The National Urban League, the country’s oldest community-based organization dedicated to the empowerment of African-Americans, recently issued their The State of Black America 2009 report which shows that, while many people are having troubles surviving our current economy, Blacks are affected at a disproportionate rate. Find out where we fall short and what the Urban League wants President Obama to do about it.
Homeownership is one of the best ways to build wealth, but many African-Americans aren’t properly prepared for the leap into buying their first home. Low-income minorities have said to be the cause for the mortgage crisis since they’ve fallen prey to so many subprime loans, but the numbers prove otherwise. According to the Urban League, low-income borrowers had the lowest share of subprime loans while most of these loans actually originated in White neighborhoods.
The State of Black America 2009 report takes a look at the last five years and compares the conditions of African-Americans to those of Whites in several categories including economics, education and health. Between 2003-2007, the poverty rate and homeownership declined for Blacks but increased for Whites. The Urban League suggests that an increase in homeownership education would help to promote responsible borrowing while decreasing the chance for foreclosures.
The Black community is plagued by a growing high school dropout problem. Dropouts from the class of 2008 alone will cost the United States almost $319 billion in lost wages, according to The State of Black America 2009 report. One suggestion is to start with better educational facilities and better educational instruction on par with what White students so often receive.
According to The State of Black American 2009 report, this country now faces the first generation of African-Americans who will earn less than their parents and are less likely to go to college. This doesn’t bode well for us as a country as we continue to attempt to remain competitive in a global economy.
Martin Luther King, III, wrote the forward to The State of Black America 2009 report. He stresses that just because President Obama is in office, doesn’t mean his father’s dream has been realized.
“His election is not the fulfillment of the Dream,” he writes. “This is because President Obama is not the only character in this narrative, nor is he the story’s only writer.”
No surprise here—the unemployment rate for African-American men has significantly increased over the last two years. In the State of Black American 2009 Report, economist Dr. William Rodgers III explains how providing Black men with jobs during the current recession is actually beneficial to the U.S economy overall. Not only will it reduce the poverty rate but get more people to transition out from unemployment insurance and welfare benefits.
Going green has the potential of not only saving our decaying urban communities but offering a variety employment opportunities for African-Americans in what is being labeled “green” collar jobs. These include modernizing the country’s electrical grid, which could create tons of new jobs for years to come.
The State of Black America 2009 report makes an interesting connection between how living in poor, urban neighborhoods can adversely affect the health of its residents, including mortality, birth outcomes, mental heath, crime, and chronic illnesses. In fact, a Black woman’s average life expectancy is almost five years less than a White woman, according to the 2007 National Center for Health Statistics. Improving and rebuilding our community’s infrastructure is one way to help the case.
We know that African-Americans have a lack of affordable health care, but how can we start to solve the discrepancies? The Urban League suggests a comprehensive and universal health insurance system for all Americans would make the most impact. Not to mention implementing a national health education program that focuses on prevention and intervention initiatives specifically for African-Americans.
Asthma is one of the most serious chronic illnesses facing Black children today. It can be brought on and manifested by exposure to mold, dust, pollutants, and pest infestations—all commonly found in low-income households. Children in urban areas also have to consider lead poisoning, poor cardiovascular health and obesity. If our urban communities don’t change, what will the future be like for our kids?
The State of Black America 2009 report is a message directly to President Obama. National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial’s opening letter reminds us that all is not well with the Black community. He points out that even though we have a Black President in office, fewer than 50 percent of Blacks nationwide graduate from high school and yet we’re overcrowding prisons. His message to the President is we must continue to work towards achieving equality and civil rights. The fight is far from over.
Families across the country continue to struggle to make ends meet, but we can see that there is a particular pressure on African-Americans households. The median household income for African-Americans declined while the rate of poverty increased during 2001-2007.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee writes a chapter in The State of Black America 2009 Report about the moral gaps in the Black community, including providing more resources and attention to the younger generation through job training and early childhood education.
The State of Black America 2009 report offers President Obama recommendations on how we can all improve the lives of African-Americans. What would you suggest the President and Congress do to help our urban communities?Let us know your thoughts below.