Coming up short – again


‘State of Black America’ issued this week


Amidst continued struggles to maintain voting rights, protests to end shootings of unarmed Black males by police and a constant press to lower the jobless rate for African-Americans, a new report this week announces that Black America is still not receiving nearly half of its economic fair share.

Cleveland, Ohio residents put their best feet forward at a 2014 jobs fair.(FLORIDA COURIER FILES)
Cleveland, Ohio residents put their best feet forward at a 2014 jobs fair. (FLORIDA COURIER FILES)

“The State of Black America,” issued annually by the National Urban League, unveils statistical indexes comparing the African-American and Latino communities to the White community.

Annual evaluation
For the last 39 years, the National Urban League has issued a such reports. Every report finds a different way to tell the same story: that the quality of life of Blacks, and now Latinos, is consistently lower than that of White Americans, particularly with regard to economics, income, jobs, and wealth.

The 2014 report, “One Nation Underemployed: Jobs Rebuild America,” noted that both unemployment and underemployment were multiple times higher for both Blacks and Hispanics.

“Underemployment” is defined as those who are jobless or working part-time jobs but who want to work full-time.

The 2015 report – scheduled to be released after the Florida Courier’s press time late Wednesday night – is focused on economic equity.

Unfair share
In the category of economics, the Black community only gets between 54.4 percent and 55.8 percent of what Whites get, the report states. Latinos receive 61.7 percent of the economic pie – approximately 5.9 percent more than Blacks.

“Imagine if we were to summarize how well African-Americans and Latinos are doing, compared to Whites, in the areas of economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement, and represent that by a pie,” explains the executive summary of the report, officially released during a press conference led by NUL President/CEO Marc Morial on March 19.

“The Equality Index measures the share of the pie that African-Americans and Latinos get. Whites are used as the benchmark because the history of race in America has created advantages for Whites that persist in many of the outcomes being measured.”

Missing ‘pie’
When combining economics, health, education, social justice, and civic engagement, the overall equality index for Blacks comes to 72.2 percent.

“That means that rather than having a whole pie (100 percent), which would mean full equality with Whites, African-Americans are missing about 28 percent of the pie,” the report explains. The overall equality index for Latino-Americans is at 77.7 percent; which means Hispanics are missing 22.3 percent. This means overall, the overall equality index for Latino-Americans is 5.5 percent higher than African-Americans.

The following are other indexes in the report summary:
• Health–79.8 percent for African-Americans and 106.9 percent for Hispanics.
• Education – 76.1 percent for African-Americans and 74.6 percent for Hispanics.
• Social Justice – 60.6 percent for African-Americans and 72.7 percent for Hispanics.
• Civic Engagement – 104 percent for African-Americans and 71 percent for Hispanics.

Includes essays
The report, which comes in the wake of recent social unrest in Black America, also features essays by Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, unarmed teens killed by gunfire; Alfred Liggins, president/CEO of Radio One, a publicly traded media company; Sacramento, Calif. Mayor Kevin Johnson, president of the U. S. Conference of Mayors; and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Among excerpts from their essays, Crump says of the killings of unarmed Black males, “The symbiotic relationship between the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement, as well as the unbridled autonomy of the prosecuting pttorney in the secrecy of a grand jury proceeding, often bar access to justice for people of color in these cases. We cannot afford to continue to trust their discretion.”

Liggins, the son of media mogul Radio and TV One founder Cathy Hughes, predicts that business ownership will ultimately pull African-Americans out of the economic slump.

“I believe that business ownership is a must to truly dictate the long-term success and trajectory of one’s life, family and generations to come,” Liggins writes. “In fact, it is African-American business ownership that will save our communities by stimulating the economy, generating jobs and decreasing crime. In short, the true color of freedom is green.”

Still pervasive
The report also focuses at length on educational gaps and school system successes and failures.

Overall, it concludes that while many of NUL’s findings are positive, the overwhelming reality is that racial inequality is still pervasive nationwide.

“President Obama opened his January 2015 State of the Union address touting a lower unemployment rate than before the financial crisis, more children graduating than ever before and more people insured than ever before,” the report states.

“While each of these milestones is reflected in the 2015 National Urban League Equality Index, it also tells a less popular, though all too familiar, story of persistent racial disparities in American life.”

The full articles and report can be found in the 2015 State of Black America e-book or at



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