The wealth discrepancy between blacks and whites in Washington is a stark example of racial inequality in America. Basically, on life’s balance sheet, white families have the economic legacy, and black the emotional underpinnings.
While we pursue “mainstream politics” like a dream and goal, the wealth discrepancy between blacks and whites remains one of the starkest examples of inequality in America. An average white family has 13 times the wealth of an average black family. White American families have, on average, about $142,000 in savings and assets, minus debt. Black families’ wealth amounts to $11,000. The bluster of political power has done little for “black power.” The gulf between black and white wealth is the worst it has been since the 1980s.
Washington is a “government town” but blacks need to incorporate “business.” Area economists say the nature of the regional economy is starting to change as new businesses push the local economy more toward commercial markets and less toward the government. As much as any population-segment, blacks have, and are making, broad-based gains in the health care, hospitality and retail sectors which overtook new jobs in areas typically associated with government contractors. The region’s already-low unemployment rate dropped to an astonishing 3.7 percent, and the region consistently added jobs at a faster clip than the rest of the country.
Union and Democratic politicians have blacks focusing on issues not necessarily our own — minimum-wage and low-pay issues. Things have gotten better for African-Americans — life expectancy of African-Americans has increased from 68 in 1976 to 75 today — yet little is being done eliminating racial wealth inequities. The frontier of blacks’ future is confronting these economic disparities.
The unions and Democrats have swiped blacks’ agenda. They stage rallies with underpaid workers, local racial justice activists, elected officials and clergy in the fight for a $15 minimum wage. These factions hold marches, teach-ins, and other demonstrations to stress that the push for economic and racial justice remains deeply linked today as when Dr. King was killed in 1968. Republican lawmakers in more than two-dozen states have introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on protesters like those in the fight for $15 and the Movement for Black Lives.
Blacks’ interests are often lost in practices of “mainstream politics.” The truth seems as if blacks have conceded leadership on “blacks’ issues” to the union and Democratic Party. Thousands of workers, elected officials civil rights leaders are making demands for higher wages. The result is that blacks’ economic interests and efforts have fallen victim to “mainstream politics.”
African-Americans in D.C. provide the best evidence of how well blacks across the country could be doing. The nation’s capital is home to the highest concentration of moneyed and educated blacks in the world. D.C.’s blacks know how the other side lives. The D.C. metro area people have the highest median income in the U.S. Census reports show that the median household income for area residents and voters to be $93,294.
Black Washingtonians are the best ones to lead packs of people “supporting their own.” Blacks have a history of successes in D.C. commerce, including Industrial Bank’s three-generation legacy.
Enough of these “mainstream” politics. While they just can’t seem to see the truth before their eyes, Blacks need to practice crony capitalism and bank with, buy from and invest in each other. Too many African-Americans still seek “mainstream acceptance” rather than pursuing personal business success and market penetration.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.