Make A Difference - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1661688

Make A Difference

We’ve come a long way … maybe?

But while progress was underway, African-Americans’ opportunities for economic and professional mobility were extremely limited. That reality was reflected in the vast wealth disparity between black and white households.

In 1953, the net worth of the typical black household was just 20 percent of the typical white household, according to a recent working paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis that offers an unusually long-term look at the evolution of America’s racial gap in household finances.

By 2013, the wealth of the median black family in the United States had fallen to a mere 10 percent of its white counterpart. Put another way, in 1953, four-fifths of white families made more than the typical black household. Now, closer to nine-tenths do.

The typical black household in 1953 was making just more than half of the income earned by the typical white household. As of 2013, that earning gap had barely closed: The median black household still made only 58 percent of what the median white household did (“Disappointing Facts About the Black-White Wage Gap,” Mary C. Daly, Bart Hobijn and Joseph H. Pedtke).

More than a half century since the Civil Rights Act became law, U.S. workers continue to experience different levels of success depending on their race. Analysis using microdata on earnings shows that black men and women earn persistently lower wages compared to their white counterparts, and that these gaps cannot be fully explained by differences in age, education, job type or location. Especially troubling is the growing unexplained portion of the divergence in earnings for blacks relative to whites.

In one of the most concentrated investigations of discrimination by real estate agents in the half century since enactment of America’s landmark Fair Housing Law, Newsday found evidence of widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island.

The three-year probe strongly indicates that house hunting in one of the nation’s most segregated suburbs poses substantial risks of discrimination, with black buyers chancing disadvantages almost half the time they enlist brokers.

Additionally, the investigation reveals that Long Island’s dominant residential brokering firms help solidify racial separations. They frequently directed white customers toward areas with the highest white representations, and minority buyers to more integrated neighborhoods.

How you view me or these blatant statistics will be a honest heart-searching personal reveal. There’s an unfortunate disturbance in this world, and specifically in This America. And reflecting after Thursday night’s Southampton Village Board meeting, I pondered: Was I in D.C. or Southampton?

Are you part of the solution or part of the problem? We do have the power to make a difference. Will you?

Brenda Simmons



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