The Great Recession may be over for the country as a whole, but African Americans aren’t feeling the recovery. Black unemployment remains double that for whites. The median income gap between white and black households has hit a record high. Blacks have half the access to health care as whites. The gap in homeownership is wider today than it was in 1990. African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to have suffered foreclosure.
The list goes on: Net wealth for black families dropped by 27.1 percent during the recession. One in 15 African-American men is incarcerated, compared with one in 106 white men. Blacks make up 38 percent of inmates in state and federal prisons. Although only 13.8 percent of the U.S. population, African-Americans represent 27 percent of those living below the poverty line.
It is a grim picture—and one that administration policymakers know well. They insist the White House has attacked the stubborn problems with an array of policies, some of them through executive-branch actions and more through legislative proposals.
Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, thinks there is a chance we will hear more from Obama on these issues now that he has secured another four years. “I do think it is probably realistic that in his first term he was a bit more cautious than one might expect him to be in this term,” she toldNational Journal soon after she and other black leaders met with Obama at the White House. “I do see this president as one who now is ready to lay out a legacy.... Though he is still facing a significant amount of challenge [from Congress], he has finally—it took him a minute to get it—but I think he has finally got the hang of the effective use of the bully pulpit.”
In this week's National Journal cover story, George Condon and Jim O'Sullivan discuss race under the Obama administration. In the video above, go behind the story with George Condon himself.