Saturday, November 8, 2008

The American Dream: out of reach

Even before we had a clue about the economic downturn, things weren't getting better for many Americans. The following report is about how minorities are fairing. But I think there are lots of non-minorities who have found themselves stuck too.

For some Americans, if you go to the right high school and college, if you stay out of trouble and fall into the right career, maybe you will find the dream... But many or most public school systems don't prepare their students that well.

Even if you make a bit of money, its difficult. We are all pressured by the market to buy buy buy... the new car (or new looking over priced car at Carmax), the big cell phone contract, digital cable with HBO and ESPN, the unlimited credit card offers that can get screwed up so easily if you miss a couple of payments- the house that is bigger than your parents'.

If you are a person of color and you went to one of those bad schools you have an even bigger challenge. The truth is that the real American Dream is only for a few. The rest of us are having lots of nightmares these days.


The Change That Hasn't Come

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, November 9, 2008; F01
Washington Post

It's been a long, long time coming.

"Because of what we did on this date, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America," President-elect Barack Obama said in his victory speech.

As an African American mother of three children, I've been sporadically crying ever since Election night. When I tell my children they can work hard and aspire to any job in this country, that statement is finally, finally true.

But my joy is muted because there's still some change that hasn't come.

"This is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids, to restore prosperity . . . to reclaim the American dream," Obama said.

For large pockets of America's population, prosperity is still an American dream deferred.

Obama will confront the enormous challenge of leading the country out of what is surely a recession. But the road out should be shared by all.

Income for all U.S. households has stagnated. But the numbers are worse for Hispanics and African Americans. "They are likely to suffer first and to suffer more in an economy that does not produce widely shared prosperity," wrote Amanda Logan and Tim Westrich in an updated version of "The State of Minorities: How Are Minorities Faring in the Economy?" published by the Center for American Progress.

And how are minorities faring?

Not well.

From income to unemployment to health care to homeownership, Hispanics and African Americans lag significantly behind whites, according to the data compiled by the center.

From 2000 to 2007, Hispanics' median family income declined from $39,935 to $38,679, an annualized average drop of 0.5 percent. Whites' median income also decreased during this time but by only $12 (in 2007 dollars). Whites' median family income was $54,920 in 2007, 1.4 times higher than that of Hispanics.

The median income of African Americans declined by an average of 0.7 percent per year from 2000 to 2007, dropping from $35,720 in 2000 to $34,091 in 2007.

In 2007, nearly three times as many African Americans lived in poverty as did whites. Hispanics were only slightly better off than African Americans.

The unemployment rate for all Americans hit a 14-year high, rising to 6.5 percent in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the jobless rates for African Americans and Hispanics are worse than that. The unemployment rate for African Americans was almost double that of whites. And again, although Hispanics did somewhat better than African Americans, the jobless rate among these workers had the largest increase among all adults during the month...

No comments: