Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Update to History of Slavery


Dalton Conley, Director of NYU's Center for Advanced Social Science Research, showed that white families, on average, had eight times the accumulated wealth of black families who earned the same, and that remained true even when you adjust for education levels and savings rates. It is, as Conley told me in an interview last year, "the legacy of racial inequality from generations past." (Emphasis mine.)

"The American Dream, or a Nightmare for Black America" by Joshua Holland.

You really have to read the article for yourself, but I can try to summarize it for you.

Basically, racism is still a present problem, and past racism effects us today through the accumulation of wealth or lack there of, a point I made in an earlier post. Yeah, past racism is impacting people who are alive today! So enough with that, "You weren't alive when it happened," argument. Again I say: "People die. Money gains compound interest."

He quotes a study by the Brookings Institution by Julia Isaacs, a Fellow with the Brookings Institution, that found:

-Startlingly, almost half (45 percent) of black children whose parents were solidly middle class end up falling to the bottom of the income distribution, compared to only 16 percent of white children.
-Achieving middle-income status does not appear to protect black children from future economic adversity the same way it protects white children.
-Black children from poor families have poorer prospects than white children from such families. More than half (54 percent) of black children born to parents in the bottom quintile stay in the bottom, compared to 31 percent of white children.

So, the income disparity between blacks and whites has increased, and contrary to what some would have you believe, it's not due to blacks "sitting around complaining." It's also important, maybe more, to look at accumulated wealth where the disparity is even greater, as explained in the first quote.

That may sound like a trite and unimportant fact, but it makes a difference in one's personal financial future if one's parents can pay or help pay for college or a first home. (So those of you who insist on your children making their own way without your help, and/or not leaving anything behind, the Bible has it right: a good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, Proverbs 13:22.) As Holland points out, when it comes to two hypothetical kids who only differ in family net-worth,
"In a true meritocracy, the two would enjoy the same opportunity to get ahead. But the fact that one might graduate from college free and clear while the other is burdened with $50,000 in debt makes a huge difference in terms of their long-term earnings prospects."

What more is that
Studies have shown that whites with criminal records are more likely to be hired than blacks with identical backgrounds and no criminal past and that fake resumes with "black-sounding names" get fewer calls for interviews than others. A study of more than 300,000 auto loans in 33 states even found that black buyers "consistently paid more than white customers, regardless of their credit histories." (Links in original article.)

That is all without even getting into the "sub prime" mortgage lending crisis. And before you get on, "They should've read the papers," or, "They wanted what they couldn't afford and are just getting what they deserve" train, remember that even lawyers have a hard time understanding all the terms of some of these sub prime loans and part of making one's self more "American" is owning a home.

These are some of the problems for which many, but not all, African Americans blame whites. White folks are to blame for blithely accepting the status quo and not fighting to change it. White folks are to blame for ignoring any facts that contradict their self-congratulatory myth that the 60s and 70s solved all the race problems, that any farther disparities are due to the self-segregation or some other "unAmericanism" on the part of minorities. And before you start quoting crime stats and out-of-wedlock birth stats, bear in mind that once you hold for income, problems in the black community are the same as America as whole. For just about every remaining disparity, including crime stats, the explanation is racism, not laziness or lack of ambition or anything else.

Have you ever asked yourself why, when it comes to job discrimination, we're all Americans and affirmative action is only "reverse discrimination"; but when a white man uses racist and misogynistic language to describe a group of mostly young black women, all of a sudden there's a "black community" that should do something about its rap music. No mention that it's mainstream rap, that few in the black community consider it hip-hop, and the listeners and buyers of mainstream rap are overwhelmingly young white males. Nope. That's thrown out the window. Have you considered the racist myth about affirmative action is that it gives opportunities to undeserving, unqualified minorities while bypassing deserving and qualified whites. It never crosses the minds of racists (of any race) that affirmative action prevents undeserving, unqualified whites from taking opportunities from more deserving and more qualified minorities. Until white America admits the truth about American history and the legacy of slavery, there will always be some angst between white and black America.

But since that admitting of truth isn't coming, President Obama or not, it's up to the black community to continue being twice as good and doing twice as much, and maybe even more, to keep ourselves where we know we deserve to be. We owe it to those historically uncredited forefathers and foremothers.

And now that it should be apparent that economic reparations is in order, let's not think of it as trying to make up for the past; instead, let's think of it as one of many steps towards reconciliation.

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This isn't too complicated. If you disagree with me, I'm more than happy to have an honest discussion. I'm quite open to learning new facts and ideas. I'm dying for a conservative to explain their ideas in a sensible way.

But, I do have rules, and they also apply to those who agree with me. They just get the benefit of my already knowing the fact they'll be referring to.

So, here're the comment thread rules:

1 - Use facts.
2 - Refer to policy.
3 - Don't rely on theories and conjectures. Show me how, for example, a public health insurance option will lead to "rationing" of health care.
4 - No unfounded attacks on any entity.

If you break those rules, I will edit your comment to my own whimsical satisfaction.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, I'm not going to entertain too much pro-white/racism-denying discussion. I want this to be a space to discuss strategies to fight racism, not space where I have to fight racism. I want anti-racists to be able to come here for a mental respite. If what you're interested in doing is attempting to demonstrate the fallacy of anti-racism by repeating the same ole comments and questions and accusations we hear all the time, please do that somewhere else.

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