The Recession is Official… Sorta

By Guest Columnist Dec 11, 2008

It’s Official…Sorta By Amaad Rivera, United for a Fair Economy For the first time in nearly a year, despite the obvious deteriorating economic situation for the majority of people in this country, we have received confirmation that we are experiencing a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research, the organization that determines an “official” recession, states that this country has been in a recession since December 2007. For most people this is not news, but it is validation. The silent truth is that people have been experiencing recession-like conditions for nearly five years, and in most cases are experiencing an economic reality that statistically compares in the Great Depression. For example, the unemployment rate of Black teenagers is 32.8%, which exceeds the Great Depression national unemployment rate of 25%. Scholars, researchers, and activists throughout the country warned of the detrimental effects of “color-blind” regressive economic policies (i.e. asset limits on welfare reform, maintaining tax benefits for the wealthy), but the invisibility of the economic realities for people of color remains constant. Young people are often the best indicators of inequality because they are part of a system of which they did not create. Poverty among Black and Latino children is 34% and 28% respectively, compared to their White counterparts at 9.7%. Young people are least likely to be insured, and this generation represents the first generations not expected to earn as much as their parents or guardians. People of color are less likely to make it to the “middle class” and are more likely to fall out of the “middle class” compared to their white counterparts. Despite the historic presidential election, the first step to real change is acknowledging the problem not transcending it before its been addressed. When we understand the problem, then we can implement comprehensive solutions. People of color are not doing well, however it is not because of individual failure, but due to the culmination of systemic inequity that continues to go unaddressed. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, United for a Fair Economy will be releasing State of the Dream 2009, a report documenting the depression-like economic reality for people of color created by faulty “color blind” policies and laisse faire economics. Together we have a unique opportunity to fulfill the promise of this great country. We need to demand community-centered holistic policy that recognizes that inherent worth of every person, regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality.