Black households earned 61 cents for every dollar of White median incomes
By Charlene Crowell
Nationally in 2018, Black households earned 61 cents for every $1 of White household median income. Further, the Black/White median household income gaps ranged from 87 cents per dollar in Maine and Hawaii, down to 32 cents per dollar in the District of Columbia. The disparity in median translates into 22% of all Black Americans living in poverty, a gap of 13% compared to Whites who are poor. Wisconsin’s gap is 23%.
“In noting the socioeconomic indicators of median income, poverty rates and health insurance rates, I found that White people had more favorable outcomes than Black people in every state,” wrote Hernandez Kent.
Poverty’s racial disparity extends to other key measures such as median incomes, homeownership and retirement.
Even with the enactment of the Fair Housing Act more than 50 years ago, today’s Black homeownership rate is dwindling. According to Ohio State University professor, Trevon Logan, “The homeownership gap between Blacks and whites is higher today in percentage terms than it was in 1900.”
Prof. Logan’s position is bolstered by findings from a 2020 report by the National Association of Realtors, A Snapshot of Race and Homebuying in America that found:
62% of Black mortgage applicants were rejected because of their debt to income ratio, compared to only 5% of whites; and 51% of Blacks are first-time homeowners, compared to only 30% of Whites.
With lower and life-long disparities in median income earnings, the ability to prepare for retirement is hindered as well. Social Security figures each worker’s retirement benefit on the basis of a taxpayer’s 35 highest-earning years. With lower incomes and a corresponding lack of monies available for savings or retirement, Black Americans rely on Social Security more than other races and/or ethnicities. Now, for much of Black America, Social Security is a financial lifeline and often the major retirement benefit.
In sum, it seems that in 2020, historic ills remain virtually unchanged. A key component of what continues is police violence against Black America.
In 1963, escalating racial tensions that worsened with growing numbers of peaceful protests that became violent by counter-protesters and led to multiple arrests, prompted President John F. Kennedy to deliver a nationally televised address on America’s racial reckoning.
“One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free”, he continued. “They are not free from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this Nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”
Fast forward and it is nearly inconceivable that the current president would deliver such an address. In fact, President Trump and HUD Secretary Ben Carson co-authored a recent op ed in the Wall Street Journal that portrayed mixed income neighborhoods as “social engineering”. The redlining of Black communities, racial covenants, real estate steering and restrictive zoning laws that together perpetuated segregated housing were never acknowledged in the guest column.
In response, Nikitra Bailey’s the Center for Responsible Lending recently spoke with ABC News saying that the suburbs “intentionally created opportunities for White families while holding back opportunities for families of color…What we are really talking about is opportunity in our nation.”
With escalated violence in a growing number of cities occurring just months before an election, everyday citizens and scholars are echoing community and national leaders on the connection between key policies like housing segregation to violent eruptions.
Last December, the Journal of the National Medical Association, the professional organization of Black physicians, published an article titled, The Relationship between Racial Residential Segregation and Black-White Disparities in Fatal Police Shootings at the City Level, 2013–2017.
The authors concluded that “Racial residential segregation is a significant predictor of the magnitude of the Black-White disparity in fatal police shootings at the city level. Efforts to ameliorate the problem of fatal police violence must move beyond the individual level and consider the interaction between law enforcement officers and the neighborhoods that they police.”
Before the thousands gathered this August, Rev. Sharpton also spoke to this same concern.
“It’s time we have a conversation with America. We need to have a conversation about your racism, about your bigotry, about your hate, about how you would put your knee on our neck while we cry our lives. We need a new conversation…You act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back. You act like it’s no trouble to put a choke hold on us while we scream, ‘I can’t breathe,’ 11 times. You act like it’s no trouble to hold a man down on the ground until you squeeze the life out of him.”
“Our vote is dipped in blood,” he continued. “Our vote is dipped in those that went to their grave. We don’t care how long the line, we don’t care what you do, we’re going to vote, not for one candidate or the other, but we going to vote for a nation that’ll stop the George Floyds, that’ll stop the Breonna Taylors.”
Let the church say Amen.