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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:58 AM

The Collapse of Black Wealth


from the American Prospect:


The Collapse of Black Wealth

Monica Potts
November 21, 2012

Prince George’s County was a symbol of African-American prosperity. Then came the housing crisis.


When Joe Parker was a young, newly married public-school administrator who wanted to buy a home in 1974, he didn’t even think about leaving Prince George’s County, Maryland. It was where he and his parents had grown up. But when Parker first tried to bid on a house in a new development in Mitchellville, a small farming community that was sprouting ranch and split-level homes on old plantation lands, the real-estate agent demurred, claiming there were other buyers. In truth, the development had been built to lure white, middle-class families to the county, which sits just east of Washington, D.C. Parker never told the agent that he served on a new county commission to enforce laws forbidding housing discrimination. He just persisted, he says, until he and his wife were able to bid. “My wife kept saying, ‘Why don’t you tell him?’” Parker recalls, but he refused to pull rank. “I said no, because what does the next black man do?”

The next black families did arrive. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, most of the professionals who bought homes in Prince George’s County came from Washington’s black middle class. Laws that expanded minority homeownership, combined with a booming mortgage market, brought more and more black residents out to the suburbs. When Parker bought his home in the ’70s, African Americans made up about 14 percent of the population in Prince George’s County; by 2010, the share of black families would be almost 65 percent. Across the country, in the final decades of the 20th century, minorities were moving into suburbs in unprecedented numbers. But Prince George’s County was distinct: It was one of the few places—like Southfield, Michigan, outside of Detroit; Warrensville Heights, Ohio, outside of Cleveland; and DeKalb County, Georgia, outside of Atlanta—that grew wealthier as it became blacker. Median income in Prince George’s outpaced the national median from the 1970 census forward.

Prince George’s County today is a collection of cities, small towns, and bedroom communities with a population of about 870,000. Home-improvement stores and shopping centers pepper broad boulevards; McMansion-filled subdivisions end in cul-de-sacs. With a median income of $71,260, it’s wealthier than the state as a whole. There are Outback Steakhouses and Whole Foods markets. There are fall festivals, international festivals, and food festivals. There are pumpkin patches and Christmas-tree farms. Bowie, in the northern part of the county, is home to Bowie State University, a liberal-arts college that once trained black teachers as the Maryland Normal and Industrial School at Bowie. Joe Parker, now retired from the school system, serves as a neighborhood captain to welcome families into the development he bought into almost 40 years ago and is a neighborhood historian. His three sons still live in Prince George’s County. It’s home.

Prince George’s County became emblematic of a long-delayed advance toward equality: the growth of black wealth in America. For three centuries, structural racism had prevented black families from building wealth. School systems, hiring practices, red-lining, and discriminatory lending practices all combined to deny the opportunities that white Americans, whether immigrant or native born, saw as their birthright. In the South, especially, there were more direct means of holding back black economic advancement: Violence was often directed toward black men and women who owned businesses or farms and toward those who fought for their right to work for fair wages. But in the 1980s, helped by laws that encouraged homeownership among minorities, African American families were at last able not only to earn higher incomes but to buy homes and build wealth. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://prospect.org/article/rising-tide-2



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Reply The Collapse of Black Wealth (Original post)
marmar Nov 2012 OP
xchrom Nov 2012 #1
ProgressiveProfessor Nov 2012 #2
southernyankeebelle Nov 2012 #3
Blue_Tires Nov 2012 #4
fightthegoodfightnow Nov 2012 #5

Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 12:28 PM

1. Du rec. Nt

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 01:03 PM

2. Many of the comments on the source document are interesting

They point out that this was not just a black problem and was just as bad for Hispanics in San Bernadino and other first time home owners, regardless of race. Those make some sense too.

As a black man, I also need to weigh in on some other causes that are somewhat more specific to the black community.
- We spend much more on the trappings of wealth than other groups. Expensive cars, houses, clothes etc.
- We historically have no concept of generational wealth (something brought up in the article). There are no black Kennedys to follow and emulate.
- The concept of long term savings is often foreign to us. Our parents and grandparents never had any and did not teach it to us.

Until longer term thinking becomes part of the American black culture, this will remain a problem. This impacts not only personal finances but global warning, financial policy, etc. While some will rightly point out it is hard to worry about the next generation when you are starving in the moment, but there has been enough of a migration away from poverty for some long term thinking to be expected from my brothers and sisters at this point.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 04:42 PM

3. This is so disgraceful in this day and age. When is the country going to grow up and

 

realize we all bleed red.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 05:05 PM

4. I used to live there about 8 years ago, and things were already going downhill

P.G. hasn't been helped by a shitty, corrupt county government, inept, absentee management of the school system, predatory commercial developers, and high crime combined with an incompetent police force...Not to mention the sheer geographical size of the county, and the numerous political struggles among the little towns and municipalities...

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 10:25 PM

5. THANK YOU PG COUNTY!!!!!

Thank you for defying stereotypes that that black community does not support marriage equality.

You do and that means you are VERY wealthy in my book. There is nothing more rich than EQUALITY!

My heartfelt thanks!

http://www.afro.com/sections/news/prince-georges-county-news/story.htm?storyID=76645

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