Today is March 31, 2018, thirteen days after Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, was shot 8 times by Sacramento police officers. So, where are we today compared to 150 years ago?
From the middle of the 15th century until about the end of the 19th century, Europeans enslaved and transported over 12 million Africans from Africa to America via the trans-atlantic slave trade. They then destroyed the lands of the native Americans, forced them off their land, took what remained, established a slave based nation, and then called themselves Americans. For nearly a century after the “legal” establishment of the United States of America, overt slavery was ended via the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.
Subsequently, African people were subject to another century of Jim Crow laws and “legal” discrimination. In 1964, the Civil Right Act was passed which ended segregation and overt discrimination based on race and ethnicity. Since then, African peoples have attempted to integrate with the larger American society. Yet, society has been largely indifferent to the struggles of a people enslaved for centuries and subject to the worst discrimination for another century. As 13% of the population, African peoples have continued to struggle economically and socially within the remains of American racism.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, descendants from African slaves in America are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the rest of the population. These mental health issues include major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and suicide. Much of this can be attributed to the fact they are also more likely to experience factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition such as homelessness and exposure to violence.
However, the mental illness we are concerned with is one where little research has been done and it is largely unknown or unrecognized by reputable psychiatric institutions. The condition we are concerned with understanding and identifying within the African community is commonly called Post Traumatic Slave Disorder (PTSD) or mental slavery with the effects being manifested in a false sense of self, depravity of mind, materialism, drug abuse, lose sexual relationships, and violence. There are no hard data facts on this disorder. Studying the outside effects of it also does not provide any further insight into this condition. The best we can do is study the economic and cultural factors that perhaps shape or are shaped by PTSD. Let’s begin with the economic considerations.
In general , people of African descent in America spend less money in black-owned businesses than other group spends in businesses owned by their members, including Hispanics and Asians. Although black buying power will reach $1.5 trillion in the upcoming years, little is expected to be spent at black-owned business. In the Black community, a single dollar circulates in just 6 hours compared to 17 days in the White community, 20 days in the Jewish community, and 30 days in the Asian community. (Editor's note: Support Black Owned Busineesses @ www.webuyblack.com)
A study by sociologists Raphaël Charron-Chénier, Joshua J. Fink, and Lisa A. Keister of Duke University sheds some light on the disparity between white and black household economics. This study examined data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to assess the spending habits of white and black households in 2013 and 2014. They found that blacks not only earn less than whites, but have less access to resources.
Specifically, one finding was that for repetitively purchased products such as groceries or entertainment, low-income whites and blacks spent nearly the same amounts, but high-income whites spent more on these items than their black counterparts. Another, highlight form their research showed that the only category where black households tended to spend more was for services that required a long-term contract, such utilities.
Subsequent to the Duke study, Amy Traub of Demos and Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede, & Tom Shapiro Institute for Assets and Social Policy (IASP), Brandeis University produced a study called the Asset Value of Whiteness. There study utilized data from the Duke study and found that “the average white household spends 1.3 times more than the average black household of the same income group.”
I reference this excerpt here to make the point that, contrary to popular belief, the disparity between black and white wealth is not attributed to wasteful spending among black households on entertainment, expensive clothes or fashion, beauty products, or other non-monetary-value adding consumables.
Additionally, the IASP research discovered the following 4 additional findings:
The full study can be found at:
Combined, the aforementioned research, studies, and reports is intended to establish the economic state of African peoples in America, the core problem (wealth gap), to debunk myths of the root causes (spending), and the establish the resources required for change (education, housing, and increased income). What the data does not show is how African people can obtain access to these resources. This is why 52 exists to bridge the gap and collectively, we will end this.