George Lipsitz, Professor of Black Studies at USCB, Chair of the Board at AAPF, Board Member at the National Fair Housing Alliance.
Terry Dotson, Healthcare Specialist
William Darity, Professor of Economics at Duke University
Mary Frances Berry, Professor of American Social Thought and History at the University of Pennsylvania
Moderated by Janine Jackson, FAIR
At all levels of common discourse, we have seen the emergence of a gender-exclusive frame for addressing racial injustice. From Black male achievement initiatives to the grassroots movement against state violence, men and boys have been centered as the primary targets of racial injustice in this country. This male-centric approach has led to the false inference that Black women are not also at risk.
In examining the existing data, we see that Black women are indeed suffering alongside their male counterparts, particularly with respect to economic marginality and the many consequences of generational disadvantage.
Over the last year, Black women are the only group whose unemployment rates did not improve. Black women ages 18-24 have the highest unemployment rate amongst women nationwide and, during the Great Recession, lost more jobs than their male counterparts. Furthermore, the median wealth of single Black women is just $5.00 - lower than every other group, including Black men.
Moreover, Black women were more impacted by the housing crisis than any other group. They are also more likely to face certain consequences of housing insecurity such as foreclosure. Black women were 256 percent more likely than white men to receive subprime loans when purchasing homes, which left them vulnerable to being foreclosed on after the economic crisis. One in five people who received a subprime loan will be foreclosed upon, meaning Black female homeowners face a drastically increased chance of foreclosure. Moreover, losing their homes, a primary source for wealth, can shut out the possibility of wealth-building and economic mobility for generations.
The economic marginality of women of color makes them, their families and their communities vulnerable to a wide range of other inequalities. The connection between poverty and poor health, poor educational outcomes, exposure to violence and the phenomenon of mass incarceration is well established. Poverty exacerbates Black women’s vulnerabilities to a myriad of issues that make it increasingly difficult for them to improve their conditions and build wealth, creating a cycle of poverty for their entire communities. Addressing the particular contours of these economic conditions requires a deep understanding of the intersectional vulnerabilities that women of color face across the lifespan.
Join us as we explore this issue, and call for the development of an economic agenda that includes Black women at its center.
Karen McLeod’s experience sheds light on the economic situation many Black women face. McLeod, 59, is a college graduate with two degrees who cannot find steady employment. McLeod went from making $30/hour as a respiratory therapist, to $16/hour in her non-profit position, to $8.67/hour, working only 4 hours per week. in her current circumstances she has had to make a series of tough decisions to get by. She sold her jewelry for gas, pawned her television for food, and was forced to ask local nonprofits for rent assistance. McLeod’s story represents the experiences of a growing number of Black women, whose conditions are not improving with economic recovery.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Building the Capacity to Create Change
Join AAPF in elevating the crisis facing Black women! Contact us if you would like to partner on any of the following:
Host a town hall in your community. Watch a preview of AAPF’s town hall series here.
Organize focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Black women and girls and other women and girls of color in your community.
Is your city an MBK city? Find out here. Work with AAPF to demand your local leaders re-align local MBK implementation to ensure it is inclusive and comprehensive in its vision of racial justice.
Share a picture of something that costs $5.00, alongside this statistic “The Median Wealth of Black Women is $5.00. That is the equivalent of [Insert the name of the item you are sharing here]. Use the hashtag #HerDreamDeferred.
Gather a group of friends. What if the median wealth of Black women increased from $5.00 to $41,000, the current median wealth for white women. Discuss how this would change the overall status of our community. What resources would our children have access to? How would this change the day-to-day lives of Black women? Men? Children? What can we do to center Black women in our overall economic agenda?
Surveying the Landscape:
How many of your friends are raising families on a single Black woman’s income?
Reflecting on Your Own Story:
If you’re a mother, log how many miles you travel, providing for your family each day. Compare this to the number of miles, your partner or anyone else with childcare responsibility, travels for your family. Reflect upon the stress this places on you individually. Share your story with AAPF and work with us to advance a Black women’s economic agenda.
Creating Public Will:
Gather your friends, family, community group or church to watch AAPF’s Unequal Opportunity Race. Reflect upon the video and all of the historical economic and social barriers facing Black people. What would an unequal opportunity race look like for Black women specifically?
Study Finds Median Wealth For Single Black Women at $5, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, 3.11.2010
'Dying Out Here': U.S. Job Gains Leave Black Women Behind, Bill Briggs, NBC News
In Subprime Fallout, Women Take a Heavy Hit, Molly Ginty, The Investigative Fund, 1.14.2010