Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Over the past 40 years, income inequality and housing segregation within the Black community has bee far more pronounced than in white America. A new study paints a picture of volatile Black neighborhoods pushed and pulled by income inequalities that have also wreaked vast changes on the larger American landscape, as “affluent people cluster in gentrified areas where lower income people cannot live, and poor people also become more concentrated.”

 

Massive Growth of Segregation by Income Among Blacks

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Housing segregation among Blacks and Hispanics has, in fact, increased much more sharply than among whites since 1970.”

new report on housing segregation shows that many more Americans live in distinctly poor or categorically affluent neighborhoods than forty years ago, while far less reside in middle income neighborhoods. Back in 1970, 65 percent of families lived in neighborhoods of middle-income earners. Today, that figure is down to just 44 percent. About a third of Americans now live in neighborhoods of either affluence or poverty, up from just 15 percent 40 years ago. The authors of the study, by the Russell Sage Foundation and Brown University, attribute much of the increase in housing segregation by income to growing inequalities in society. Affluent people cluster in gentrified areas where lower income people cannot live, and poor people also become more concentrated.

The New York Times did an article on the study, last week, under the byline of reporter Sabrina Tavernise. But the terms “Black” or “African American” did not appear even once in the nearly 1,000-word piece. Clearly, Ms. Tavernise and her editors are so uncomfortable with the subject of race as to be nearly useless to their readers, because it turns out that the study had a great deal to say about race and segregation of neighborhoods by income. Housing segregation among Blacks and Hispanics has, in fact, increased much more sharply than among whites since 1970. The authors say that’s largely because of growing income differences that have opened up between Blacks, with the growth of the African American middle class. But, like all things racial, the economics of the situation does not fully explain the phenomenon.

The biggest jump in Black income inequality occurred between 1970 and 1990.”

Until the 1970s, there was less income inequality among Blacks than among white families, but since then intra-Black inequality has grown four times as much. The biggest jump in Black income inequality occurred between 1970 and 1990. It was during this same period that discrimination against Blacks in housing declined, allowing those families that could afford to leave ghetto neighborhoods, to do so. What the study shows is a very volatile Black community, with neighborhoods undergoing much more economic change than their white counterparts.

In the 1990s, the trend towards greater income inequality among Blacks slowed. That’s probably because the 90s was the most generally prosperous decade for Blacks of all incomes, which tended to moderate the growth of high density poverty in lower-income Black neighborhoods.

Then, something strange happened. When the first decade of the 21st century came along, economic data showed little reason to expect increased income segregation among Blacks. Nevertheless, a rapid increase did occur, despite a bad economy for African Americans. The authors believe the increase was due to more lenient mortgage lending practices, the spread of sub-prime lending targeting Black and Latino neighborhoods. This, of course, was the bubble that is still bursting, which has led to the most catastrophic loss of Black wealth in history.

This story, of heightened African American mobility and volatile Black neighborhoods over the past 40 years, has no interest to the New York Times, even when they are handed a study that is chock-a-block with the facts.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, to to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20111123_gf_IncomeSegregation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54am EDT

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Remember 2004, when the cash-poor Democratic candidates were evicted from the campaign like vagabonds by ABC News? One measure of the impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that candidates will be compelled to explain to voters why they are so popular with Wall Street. This poses a special quandary for President Obama, who got the lion's share of finance industry dollars in 2008 and is determined to raise $1 billion for next year's campaign. “How can Obama claim to be ready to stand up to the 1 percent, when he's weighted down with a billion dollars of their money?”

 

Barack “Money Bags” Obama Can’t Run on the 99 Percent Ticket

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The trick that President Obama must pull off this election year is to raise a cool one billion dollars, while pretending to run as a man of the people – of the 99 percent.”

President Obama has been doing his charming best to play off the huge dilemma that the success of the Occupy Wall Street movement represents for his brand of corporate Democratic politics. Obama, the phony populist who is actually far better suited to corporate boardrooms, tried to mollify demonstrators at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, this week. Obama told a high school crowd: “In the Occupy movement there is a profound sense of frustration. The American dream – seems like that’s slipping away.” But, such presidential vagaries do not begin to describe the major thrust of the Occupation movement, whose overwhelming focus is “to get money out of politics,” as progressive reporter Arun Gupta recently told Black Agenda Radio. If there is anything that unites the supposedly leaderless Occupation movement, says Gupta, it is “a message about extreme concentration of wealth and power, and that wealth is used to dominate the political system.”

The trick that President Obama must pull off this election year is to raise a cool one billion dollars, while pretending to run as a man of the people – of the 99 percent. That kind of money can only come from the same Wall Street mafias that bankrolled Obama from the very start of his 2008 race for the White House. By any objective standard, the First Black President is really Mr. Moneybags, a corporate politician who has repaid Wall Street’s investment in him with $16 trillion of the people’s money. And, there is no doubt, Wall Street wants him back for a second term. To paraphrase Othello, Obama has done the plutocrats some service, and they know it. That’s why he is far ahead in the electoral race that really counts in America, the quest for campaign contributions, having already raised $155 million for himself and the Democratic Party – far ahead of any combination of Republicans.

The First Black President is really Mr. Moneybags, a corporate politician who has repaid Wall Street’s investment in him with $16 trillion of the people’s money.”

However, after two months of Occupy Wall Street fever, Obama’s intimate relationship with rich men’s wallets may prove prejudicial to his reelection prospects. How can Obama claim to be ready to stand up to the 1 percent, when he's weighted down with a billion dollars of their money?

The very idea that taking bundles of Wall Street checks hand over fist could be a negative for an American presidential campaigner, is testimony to the strength of the movement that has emerged over the past several months. I remember well how, back in the 2004 campaign, ABC's Ted Koppel decided it was his civic and journalistic duty to evict the three poorest candidates from the Democratic primary race. Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carolyn Moseley Braun, said Koppel, should get out of the running, to give more breathing space to the richer candidates. Koppel spoke to the non-corporate candidates like raggedy ass interlopers at a rich man's ball. “You don't have any money, at least not much,” Congressman Kucinich, said Kopple. “Rev. Sharpton has almost none.” And Ambassador Moseley Braun, “You don't have very much.” Then Koppel accused them of being “vanity candidates” who ought to drop out. Immediately afterwards, ABC News cut off coverage of their campaigns.

What a difference even a whiff of a social movement makes. Now, the corporate candidates will have to explain why they've got so much money, and what they promised to do to get it. Especially, the richest one of all, Barack Obama.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20111123_gf_MoneyPolitics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49am EDT