Inequity is not race neutral
New Detroit just released its Detroit Race Equity report and the findings are staggering. African Americans and Latinos are last in every significant economic category in all three southeastern Michigan counties. Detroit’s per capita income is the lowest in the region and African Americans and Latinos in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties are doing poorly by any income measurement.
The per capita income for Detroit’s African American population averages $15, 213. In the region’s wealthiest county — Oakland county — African American per capita income is $26, 866. While white income is $38,939 and Asian American income is $40,625.
Aside from Detroit, African Americans are the least likely to live in an owner-occupied housing unit. While 83 percent of Detroit is Black, 55.8 percent of all workers in Detroit are white. In the entire region Blacks, American Indians and Latinos lag far behind their white counterparts in educational attainment, in household income, in per capita income and in home ownership.
There are two worlds in southeast Michigan and race is the marker.
Gov. Snyder, Mayor Duggan, Detroit Future City planners must acknowledge this disparity in creating policy for Detroit and the region. Too long have we gone along with “race-neutral“ policy.
In his first interview with the Michigan Citizen, Orr insists his work is race neutral. Yet, neutrality is a myth when race and ethnicity has become a defining marker for poverty and lack of access in Southeastern Michigan.
Policymakers must acknowledge the structural realities that define the lives of the majority of Detroiters.
There is a cost to racism and discrimination. We all lose out because we believe the opportunities are limited and the spoils should be reserved for the few. The reality is growth for one group can mean growth for the state and nation.
According to the report: If the average incomes of minorities were raised to the average incomes of whites, total U.S. earnings would increase by 12 percent, representing nearly $1 trillion today. By closing the earnings gap through higher productivity, gross domestic product (GDP) would increase by a comparable percentage, for an increase of $1.9 trillion today. The earnings gained would translate into $180 billion in additional corporate profits, $290 billion in additional federal tax revenues, and a potential reduction in the federal deficit of $350 billion, or 2.3 percent of GDP.
When projected to 2030 and 2050, the results are even more startling. Minorities make up 37 percent of the working age population now, but they are projected to grow to 46 percent by 2030, and 55 percent by 2050. Closing the earnings gap by 2030 would increase GDP by 16 percent, or more than $5 trillion a year. Federal tax revenues would increase by over $1 trillion and corporate profits would increase by $450 billion. By 2050, closing the gap would increase GDP by 20 percent. This is roughly the size of the entire federal budget, and a higher percentage than all U.S. healthcare expenditures!
A U.S. Department of Commerce study estimated if income inequities were eliminated, minority purchasing power would increase from a baseline projection of $4.3 trillion in 2045 to $6.1 trillion (in 1998 dollars), reaching 70 percent of all U.S. purchases.
Only the privileged can be race neutral. Everyone else’s life will be limited or defined by the color of their skin or their ethnicity and the lack of opportunity that accompanies.