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Black households earned 61 cents for every dollar of White median incomes

Police violence linked to segregated housing

Charlene Crowell op-ed | 9/24/2020, midnight

The Aug. 23 police shooting of an unarmed Black man in Kenosha, Wis, triggered yet another round of community protests and national news coverage of a Black man. A series of multiple gunshots fired by a local police officer, were not fatal for 29-year old Jacob Blake; but may have permanently paralyzed him from the waist down. 

Days later on Aug. 28, the National Action Network served as a major organizer for a Commitment March, rededicating the yet unaddressed dreams of the historic 1963 March on Washington. Assembled again at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial, the day’s speakers spanned nationally-known leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and Attorney Ben Crump to the family members of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and others. 

The irony is that despite the passage of nearly 60 years between the original march and its 2020 recommitment, many of the issues that have plagued Black America remain the same. Black America and other people of color still cry for justice, equality, and freedom. Yet noticeably, what formerly focused national attention on events in Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham have now emanated from Ferguson, to Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland and other locales. 

Why measurable forward strides in policing, or economic progress have remained elusive after decades of calls for reforms may partly be explained by the findings of a new policy analysis by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis. Using U.S. Census Bureau data, Ana Hernandez Kent, a policy analyst with the St. Louis Fed, found that America’s racial poverty gap continues to suppress social and economic justice. Moreover, Wisconsin, not a southern state, claims has the largest poverty gap in the nation.   

Nationally the St. Louis Fed found that 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 percent of all Black Americans living in poverty, a gap of 13 percent compared to Whites who are poor. Wisconsin’s gap is 23 percent. 

“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 percent of Black mortgage applicants were rejected because of their debt to income ratio, compared to only 5 percent of Whites; and 

• 51 percent of Blacks are first-time homeowners, compared to only 30 percent of Whites. 

Moreover, since the Great Recession that heavily hit Black homeowners a decade ago, today’s Black homeownership rate has yet to return to pre-recession levels.   

In sum, it seems that in 2020, historic ills remain virtually unchanged. A key component of what continues is police violence against Black America.

“Our vote is dipped in blood,” said Rev. Sharpton in August. “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.

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