Minorities Are Depressed

Sep 29, 09 Minorities Are Depressed
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While the recession has harmed a considerable number of Americans, blacks are doing much worse than other groups of citizens.  What is thought to be a recession for most Americans is actually a depression for African-Americans.

The numbers are stark.  Blacks have much higher levels of unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy than whites do.  In an editorial written for the New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich and Dedrick Muhammad illustrate that before the subprime mortgage meltdown, blacks families lost between $71-$93 billion dollars.

There is solid evidence that the largest mortgage lenders, Countrywide and Wells Fargo, deliberately sought out minority buyers knowing that many would not qualify under the normal terms and further knowing how much their mortgages could increase.

Black unemployment stands at 15.1%.  Unfortunately, this rate continues to rise, and with it, a new wave of foreclosures.  With healthcare costs spiraling out of control, blacks are on track to lose many of the economic gains that they made during the 90s.

Besides slightly shoring up the social safety net in the form of the 2009 stimulus bill, little has been done to address the structural realities that are making it harder to sustain a middle class in America.  The pain that the recession has caused knows no racial boundaries; however, it is hard to deny that a disproportionate number of the victims are black and latino.

What can we do to alleviate this situation?  The platitudes are well worn but there is still a lag on implementation.  Better education and access to preventative and primary healthcare are two places where lawmakers and community activists can begin.

Yet, it is hard to begin fixing a problem if no one is willing to acknowledge that there is a problem.  While most Americans have been negatively impacted by the recession, there should be targeted solutions to address these large and systemic problems that have historically plagued black Americans.

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