The following article from the Washington Post (3/23/09) by Meizhu Lui describes the TEN-FOLD difference between white wealth and black wealth in the United States. Mind you, the disparity has WORSENED since 2004 and, if this trend is not checked, can only portend disaster for our country and world.
This ominous statistic should even test the sincerity of Attorney General Eric Holder’s harshest critics who so strongly resented his description of us as a "…nation of cowards…" when it comes to the discussion of race.
The Wealth Gap Gets Wider
By Meizhu Lui
Monday, March 23, 2009; A15
The chips are in.
Every three years, the Federal Reserve, in its Survey of Consumer Finances, takes a look at how U.S. households are doing and reports on our assets and liabilities. The euphoria of our gambling spree is over. In the harsh glare of morning, the hangover is tough. And the latest data are from 2007, so they don’t even capture the worst of the decline.
The net worth of the average American family is less than it was in 2001. We borrowed more for that trip to Vegas than we brought home. Everyone knows this now.
But here’s something being talked about much less: The gap between the wealth of white Americans and African Americans has grown. According to the Fed, for every dollar of wealth held by the typical white family, the African American family has only one dime. In 2004, it had 12 cents.
This is not just a gap. It’s a deepening canyon.
The overhyped political term "post-racial society" becomes patently absurd when looking at these economic numbers. This week, experts on asset building in communities of color are meeting with members of Congress to talk about closing the wealth gap. While the government is rescuing failing financial institutions as a short-term measure, those at the two-day Color of Wealth Policy Summit will make the case that the nation’s long-term economic future depends on the inclusion of all Americans in opportunities to build wealth.
Why such a big gap? The biggest predictor of the future economic status of a child is the net worth of the child’s parents. Even modest inheritances or gifts within a parent’s lifetime — such as paying for college or providing the down payment on a home — can give a child a lift up the economic ladder. And historically, white families have enjoyed more government support and tax-paid subsidies for their asset-building activities.
Complete article here.
Orson Wells’ rich, brilliant & ultimately doomed character Charles Foster Kane died, alone and unloved, in his California mansion. At the time of his passing he was a deformed, corrupt and far removed from the genius displayed in creating his mass media empire. In the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s I couldn’t help but think of ‘Kane..’ Michael’s Zanadu had been stripped from him a few years back, leaving him wandering from rental to rental home, such as the one he died in in Los Angeles yesterday.
Michael was prepping to try to recapture his once elevated status with 50 sold out shows at London’s massive O2 arena. But that was not to be. In fact I believe that the stress of preparing for that show, after his long performing layoff, played a role in his demise. With the music, videos and event tour that supported ‘Thriller’ Michael re-invented the art of the blockbuster album, creating an international stardom that endures. And, sadly, for the last twenty five years of his life Michael was in a losing battle with himself, trying to match that magical year even as the culture changed, the record industry imploded, and his personal demons ruined his reputation.
At several points in his life Michael revolutionized pop culture. He lead the first black teen group to cross racial lines. With Quincy Jones, he produced a trio of albums (Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad) that reinvented the rules for black artists musically and in terms of international appeal. The videos, grandiose, elaborate and full of wonderful dancing are still the gold standard for the merging of music & image. Along with Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, and so many other media legends, Michael made the ’80s a golden age for black pop culture.
I, like so many of you, grew up with Michael Jackson. With my mother, sister and family friends I attended the Jackson Five’s first Madison Square Garden show. Over the years I attended eight Jacksons/Michael Jackson shows and spend countless hours over the last forty years thinking about and, often writing about that man. In fact a book I did about him, The Michael Jackson Story, in 1984 jump started my career. It was first book and first exposure to the media machine that both celebrated, reported about and, ultimately, ripped him apart.
Its hilarious how one sided much of the immediate commentary about the man has been. Sinner or saint? More apt is artist and sinner. People want to simplify a truly complex life. We have to be sophisticated enough to acknowledge that greatness and a touch of evil dwelled in the man. I’ve always believed that transcendent art emanates from the purest, most evolved parts of our soul. But that highly spiritual achievement doesn’t absolve us of our daily misdeeds. To simply brand him a smooth criminal, as some have, or to overlook his tragic nature, as have others, is to deny his humanity. The meaning of Michael Jackson’s life — as a black man, a sexual being, a abused and abusing adult — will be interpreted to fit the prejudices of the speaker. His music — it speaks volumes.