Friday, August 30, 2013

Black, White? Socialists Are Colour Blind

In 2011, the median income of Black households was about $32,000; that is, half of Black households had income above this figure, and half had incomes below this figure. This was 61.7% of the 2011 median income of White households. In 1970, before the general increase of income inequality, the figure was 60.9%, just a smidgen lower. Not much change. Also, there has been virtually no change if mean incomes are used for the Black-White comparison. (The “mean” is the average—the total income all households in the group divided by the number of households.)

This lack of change over the last 40 years might come as a surprise, contrary to visible indicators of improvement in the position of Black people. We see, for example, many Black professionals in fields where 40 years ago there were few. There are also more Black executives—even a few CEOs of major corporations. And there is Barack Obama. How do these visible changes square with the lack of change in the relative income positions of Blacks and Whites?
The answer to this question is largely that the distribution of income among Black households is very unequal, even more unequal than the distribution of income among White households. So many of the prominent Black people who appear to be doing so well are indeed doing well. At the other end are the Black households that are doing worse. Between 1970 and 2011, the upper 5% of Black households saw their average (mean) incomes rise from about $114,000 to about $215,000 (measured in 2011 dollars), while the incomes of Black households in the bottom 20% saw their average income fall from $6,465 to $6,379.

Among White households, the pattern of change was similar but not quite so extreme. The average income of the top 5% of White households rose by 83% in this period, as compared to the 88% increase for the top Black households—though that elite White group was still taking in 50% per household more than their Black counterparts. The bottom 20% of White households saw a 13% increase per household in their inflation-adjusted incomes between 1970 and 2011.

Income distribution is only one measure of economic inequality, however. The Great Recession had a devastating impact on the wealth of Black households, largely explained by the impact of the housing crisis. In 2004, the net worth of White households was about eleven times that of Black households (bad enough), about the same as it had been since the early 1980s (with a slight improvement in the mid-1990s). But by 2009, though both Black and White net worth fell from 2004, White net worth was 19 times Black net worth.

taken from here

Male, female; native-born, immigrant; black, white, yellow, brown; - just some of the categories used to divide us, to keep us divided. When the majority of us begin to realise that this is one of capitalism's ways of controlling us, of keeping us from thinking of more important things, we can then move forward together to an equitable multi-coloured, multi-cultural, multi-faceted socialist world.

No comments: