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 People without cars are disproportionately people of color.  These include counties in Houston,

Providence, New Orleans, Tampa, New York City and Miami.  In Orleans Parish New Orleans,

for example, over 35 percent of African-Americans, 26 percent of Native Americans, and

27 percent of Latinos don¹t own a car, compared to 15 percent of whites.



People of Color Less Likely to Own Cars

 Less Able to Escape Hurricanes & Poverty

There are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

                                                                                                     Dr. Martin Luther King, 1963


A new report considers one factor in the shocking racial disparities revealed by Hurricane Katrina: car ownership.

The report (online at, embargoed until January 10) finds that people of color are considerably more likely to be left behind in a natural disaster, since fewer of them own cars compared to whites.  In addition, lower rates of car ownership put them at an economic disadvantage. 

The report finds that:

Only 7% of white households, but 24% of black households and 17% of Latino (Hispanic) households owned no vehicle in 2000.

In all 11 major cities that have had five or more hurricanes in the last 100 years (Houston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tampa, New York City, Providence, Boston, and New Orleans), people without cars are disproportionately people of color.

In the case of a mandatory evacuation order during a disaster, 33% of Latinos, 27% of African Americans, and 23% of whites say that lack of transportation would be an obstacle preventing them from evacuating, according to the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Evacuation planning tends to focus on traffic management for those with cars and on institutionalized people, not on non-institutionalized people without vehicles. New Orleans had only one-quarter the number of buses that would have been needed to evacuate all carless residents.

In the counties affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, only 7% of white households have no car, compared with 24% of black, 12% of Native American and 14% of Latino households.

The stereotype that black people own expensive cars is inaccurate.  In fact, their median car value is half (or less) of whites, according to the Federal Reserve.

Eleven percent of African-American families and 21 percent of Latino families have missed out on medical care because of transportation issues, compared to only 2 percent of white families, according to the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

The median net worth of white families increased about 6% after inflation from 2001 to 2004, to $136,000, while the black median stayed unchanged at $20,000, according to the Federal Reserve.

Transportation is the second biggest expense for American households, after housing, according to the Surface Transportation Policy Project.

Overall, there is a correlation between vehicle ownership and economic prosperity. Cars give access to wider choices of jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities and healthcare. Many small businesses require a vehicle, such as gardening and catering.

The report concludes that car ownership is a vital part of the American Dream. However, the solution is not simply to provide all residents with their own cars.  The report suggests improvements in public transportation and disaster planning, as well as narrowing the racial wealth divide to enable more car purchases.

One of the report¹s co-authors, Emma Dixon, went without electricity in her Louisiana home for a week after Hurricane Katrina. The others, Meizhu Lui and Betsy Leondar-Wright, are also co-authors of the forthcoming book The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the US Racial Wealth Divide (New Press, 2006). All work for United for a Fair Economy.

"Stalling the Dream" is the third annual Martin Luther King Day report from United for a Fair Economy, following State of the Dream 2004 and 2005.

United for a Fair Economy is a national non-partisan, non-profit organization that raises awareness of the dangers of growing economic inequality.

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Stalling the Dream

By Meizhu Lui

Fifty years ago, the late Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, catalyzing history-making events.

Imagine, however, if Rosa Parks had lived in New Orleans in September 2005 and was trying to escape from the gathering clouds of Hurricane Katrina. Would she have jumped in her car?  Would she have bought a train ticket?  It is likely she wouldn¹t have found any bus seat. Would she have survived?

In light of Hurricane Katrina, millions of Americans were forced to make such nerve-racking calculations.  And their transportation options, unfortunately, depended on race. Those with cars largely escaped.  But African-American and Latino households are much less likely than white families to own a car, leaving us with those indelible images of people of color crying out from the rooftops.

A great deal of attention in the last two decades has been focused on the ³digital divide,² the concern that unequal access to new forms of technology such as the internet are leaving people behind based on their class and race.   But Hurricane Katrina exposed the "internal combustion engine" divide, the alarming disparity in car ownership that literally was the difference between life and death for many Gulf Coast residents.

A new report on racial disparities in car ownership reveals that one in four Black households (24 percent) and one in six Latino households (17 percent) does not own a car.  This is compared to one in fourteen white households (7 percent) who are car-less. In the eleven coastal counties with the highest incidence and future risk of hurricanes, people without cars are disproportionately people of color.  These include counties in Houston, Providence, New Orleans, Tampa, New York City and Miami.  In Orleans Parish New Orleans, for example, over 35 percent of African-Americans, 26 percent of Native Americans, and 27 percent of Latinos don¹t own a car, compared to 15 percent of whites.

Emergency planning for Katrina and other preparedness efforts is heavily focused on traffic management for those who have cars.  There are also some publicly funded emergency evacuation plans for people in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes and mental health facilities.  But there is inadequate planning for those who simply don¹t own cars.  New Orleans had only one-quarter of the number of buses required to evacuate all its car-less residents.

Beyond being able to save one's life, owning a car is often a stepping-stone toward job security and prosperity.  Unfortunately, the invisible ³engine² divide also influences a person¹s ability to find and retain a decent job. Without a car, many jobs are unreachable, and many small business ideas are unachievable. A growing number of jobs are located outside of urban centers on freeway beltways and in suburban communities, areas with weak or nonexistent public transportation.

The challenge for many people of color is not only owning a car, but having a dependable car. A twenty-year old car used for short city trips is not a dependable vehicle for a hundred-mile journey to higher ground ­ or a 30 minute daily commute to a job in the suburbs. People of color tend to own cheaper and less dependable cars.  Contrary to the stereotype of the Cadillac owning African American, at no time since 1992 has the median car value for people of color been even half as high as the value of cars owned by white families.

Access to a vehicle is also essential for meeting the basic necessities of life, such as obtaining medical care or buying groceries, especially in rural areas.  A recent national study by the Children¹s Health Fund found that lack of transportation was a leading factor in children missing doctor¹s appointments.  Eleven percent of African-American families and 21 percent of Latino families missed out on medical care because of transportation issues, compared to only 2 percent of white families.

Dependence on car ownership takes a big bite out of a family budget. Americans now spend 38 percent more on transportation than Europeans.  For example, Detroit spends twice as much as Toronto on its roads ­ and Toronto spent eight times more than Detroit on public transit.  As a result, Detroit ³motor city² residents spent more than twice as much as their Toronto counterparts on transportation, including the cost of car ownership and insurance, repairs and gas.

The "engine" divide is rooted in two larger problems: the bias toward the private automobile in transportation planning and our nation's larger racial wealth gap.  Over the last century, urban planning and suburban sprawl have "hard-wired" our dependence on automobiles.  Federal and state governments have consistently shifted resources away from public transportation and toward highway construction.  Only 20 percent of gas tax revenue goes toward public transport while 80 percent goes to building and maintaining highways. Public transportation policies in many cities have failed to catch-up with the changing demographics of where jobs are located, increasing the advantages of car ownership.

But the “engine” divide is part of the larger racial wealth divide.  Between 2001 and 2004, the median net worth of white families increased about 6 percent after inflation to $136,000, while the black median wealth remained unchanged at $20,000, according to the Federal Reserve.  This racial wealth gap is the legacy of several centuries of public policies and private corporate practices that have encouraged white wealth ownership and disadvantaged wealth-building by people of color.

In our zeal to promote an “ownership society” with broadened wealth and assets for low-income people, policy-makers have neglected the transportation piece of the puzzle.  We need to recognize how access to dependable transportation is a fundamental step on the road to wealth-building.  Owning a home in a new affordable suburban community that has inadequate public transportation further isolates families that don¹t own private cars.

For ecological and quality-of-life reasons, the answer is not necessarily to expand private automobile ownership.  The cost of private car ownership is prohibitive for many low-income families.  A growing number of communities already suffer from massive traffic congestion and many car users suffer from longer and longer daily commutes. More cars won¹t solve these problems.

Instead, communities need to focus on dependable public transportation systems and job creation closer to transportation hubs.  A number of cities are encouraging business and job development closer to subway lines and rapid bus routes.  For example, the District of Columbia has encouraged economic development on leased land near Metro stations that includes mixed-use retail and light industrial plants.  This opens up jobs to car-less workers who have the option to walk, bike, bus or train to jobs, reducing traffic congestion and improving the overall quality of life.

People of color bear an unfair share of the risks resulting from public policies that are biased toward car ownership.  Given the present bias in our emergency planning, car ownership is a matter of life and death.  But not owning a car also stalls out many people of color on the road to prosperity, closing the highway to jobs that require private transportation.

These problems are solvable, but we must first see the invisible divides that exist around us.  Hurricane Katrina not only dramatically revealed the grotesque racial and class divisions in our country, but also pointed to some obvious causes, such as our car dependent economy.  An inclusive and dependable public transportation system should be at the top of the list.

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Meizhu Lui is the Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy and the co-author of the new report, "Stalling the Dream: Cars, Race and Hurricane Evacuation," available at

posted 10 January 2006

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The State of African Education (April 200)

Attack On Africans Writing Their Own History Part 1 of 7

Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on Africans writing and accounting for their own history.

Dr Hilliard is A teacher, psychologist, and historian.

Part 2 of 7  /  Part 3 of 7  / Part 4 of 7  / Part 5 of 7 / Part 6 of 7  /  Part 7 of 7

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 26 March 2012




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Related files: The Conspiracy to Whiten New Orleans   The Impact of Katrina Race and Class    Plan Designed to Take Treme