New Book Shows Black Decline Since 1980—Worsened Under Obama

The status of African Americans in the U.S has actually declined over the past two decades and has gotten dramatically worse since the election of Barack Obama, according to a troubling book, “Invisible Men,” by University of Washington professor Becky Pettit.

Though President Obama’s election was viewed as a watershed moment for the plight of African Americans, it appears to have had no impact on the lives of everyday blacks in this country. And in fact the recession that slammed the economy just before Obama took office has drastically hurt the condition of the black community.

Pettit, seeing that many government agencies and studies exclude the prison population from their findings, decided to put that population into her calculations and found that it dramatically changed the status of African Americans. This is understandable, considering that half of the 2.3 million U.S. prisoners are black.
Pettit says her findings explode “the myth of black progress” since the 1960s.
“This work dispels the notion that we live in a post-racial society. It not only deconstructs the myth of black progress, but also the myth of American progress overall,” Inimai Chettiar, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s school of law, told The Guardian.

When you add the prison population to the voting statistics, black voter turnout in 2008 for Obama’s election was overestimated by 13 percent—a greater percentage of young black high school dropouts turned out to vote in the 1980 election, when Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, than when Obama beat John McCain in 2008.

When you add prisoners, the employment rate for young black men who have dropped out of school drops from 42 percent to 26 percent.

“We have developed a distorted view of how black Americans are faring in our society,” Pettit said.

According to Pettit, government estimates suggest that eventually one in three of all black male adults will spend some time in prison if current trends continue. While blacks were three times more likely to be incarcerated than whites in the 1930s, now they are seven times more likely—largely due to drug enforcement policies that disproportionately affect African Americans.

As for economics, the black decline has been steady and depressing. According to the National Urban League, from 2005 to 2009 the average black household’s wealth fell by more than half and the median annual household income fell by 11.1 percent from 2009 to 2012—compared with a drop of 5.2 percent for whites and 4.1 percent for Hispanics.

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