Unemployed handyman Napoleon Leonard cooks a pot of squirrel soup on his makeshift stove at the spot where his house once stood before it was destroyed.
For the past few years now, joblessness and poverty have injured in the Black community far more than they did in the years preceding them. Though African-Americans have never had it easy in America, the most recent economic hardships — though they’ve affected all Americans — have been particularly damning for Blacks, who have been laid off, lost their homes and remained poor at disproportionate rates. Experts tell us the recession is over. Yet things keep getting worse for Black Americans.
American household income has declined since the end of the Great Recession even as corporate profits have rebounded past their pre-recession levels, and the declines for African-Americans have been particularly steep. Overall household income dropped 7.2 percent, according to a study from Sentier Research, but for black households, the decline was 11.1 percent. That adds to the pain of the recession for blacks, who were disproportionately affected by the housing crisis and have dealt with persistently high unemployment.
According to the Sentier report, whites have lost 5.2 percent from their household income in the same time that Blacks have lost 11.1 percent. Latinos have lost just 4.1 percent.
It’s worth keeping in mind that corporate profits are up — a lot in some cases. Alas, as ThinkProgress also reported, corporations and the wealthy people running them are not doing with that money what some people on the left would like them to do.
“Corporate profits are at record levels, reaching an all-time high of 11 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in July,” writes Travis Waldron at Think Progress. “But instead of re-investing that cash into jobs that will help the economy recover, corporations are sitting on cash — the members of the Standard and Poor’s 500 held $800 billion in cash in June 2011.”
This is something to keep in mind as we enter the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, this week. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — the presumptive GOP candidates for president and vice president, respectively — have made no bones about the fact that they intend to be kind to the richest Americans. As Jonathan P. Hicks wrote earlier this month, Ryan “is the lead Republican who is resolute about the fact that wealthy Americans should not pay a nickel more in taxes, but that spending on programs for inner-city education and health care should be slashed.”
Something tells me Romney and Ryan won’t be thinking too much about Black people’s problems this week.
These views do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)