Thursday, January 15, 2009

For blacks, depression is already here

For most white people, it’s a recession, but for blacks, it’s already a depression. That’s a conclusion of a new report, “State of the Dream 2009: a Silent Depression,” released on Martin Luther King’s Day, January 15, by a Boston think tank, United for a Fair Economy (UFE).

“People of color have been experiencing a recession for five years,” says Amaad Rivera, UFE’s racial wealth specialist and one of the authors of the 70-page report. “By definition, a long-term recession is a depression.”

Why has this “silent depression” gotten relatively little attention? In large part, according to UFE, because the economic indicators we rely on are not sophisticated enough to mark the racial divide.

The facts, though, are there deep and not so deep in government documents, and the UFE report digs out many of them, as in a UFE chart showing a poverty rate in 2007 of 8.2% among whites and 24.5% among blacks.

Economic inequality and structural racism “were created, so they can also be eliminated,” the UFE report insists, by adopting reforms small and large, immediate and long range. A significant example: taxing work and wealth at the same rate would generate $95,000,000,000 a year in revenue.

“The current economic crisis requires more than a color blind stimulus,” says Dedrick Muhammad, UFE research associate and a co-author of the report. “It requires a complete economic restructuring that addresses the racial wealth divide.”

For more details, check the Website of United for a Fair Economy.

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