Black Economic Sentiment

Black America has always been more negatively affected by recessions and market downturns than any other group. Blacks with trades and/or college degrees are less secure than their white counterparts. Our financial situations are often more depressing as well — driven by the time value of money, which is indicative of the fact that we have not had access to the markets, investments, housing, and other economic opportunities that allow for substantial returns on our capital; there’s a reason that some people’s parents can help with their down payment on their first home – they’ve had savings in their families for generations, most of which was made on the backs (literally) of Black America.

In November 2015, the CNN and Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll. They found that Black and Hispanic Americans are more optimistic (+20% more than whites) about their futures when compared to that of their parents. While it is inspiring that Blacks are hopeful in some ways, it is depressing in other ways:

  • The Black median household income is ~60% of the white median household income; for every $1 a white person takes home, a Black person takes home 60 cents.
  • The Black median household wealth is 8% (which was closer to 10% in 2005) of the white median household wealth; if a white person has $10,000 in wealth, then a Black person has $800 in wealth
  • Black homeownership is ~60% of white homeownership; for every 10 white homeowners, there are 6 Black homeowners
  • Black unemployment is more than double that of white unemployment; we don’t getting hired for jobs, like white people do

We should all be questioning the statistical methods used in this poll and determining if comparing our economic outlook to our parents’ makes sense. For the methods, who did this poll and exactly what questions were asked? As for the generational comparison, my mom grew up at the end of Jim Crow in Little Rock, Arkansas. I damn sure hope that my economic outlook is better than hers, but is that enough to say that I’m optimistic? We deserve more than hopefulness.

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