Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Post-Racial America


By Sarah van Gelder

If anyone thought the inauguration of Barack Obama as president, heralded the end of racism in America, they should look no further than the tea party rallies held this weekend. The racial slogans and the mocking signs show how far we still have to go. Perhaps even more troubling are the economic indicators that show how far the recession is setting back the fragile fortunes of people of color.

On the other hand, extraordinary possibilities open up for us as a nation if we succeed in coming together to embrace the strengths of the country's growing diversity,

First, the bad news. Before the Great Recession hit, the average family of color had a net worth of less than $30,000; the average white family’s net worth was $170,000. With the economic downturn, things got worse for almost everyone, but especially for people of color. White unemployment rose to 9 percent, but unemployment among blacks is at a whopping 16 percent, and among Latinos it's nearly 13 percent. The economic crisis hits blacks and Latinos in other ways, too. They were far more likely to be saddled with high-rate, subprime loans than their white counterparts with similar qualifications, and they are more likely to be facing the loss of their main asset—their home.