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 At the slow rate that the Black-white poverty gap has been narrowing since 1968,

it would take 150 years, until 2152, to close.



The State of the Dream

Black-White Gaps Still Wid

Some Even Widening -- Since Dr. King's Death

Press Release from United for a Fair Economy


“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.” --  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Racial inequities in unemployment, family income, imprisonment, average wealth, and infant mortality are actually worse than when Dr. King was killed, according to United for a Fair Economy’s new report, "The State of the Dream: Enduring Disparities in Black and White," by Dedrick Muhammad, Attieno Davis, Meizhu Lui and Betsy Leondar-Wright. The report contrasts the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the reality of the continued racial divide.

Progress has been made in narrowing the divide in per capita income, poverty, homeownership, education, life expectancy and median wealth, but so slowly that the gaps would take decades or even centuries to close at the current rate.

“As Americans celebrate the King Holiday and listen to President Bush’s State of the Union address, we must hold in mind the failure of the most powerful nation in the world to create opportunity for all its people,” said Dedrick Muhammad. “No longer do we hear about a War on Poverty or a Great Society. It has been replaced by compassionate conservatism, which has been very conservative in its compassion.”

The typical Black family had 60% as much income as a white family in 1968, but only 58% as much in 2002.

One in nine African Americans cannot find a job. Black unemployment is more than twice the white rate – a wider gap than in 1972.

Black infants are almost two-and-a-half-times as likely as white infants to die before age one – a greater gap than in 1970.

White households had an average net worth of $468,200 in 2001, more than six times the $75,700 of Black households. In 1989 (the oldest comparable data available), average white wealth was five-and-a-half times Black wealth.

“The phrase ‘snail’s pace’ doesn’t describe the slow progress in some black-white gaps, because snails travel faster than that,” said Meizhu Lui.

At the slow rate that the Black-white poverty gap has been narrowing since 1968, it would take 150 years, until 2152, to close.

For every dollar of white per-capita income, African Americans had 55 cents in 1968 – and only 57 cents in 2001. At this pace, it would take Blacks 581 years to get the remaining 43 cents.

“African Americans have endured unbearable disparities for too long,” said Attieno Davis. “581 years is too long to wait for our missing 43 cents on the dollar.”

While white homeownership has jumped from 65% to 75% since 1970, Black homeownership has only risen from 42% to 48%. At this rate, it would take 1,664 years to close the homeownership gap – about 55 generations.

If current rates of incarceration continue, one out of three African American males born today will be imprisoned at some point during their lifetimes.

At the current pace, Blacks and whites will reach high school graduation parity in 2013, six decades after the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision. And college graduation parity wouldn’t be reached until 2075, more than 200 years after the end of slavery.

“Dr. King worked to instill in us all a sense of moral urgency about the racial disparities in the United States,” said Betsy Leondar-Wright. “We can honor his memory by shaking off our complacency and committing ourselves to racial justice.”

Dedrick Muhammad is the Racial Wealth Divide Coordinator at United for a Fair Economy. Attieno Davis coordinates UFE’s Racial Wealth Divide education work. Meizhu Lui is UFE’s Executive Director, and Betsy Leondar-Wright is UFE’s Communications Director. United for a Fair Economy is an independent national non-profit that raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. Contact:   Betsy Leondar-Wright, (617) 423-2148 x13 / posted 2004

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

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

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

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#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

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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 24 February 2012




Home   Religion & Politics   The Du Bois-Malcolm-King

Related files:  State of the Dream  White Privilege Shapes the U.S.   State Of Black America   state of black nation 2005   The State of the Dream 2005    Myths of Low-Wage Workers      Skip Gates and the Talented Fifth 

 Responses to Skip Gates  The State of HBCUs   The State of Black Journalism   Press Release from United for a Fair Economy