“There is no indication that Black America will ever recover so long as racism and capitalism dictate social relations in the US.”
Under the regime of global capitalism, the most important indicator of economic prosperity is wealth. Wealth is capital. It is the means by which one advances their economic status through the ownership of the tools of production and exchange. A new study has emerged that sheds light on the extent of Black America's precarious economic position in US society. The study, conducted by the Economic Policy Institute and Prosperity Now, predicts a gloomy forecast for the future of Black wealth in America.
According to the study, wealth in Black America will continue to decline years after the 2007-2008 capitalist economic crisis. This decline is projected to end in 2053 when Black America's wealth in the US finally hits zero. The study goes further to explain how Black wealth is even smaller than it appears when durable goods (automobiles, electronics, and furniture) are subtracted. Black median wealth falls to $1700 after such subtractions are made. That means that the middle Black family in the US has less than 2K worth of cash assets to utilize in case of emergency, let alone for the obtainment of basic needs.
The study ultimately bursts asunder the myth of Black economic progress in material terms. Less than fifteen percent of the Black population in America can be said to own "middle class" wealth. Black and Latino Americans are overwhelmingly asset poor, with seventy percent of both racial groups falling in this category. So while depictions of Black life in the corporate media continue to center the economically comfortable, the reality on the ground is much different. Black America has never recovered from the economic crisis. And there is no indication that Black America will ever recover so long as racism and capitalism dictate social relations in the US.
“Less than fifteen percent of the Black population in America can be said to own ‘middle class’ wealth.”
The crisis of capitalism is making Black America into a wealth-less community. This is in keeping with the foundations of the United State itself. Black Americans arrived on the shores of what would become the US as stolen labor. Their labor power was bought and sold by capitalists seeking to maximize profit. Black labor would eventually build the most militarized and economically advanced capitalist nation to date. Black families were systematically denied the ability to generate wealth for over a century, condemning future generations to a state of economic insecurity after formal “emancipation.”
Economic insecurity rarely makes it into mainstream political discourse. Both corporate parties in the US and the corporately owned media behind them have no interest in presenting an accurate picture of Black life in America. The ruling class is more interested in the political and economic crisis of the system of exploitation responsible for the dwindling wealth of Black Americans. Hours are spent trying to cook up the most convincing story of how President Donald Trump is connected to the Russian government. Meanwhile, the corporate media and the political class completely ignore how former President Barack Obama is making a number of speeches to Wall Street firms less than a year after his policies left Black America in a precarious position.
Black America's path toward zero wealth has been set by the global crisis of capitalism. The US capitalist economy is in a state of stagnation. Growth is estimated to be 1-2 percent for the foreseeable future. US capitalism continues to mechanize and expand in an effort to reverse the decline in the profit rate. Every attempt at expansion and mechanization only exacerbates the inherent contractions of capitalism, whereby an increasingly miserable and unemployable working class is leveled with the burden of poverty. Huddled among the impoverished masses is a significant portion of white America. According the IPS's study on Black wealth, only 18 percent of whites are in possession of "middle class wealth" while over 42 percent can be considered "asset poor."
“Black Americans are the targets of a prolonged war of race-based social control.”
The contradictions of US capitalism in its most advanced imperialist stage has sent the ruling class in a frenzy to prevent the inevitable collapse of the system. What has followed is an all-out assault on the living standards of oppressed people everywhere. Black Americans are the targets of a prolonged war of race-based social control. US capitalism has historically required Black labor to build the infrastructure of an empire. However, with nothing to build, the very existence of Black Americans has become anathema to the ruling system. Police occupation and mass incarceration have become the preferred methods of the rulers to control Black surplus labor by way of state terror.
In summary, the US capitalist system is sitting on top of a crisis that at any moment could lead to mass rebellion. Congress is beset with low approval ratings. A corporate brand and media personality is President in large part due to the disaffection of millions of people with the two-party corporate duopoly. Most of the major corporate media outlets are too busy concocting a connection between Trump and Russia to cover any legitimate issue facing working class and poor people. And state violence against the oppressed will steadily increase as conditions domestically and globally become more acute.
“Police occupation and mass incarceration have become the preferred methods of the rulers to control Black surplus labor by way of state terror.”
We are living in revolutionary times. Yet we lack a revolutionary movement. The world is moving away from the grip of US hegemony. China is the future. Latin America, Asia, and Africa are currently in a struggle that will determine whether they will move alongside China or remain trapped under the boot of US domination. This struggle will inevitably influence the political movement in the US. The question is not if, but when this will occur.
Any movement that seeks to join the world in transforming what Malcolm X called the miserable conditions on this earth must be prepared to explain why Black America is becoming a wealth-less community. Studies that diagnose the problem are not enough. The IPS suggests a federal jobs program, an increased minimum-wage, and the elimination of predatory lending as possible policy solutions to resolve Black America's wealth problem. These potential demands mean little without a movement to bring them to fruition. Only a movement armed with demands can force the US imperial state to answer to the people. The masses will then realize that the state is incapable of meeting their demands and the ruling class will publicly tremble in fear for their heads.
Danny Haiphong is a Vietnamese-American activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at [email protected]