By Zhang Mengxu, People’s Daily
Roughly speaking, the best-case scenario for the past 30 years occurred when blacks had about one-sixth the median wealth of whites in 1998, said a report recently released by US think tank Center for American Progress.
The black-white wealth gap has not recovered from the Great Recession in 2007, the report said. Although black wealth increased at a faster rate than white wealth in 2016, blacks still owned less than 10 percent of whites’ wealth at the median.
For a variety of reasons, African Americans are more vulnerable to economic insecurity and therefore are in greater need of wealth. They have less access to stable jobs, are more likely to be unemployed than whites, and are particularly less likely to owe money on a mortgage or home equity line of credit. In addition, they are more likely to own costlier debt than whites.
Moreover, the disparities between white and black Americans can nearly always be traced back to policies that either implicitly or explicitly discriminate against black Americans, the report pointed out.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black mothers and children die at disproportionately higher rates than their white counterparts, regardless of their income levels.
Researchers have suggested that racism—which has produced segregated neighborhoods with fewer hospitals, higher rates of chronic illnesses, and unequal access to health care—is the main culprit.
At present, American society is seeing increasing contradictions and confrontations between different ethnic groups. According to data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes in 30 cities in the US surged by 10% in 2018. Racial hatred has already led to several mass shootings in recent months. This has generated a deep sense of unease for American society.
According to a report released this year by the US Southern Poverty Law Center, the total number of registered hate groups in the US increased to 1,020 in 2018, a 30 percent jump from 2014, and the number of white nationalist groups surged by 50%.
US Census Bureau also pointed out that white Americans were projected to fall below half the population and lose their majority status. It intensified fears and frustrations of the society so much that various white supremacist and white nationalist groups have recently sprung up. At least three American states have elected governors holding white supremacist views
Racial inequality is a chronic disease of American society. White supremacy, instigation of racial discrimination and hate speech have long been around in the US, according to the report of the 93rd Session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and a report by a UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, based on the resolutions of the UN General Assembly.
Gerald Early, director of the Department of African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, told People’s Daily that the long-standing existence of racial issues in American society reveals the incapability of the American system.
He explained that although apartheid and discrimination were abolished, the racial boundaries are still lingering in people’s minds. In many cities, there are so-called white communities and African-American communities. The latter are often full of dilapidated houses, and their local governments always can’t afford to build quality public schools and hospitals due to limited tax bases. This has become a vicious circle.
Besides, the US political world is also experiencing an unprecedented division. It has lost the ability to reach and implement consensus on major issues, let alone breaking the vicious circle.
A senior researcher at the Hudson Institute believes that the endless racial discrimination and rising hate crimes have to some extent reflected that democracy is in crisis, and division has become a prominent feature of American politics.
In recent decades, the US congressional legislation has delegated broad powers to administrative agencies, while the Congress simply decides whether or not to pass the legislation by voting. The administrative agencies have been manipulated by interest groups. The laws they passed were often affected by interest groups and considered “bad” in the eyes of the public.
As the views of the so-called elite could better influence the national policy and the demands of the average Joes are often neglected because of bureaucracy, the voice of anger has eventually evolved into violence and even discrimination.