Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Economic Bailout Leaves Out African Americans and Latinos

A new report from United for a Fair Economy finds that African Americans and Latinos are continuing to disproportionately experience economic hardships, and that targeted economic policies are required to address the racial economic divide in the US. The report, entitled State of the Dream 2010: Drained – Jobless and Foreclosed in Communities of Color, is the seventh annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day report from United for a Fair Economy (UFE).

There is no doubt that Wall Street bankers are living in luxury during these hard economic times. New York City Councilman Charles Barron noted, at a recent protest on Wall Street, that Goldman Sachs was giving its traders 18 Billion Dollars of bonuses - nearly two hundred times the amount (100 million dollars) that President Obama pledged in Haiti relief.

As Ajamu Dillahunt, co-author of the report and UFE Board member, has written, "African Americans have gotten less than their share of every federal benefit since the Homestead Act handed out land to white settlers in 1865; since Social Security was set up to exclude domestic and agricultural workers; and since the Urban Renewal program of the 1960s was nicknamed “Negro Removal” because it replaced torn-down white apartments but rarely black apartments."

United for a Fair Economy explains:

In December 2009, The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) boycotted a financial reform vote, demanding that more be done to support suffering Black communities being hit hardest by the recession. The CBC's action was an important step, garnering $6 billion for targeted investments in the House, but much more work remains to be done.

"As recent unemployment statistics confirm, the broad-based economic recovery policies are not reaching those who need it most, including people of color," said Brian Miller, Executive Director of UFE. "Our report contains ample evidence to conclude that without targeted policies, such as those proposed by the CBC, we will never reduce the wide gaps of income and wealth between races."

In December, unemployment for African Americans and Latinos jumped to levels higher than any annual rate in 27 years.

Ajamu Dillahunt, co-author of the report and UFE Board member, explains, "Families survive unemployment better or worse depending on how much of a cushion they have, and African American and Latino families entered the recession with a dangerously low median net worth. In 2007, Blacks had only a dime and Latinos had only 12 cents of assets for every white dollar."

The State of the Dream 2010 report contains a broad range of accessible data and analysis about the current racial divide in terms of unemployment, median income, poverty, net worth, and rate of foreclosures. It includes policy suggestions that would target economic benefits to communities most deeply devastated by the current recession.

"A good model is how we prepare for a potential flu epidemic," says Mike Prokosch another report co-author and UFE Board member. "We give vaccines to the most vulnerable populations first. Economic policies should follow the same approach."

According to ranking CBC member Rep. Maxine Waters, "We can no longer be in denial that certain sectors of our population, including the African American community, are feeling the recession to a greater extent."

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