Monday, July 20, 2015

On Being Black in America

There was a panel discussion at the recent Harlem Book Fair on “Wealth and Finance in Post-Civil Rights America”. I think one of the key points made by a panel member is that black people in the USA have significantly less wealth at all income levels than do whites at the same income levels. So why don't blacks save more?

  • The have more expenses related to police and court action. (Ferguson reminds us that many jurisdictions make money from tickets and charging for court and jail costs; blacks are much more likely to face such costs.
  • Blacks pay more in interest charges.
  • Blacks do more physical labor, that breaks down the body -- which contributes to health problems and shorter life expectancy.
  • Blacks get targeted more often by for-profit educational programs; they too often take out loans to pay for schooling that does not pay off in future earnings so they keep paying interest on loans that they can not pay off.
  • Blacks live in neighborhoods where shopping is harder and more expensive.
A legacy of past racism and impact of current racism in America is that we don't think of these things, and that they are embedded in our institutions and policies.

FYI: Panelists were": 
  • Dalton Conley, the author of Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America
  • William Tabb, the author of The Restructuring of Capitalism in Our Time, and 
  • Vesla Weaver, the author of Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control
The panel was moderated by Damon Phillips, professor of business strategy at Columbia University.

No comments: