Systemic Racism as Economic Depression

The Center for Social Inclusion has a useful new report–Race, the Job Market, and Economic Recovery: A Census Snapshot. This should be useful for classes and other teaching purposes. It summarizes data on some impacts of the current economic depresssion (which is what it is for many groups) on
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kieran Bennett

white, black, and Latino Americans.

As they point out in their summary press release from the report, recent Census data show that

rising poverty and unemployment, and decreasing access to healthcare are undermining recovery in communities of color, slowing the engine of America’s struggling economy.

• Unemployment is 26.5% for young Black men, 14.2% for Young Latino men, and 11.7% for young White men. • Wages dropped 5.6% for Latinos, 4.4% for Asians, 2.8% for Blacks, and 2.6% for Whites.

• Poverty has reached 24.6% among African Americans compared to 23.2% for Latinos, 11.6% for Asians, and 11.0% for Whites.

. . . Greater than 1 in 10 white men aged 20-29 are now unemployed, up from approximately 1 in 20 when the recession began November of 2007. Those are sobering numbers. Graver still, a devastating 1 in 4 Black men and 1 in 6 Latino men, aged 20-29, have become unemployed.

Especially in hard economic times, racial inequality is quite obvious, as these Americans of color pay a very heavy price for the poor corporate and other political-economic decisions of the mostly white and male capitalistic elites and their political allies. The report points out that losing jobs also means losing health insurance for many workers. So,

• The percent of uninsured is 30.7% among Latinos, 18.9% among African Americans, 17.1% among Asians, and 10.8% among Whites.

In addition to showing once again that this is far from an egalitarian country, these data help explain why the demonstrators in Washington, DC, yesterday (Sept. 12), estimated around 50,000, against President Obama and his health care plan were almost all white. Whites as a group simply are not hurting nearly as much as black and Latino Americans, and many other Americans of color, are when it comes to jobs and health care.

The report calls on government to make federal and state “stimulus” efforts extend realistically to all communities of color, which they currently do only in a very limited fashion. It also calls for a much “better job” of government reporting on just how the stimulus money is being spent, and for whom.

“It’s time to act. Economic recovery will exist in name only for too many of our neighbors if we don’t put in place the policies that are needed to reach everyone,” said Maya Wiley, executive director of the Center for Social Inclusion. “The newly poor are disproportionately women, children, Black, Latino and Asian. We can not let a massive recovery effort bypass the hardest hit.”