage American capitalism. For hundreds of years, real facts of human existence have been routinely turned on their heads, and non-facts accepted as ultimate truths, all to justify white supremacy. A society so afflicted can believe literally anything. Thus, the Republicans achieve wondrous success by planting the words "We're broke" in the mouths of men and women who are transparently rich, and who in turn serve the interests of the super-rich. [...]
This governmental brokenness coexists with December's Obama-GOP two-year, $850 billion tax giveaway, 40 percent of which goes to the top five percent of income earners, while 25 percent will go to the top one percent, according to the United for a Fair Economy.
Read the full column on OpEdNews.com.
February 19, 2010
When asked recently how they feel about their future, 85 percent of blacks said they are optimistic, with 65 percent indicating they specifically feel secure about their financial situation... [...]
Fifty-six percent of blacks, compared with 44 percent of whites, said the current economic situation is not causing stress in their lives.
The confidence level of blacks in the race and recession survey is in stark contrast to the depressing economic data showing that the economic crisis is still plaguing the African American community. [...]
Read the full column by Michelle Singletary on WashingtonPost.com.
February 10, 2011
Black and Latino families are continuing to disproportionally experience economic hardship, points out another report from the Boston-based research organization United for a Fair Economy. The reason is that they entered the recession with a meager cushion. In 2007, blacks had only a dime and Latinos 12 cents of assets compared to every dollar whites had.
“Very clearly, they don’t have the wealth to withstand and to endure economic hardships in the same way white families are able,” says Mazher Ali, a co-author of the report.
Read the full column by Eva Sanchis on Progressive.org
January 28, 2011
So how is it that this Democratic president has the temerity to deliver a State of the Union address that completely neglects any explicit mention of the calamitous conditions now afflicting his staunchest supporters: the poor? [...]
And things could get even worse for the poor if the president feels the need to cut too many deals with the new Republican-led House in order to appear more centrist.
According to Brian Miller, the executive director of the nonpartisan and Boston-based group United for a Fair Economy and co-author of the group’s report entitled “State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?” released earlier this month, “austerity measures based on the conservative tenets of less government and lower taxes will ratchet down the standard of living for all Americans, while simultaneously widening our nation’s racial and economic divide.” [...]
Read the full column by Charles Blow on NYTimes.com
January 24, 2011
The world has changed since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream on the National Mall in 1963. But this year, during Black History Month, we should remember that King's messages remain as powerful--and necessary--today.
Nearly 43 years after King's assassination, the racial economic divide in our country endures. And if the austerity agenda advocated by deficit hawks in Congress succeeds, the state of King's dream is sure to decline.
MLK once said, "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." The unarmed truth--or data, in this case--is startling.
Read the full post by Wanjiku Mwangi of United for a Fair Economy.
January 20, 2011
"Them that's got shall get. Them that's not shall lose," as the Billie Holiday song goes. "Yes, the strong gets more while the weak ones fade. Empty pockets don't ever make the grade."
It is a tale of two cities in early twenty-first century America. Wall Street is enjoying hefty bonuses and corporate America is awash in cash. Yet, all you can hear, whether inside the Beltway or around state houses is talk of austerity, the new buzzword that's all the rage. Conservative politicians in Congress and in statehosues around the country rode a wave of Tea Party pseudo populism, funded by Republican philanthropy, corporate lobbyists and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Read the full post by David A. Love.
January 19, 2011
Countries around the globe have gone from implementing stimulus packages to austerity measures as a model for economic recovery. The new Republican-led House of Representatives here in the United States is now mounting up a campaign of its own.
Eliminating social service programs, tax cuts for the rich, and rolling back public sector employees are all on the GOP agenda. But a new report argues that these policies will further widen economic inequalities for U.S. minorities and the public at-large.
The Boston-based nonprofit United For a Fair Economy published the findings last Friday to highlight Dr. Martin Luther’s King vision for economic justice. The analysis is not only a rebuke to the House majority’s policies, but also stands in stark contrast to a recent International Monetary Fund report that suggests countries should continue promoting fiscal austerity.
Read the full column by Akito Yoshikane on InTheseTimes.com
January 17, 2011
Nearly a half century after King's I Have a Dream words the black poor are still just as tightly trapped in the grip of poverty and discrimination that King warned about. On the eve of the King national holiday and Obama's second year in office, the Boston based research and economic justice advocacy group, United for a Fair Economy, released its eighth annual King Day report. It found that the gaping disparities in income, wealth, employment, quality and availability of housing, decent schools, and health care between blacks, minorities and whites has grown even wider.
Read the full column by Earl Ofari Hutchinson on HuffingtonPost.com.
January 17, 2011
Making King Bland: Every year on MLK Day, a bland liberal version of Martin Luther King is celebrated, and leftists take time to point out how radical King was, toward the end of his life, at any rate. Two contributions of note. [...]
Read the full post by Chris Sturr on DollarsandSense.org.
January 17, 2011
January 17, 2011
When judging the state of King's dream for economic justice, the verdict is clear: Black America faces a nightmare.
African-Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession's job losses and economic slow-down. And it only promises to get worse: The slash-and-burn agenda proposed by the new Congressional House leadership, as well as many state legislatures, will have a uniquely devastating impact in low-income and black and Latino communities.
Just how bad? A new report by United for a Fair Economy offers a valuable survey of the damage that's already happened, and how it will likely get much worse.
Read the full post by Chris Kromm on SouthernStudies.org.
January 17, 2011
Whenever governments cut spending, the pain is uneven.
But African Americans are especially vulnerable, as a disproportionately high number rely on government dollars for crucial services, a new study has found. As black people are more dependant than white people on public safety nets, and are more likely to be on public payrolls, governmental austerity could wound the black community especially severely.
Read the full column by William Alden on HuffingtonPost.com.
January 16, 2011
"[B]ecause we exist in a society that has an infrastructure and legacy of racism, the effect of these policies is the same as explicitly racist ones. For example, if you work at the DMV in your state and you're a minority, it probably will seem very much like racism to have your job eliminated while simultaneously the wealthy White guy at your counter is registering his new Bentley as a result of his brand new tax cut. Especially if half your co-workers are of color and most of the new luxury vehicle registrations are from people who are White."
Read the full post on DailyKos.com.
January 15, 2011
Just the other day, though, one of my more socially liberal friends forwarded a story about how the top 1% has seen massive wealth increases in the last 30 years while the lowest 40% have seen not only a drop, but have fallen into the negative wealth zone (owing more money with very little assets).
Could this finally be a tipping point? [...]
Just in time for that tipping point, my friends at United for A Fair Economy have released their 2011 State of the Dream Report. With the Republican majority in the House demanding “austerity,” and Democracts likely to join them on some of their agenda items, this report shows who will get hurt the worst by “centrist” economic policies.
Read the full post by Craig Wiesner.
January 14, 2011
As we prepare to observe MLK Day Monday, we take a look at the "state of the dream"
The group United for a Fair Economy released a report today that sheds some light on how far we've come in realizing Dr. King's dream.
It shows that current public policies worsens the racial economic gap...hitting African Americans and Latinos hardest.
Read the full post by Nordia Epps on WDEF.com.
January 14, 2011
In advance of Martin Luther King Day next Monday, United for a Fair Economy has released its 8th annual "State of the Dream" report, surveying the economic challenges facing workers of color. The 2011 edition focuses on the impact of economic austerity on African American and Latino workers.
The report documents several ways in which the austerity agenda sweeping Washington hurts the African American and Latino middle- and working-class.
Read the full post by John Schmitt.
Ninety-seven percent of Americans got the muddy end of the stick in the lopsided tax bill President Obama signed into law in December. Of that 97 percent, people of color will suffer the most.
When it comes to tax policy, the national conversation typically fails to account for race as a factor. So, although the progressive tax movement suffered a setback in the Obama-GOP tax deal, the debate offered reason for hope in the coming two-year battle over the estate tax and top-tier Bush tax cuts.
The Congressional Black Caucus stepped up to express its overwhelming distaste for the tax deal. In doing so, those legislators have signaled their awareness of the connection between tax breaks for the super-rich and the economic backsliding of African American communities. CBC member Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. likened President Obama's tax plan to Reaganomics:
"I'm worried that the deal President Obama cut with Republicans sets us up for a Reagan-style set of bad choices…That was President Reagan's strategy: a 'starve the beast' plan of lowered taxes and increased military spending that would force Congress to make deep cuts in programs for the most vulnerable."
The CBC wasn't alone in their outrage. A group of Black church leaders, representing 50,000 congregations, loudly denounced the tax deal. Reverend W. Franklyn Richardson, chairman of the Conference of National Black Churches, wrote:
"Based on our prophetic responsibility to speak to those in power on behalf of the poor, underserved, and vulnerable, we find it utterly shameful that those who insisted that the deficit be reduced, now celebrate billions of dollars being added to the deficit as tax cuts for the wealthy."
Latinos are also among those to feel the scald of poor tax policy. Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Carribean Communities (NALACC), explains the insecurities Latinos, like African Americans, face in the Obama-GOP tax deal:
"The continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% in this time of crisis is an utterly irresponsible act. With the incoming Congress, it is foreseeable that the significant increase in federal debt generated by this "compromise" will be used as a leading argument to enact cutbacks in key social programs that will inevitably have a disproportional negative impact on Latino and Latin American immigrant communities in the U.S."
In the short-term, a worrisome finding in the Obama-GOP tax plan is that the poorest Americans would experience a slight tax increase due to the replacement of the President's "Make Work Pay" tax credit with a temporary 2 percent cut to the payroll tax. Workers of color are strongly represented in the lowest tax brackets, and would therefore carry a disproportionate amount of the weight of that tax hike.
The payroll tax cut itself is like whiskey in a Red Bull can. Measures that cut holes in safety net programs–as this cut threatens to do with Social Security–are dangerous for the working class and people of color, who are more likely to rely on those programs than white Americans. If the payroll tax cut now is used as a reason to cut benefits later, the overall economic impact will be more contractionary than stimulative.
In determining which way is forward, we must constantly consider the type of society in which we want to live. At the most basic level, many of us want the same things, regardless of race or ethnicity: meaningful work that adequately provides basic needs for ourselves and our families, time and the means for recreation and others with which to enjoy it.
We first have to realize that when our communities as a whole do well, we as individuals are more likely to do well. Then it's up to us to create the circumstances that make that possible by fighting for policies that provide opportunity to the most vulnerable populations.
It starts with you and I. We get informed, we take action and we pay it forward to as many others as possible.
The House Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus are wise in their righteous opposition of the shameful tax compromise put forth by the Republican Caucus and the Obama Administration. Their message is clear: there will be no deal until significant improvements are made to the package. We must encourage them to hold the line on that demand.
The most inexcusable part of the Obama-GOP package is the dramatic slashing of the federal estate tax even further beyond the already weakened 2009 law. Although the estate tax impacts less than 0.25% of all estates – the wealthiest of the wealthy – it has profound implications for all Americans and communities of color in particular. By curbing the transfer of unlimited wealth from generation to generation, the estate tax is an important tool for ensuring that the inequalities of generations past, including those drawn along the lines of race, do not forever haunt our nation.
For much of U.S. history, white Americans have had greater opportunities to build wealth, often with the help of the federal government programs such as the Homestead Act and the GI Bill. African-Americans were largely denied these opportunities as the weight of overt racism, Jim Crow, bank redlining, and more prevented African-Americans from closing the gap with their white counterparts. Though many of these unjust structures and policies are now gone, the inequalities they created continue to this day thanks to the power of inheritance.
Currently, African-Americans earn 62 cents and Latinos earn 68 cents for every dollar of white income. Troubling as these numbers are, the wealth disparities are even more unsettling. African-Americans have only 10 cents and Latinos have only 12 cents of net wealth for every dollar of white net wealth. To see these appalling disparities, is to see generations of injustice carried forward as wealth, mostly in white hands, is transferred from one generation to the next.
This intergenerational transfer of wealth takes place over many years, including help in buying a first car, paying for college, or subsidizing the down payment on a first home. The apex of this transfer though is at the time of death, when the remainder of the parent’s wealth is usually transferred to the children or grandchildren.
Because the estate tax acts as a check to the concentration of wealth at the very top, it helps to even the economic playing field for each generation to follow. That is precisely why it is of critical importance not only to communities of color, but also to working class white communities
Obama’s decision to concede so much ground to Republicans on this issue is simply baffling. Further weakening of the estate tax is unacceptable. We should instead be finding ways to significantly strengthen it. It’s also clear that buckling on the estate tax, and the tax cuts for the wealthy more broadly, would be dangerous move for Democrats. Congressional Republicans will leverage the deficits created by this tax giveaway to millionaires and billionaires for massive cuts in social services and other public structures, on which all Americans depend.
In the days ahead, we must rally behind the House Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus. Encourage them to stand strong and not back off their demands in those crucial negotiations. In the words of Frederick Douglas, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."