The simplistic idea that impoverished African Americans have only themselves to blame for their poverty, due to their poor cultural values—a notion advanced by many, including black public figures such as Bill Cosby—is believable only if a blind eye is turned to those inconvenient things social scientists like to call “facts.” Algernon Austin soundly refutes the “culture of poverty” argument by paying careful attention to marco-economic data about long-term poverty trends and sociological case studies about persistent discrimination. In other words, unlike the glib punditry, Austin actually looks at the “facts.”
--Dr. Andrew Hartman, professor and audience member, Illinois State University
Contact Dr. Austin to arrange a speaking engagement.
The year 2000 was the economic high point for black America. The black median household income was its highest on record; the black poverty rate reached its lowest point on record. The latest data [income (Table H-6), poverty (Table 2), report (PDF)] from the Census Bureau shows the beginning of what is likely to be a significant multi-year decline in the economic fortunes of blacks.
In 2000, the median black household income was $37,093 (2008 dollars). By 2007, the median had fallen $1,873 dollars or 5 percent to $35,219. From 2007 to 2008, the median black household income fell another $1001 dollars to $34,218. Overall, the median black household was down 8 percent from 2000 in 2008.
In 2000, the black poverty rate was 22.5 percent. By 2004, it was up to 24.5 percent. Luckily, from 2007 to 2008, the black poverty rate only increased 0.2 percentage points to 24.7 percent. Most likely, it will go higher in the near future.
2008 was a bad year, but 2009 has been far worse. Sadly, unemployment is likely to increase into 2010. So, 2010 will be a bad year also.
Pray for a strong recovery starting in 2010.
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--Algernon Austin, Ph.D.
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