Three major upheavals — nationwide protests of racial injustice, record-setting unemployment and a deadly pandemic — are rocking our politics, our economy and our lives, and they’re deeply intertwined.
Take what Marcos Parker, a 19-year-old who was detained on a burglary charge in New York City, told our Metro reporter Jan Ransom when he was released on Wednesday.
“I won’t lie. I was looting,” he said. He said he had stolen merchandise because he had lost his job. “It was really this coronavirus,” he said. “I was working before corona.”
When it comes to the virus, the whole country is paying a price. But the costs of our sacrifices differ dramatically based on our race.
Black Americans are dying of Covid-19 at much higher rates than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Counties with a disproportionately high black population account for more than half of the country’s coronavirus cases and nearly 60 percent of deaths, according to a national study by an AIDS research group.
To use just one example, in mid-April, all eight people who had died of the virus in Richmond, Va., were black.
Communities of color also shoulder a great share of the economic impacts of the virus.
Even before the virus, the gap between the finances of blacks and whites was larger in 2020 than it was in 1968, another year of upheaval, according to The Washington Post.
In 1968, a typical middle-class black household had $6,674 in wealth compared to $70,786 for the typical middle-class white household, according to data from the historical Survey of Consumer Finances that’s been adjusted for inflation. In 2016, the typical middle-class black household had $13,024 in wealth versus $149,703 for the median white household, an even larger gap in percentage terms.
“The historical data also reveal that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years,” wrote the economists Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike I. Steins in their analysis of U.S. incomes and wealth since World War II.