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First, the good news: The National Urban League’s annual State of Black America report says Black America is doing better than it was 40 years ago

Now the not-so-good news: We’re only doing slightly better.

 According to the report, detailed earlier last week by the Associated Press, fewer Blacks lived in poverty – 29 percent in 1976 versus 27 percent now. And the percentage of Blacks who graduated from high school and college went up 5 percentage points between 1976 and four decades later.

While we’re pleased we’re going in the right direction, it seems that we’re moving in the right direction at a very slow pace.

In fact, the report, titled “Locked Out: Education, Jobs, & Justice,” noted African Americans were doing the same or worse in homeownership – 43.7 percent in 1976 and 43 percent today.

“The frontier of the future is confronting these economic disparities,” said Urban League President Marc Morial.

He’s right. In America, we have elected Black mayors of major cities and a Black president. Some of us individually have excelled in sports and entertainment. But until we as a group get the financial bit together, we’ll be going nowhere fast.

Consider this: Black unemployment has consistently remained about twice that of whites over those 40 years, and the household income gap between Blacks and whites remains at about 60 cents for every dollar earned by whites.

Education, jobs and justice all speak to access and opportunity. These have systemically been denied to us. We could be more empowered if we denied our support to those who discriminate us in the areas of jobs, employment and a fair educational system.

We should also acknowledge the collective buying power that we do have.

A Nielsen survey, commissioned by the National Newspaper Publishers Association and presented at the National Association of Black Accountants conference in 2013, noted that the 43 million African Americans in the United States were an economic force to be reckoned with, estimating their projected buying power at $1.1 trillion by 2015.

Thus, we should use this financial muscle to support those people and institutions that support us.

Now is the time to turn our attention to achieving real economic power, so we’ll have something to show for our next 40 years.


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