What Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Racist Cover Says About You

Only a moral coward would refuse to acknowledge or speak out on this racist Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine cover. Said coward will usually say something to reinforce the egregious notion that black and brown folk are to blame for the bursting of the housing bubble in 2007, that ultimately led to what we now know as The Great Recession. They’ll say something like “The financial crisis was a direct result of black and brown folks with bad credit buying homes they couldn’t afford.” They’ll say this without even the smallest mention of predatory lending; or how black and brown folk with good credit were forced into accepting mortgages with higher interest rates than white folks with shittier credit. Nope, moral cowards are all about respectability politics; and, they almost always foolishly blame the victims of injustices, economic, social, or otherwise.

Yes, the housing market is bouncing back. However, let’s not pretend that black and brown folk — you know, those disproportionately affected by the economic fallout? — are for the most part in a position to run out and buy up entire neighborhoods. Of course I can be totally wrong about this. But last time I checked, the unemployment rate for black and brown folk in America was still double that of the un-melanined; and, black women in particular are still having to resort to creating resumes with those not-so-ethnic-sounding names, to even get interview callback.

This is one of the problems I have with this racist Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover. To me, the cover seems to intentionally sound the alarm as warning of irresponsible coloreds purchasing homes. For black folk in particular, there’s no need to be worried. Because, as recent report shows, the wealth gap between blacks and whites has tripled in the last twenty-five years. And of course with all this talk of austerity, sequester, fuck the poor folks, or whatever fancy name politicians use today, one can imagine that the gap with continue to widen as folks claw to dig themselves out of the hole.

The dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines in the United States cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and African-Americans, new research shows.

So powerful are these government policies and institutional practices that for typical families, a $1 increase in average income over the 25-year study period generates just $0.69 in additional wealth for an African-American household compared with $5.19 for a white household, in part because black households have fewer opportunities to grow their savings beyond what’s needed for emergencies.

bloomberg-businessweek-racist-coverThis groundbreaking study, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide, statistically validates five “fundamental factors” that together largely explain why white households accumulate wealth so much faster over time than African-American households.

On February 27, 2013 there was a webinar hosted by the Insight Center’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, PolicyLink, and Tom Shapiro, Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. (source)

So what then are the contributing factors to this stark economic reality for black folks? Well, it surely isn’t because we’re all buying twenty-six inch rims and booming systems for our automobiles; and, it damn sure isn’t about black women gettin’ their hair and nails done er’y week either. I know, it’s hard for some of you to believe, but none of the aforementioned has any impact on the widening of the wealth gap — yep, the same goes for some of our cousins purchasing those $250 Nike Air Jordans either. So, in the event that you think I’m full of shit, do yourself a favor and checkout the following segment from the Melissa Harris-Perry show which features IASP (Institute on Assets and Social Policy)) Director, Tom Shapiro from Brandeis University. Oh yeah, don’t worry; unlike myself, he’s a smart white man you can trust.

The problem of moral cowardice as it applies in this context, is that it allows a space for some to attempt to validate what we know to be very racist characterizations of people of color. In doing so, people of color are relegated to being politically powerless — it’s as if to say nevermind predatory lending, the racial disparity in lending rates, or a loss of employment in this slow economy; truth is, black folks are losing their homes (which is the primary source of investment (for many) because they couldn’t afford them to begin with — hence the glee with which the cover depicts them.

When the moral coward does this, this isn’t good for society at large. Thankfully, however, there are people of all walks of life coming together to affect change as is the following case in Detroit, Michigan. I’m pretty sure that the individuals in the following all did the right thing, but a moral coward wouldn’t recognize this. So, while promoting marriage might sound cute in a speech targeting communities of color a fix to its woes, how about some policy designed to keep “certain people” in their homes? Given the fact that The Great Recession did happen, naturally, doing so would be a nice start, no? Given the current attack on the Voting Rights Act, I’m all for fighting to preserve the right to vote. However, what good is said right when the economic plight of people of color is largely ignored by elected politicians who continue to pay us lip service each election?