Young Woman Thinking --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Young Woman Thinking — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I believe a African-American permanent underclass is here.

Who are the underclass? According to Richard Florida’s article “The 66%: America’s Growing Underclass” 66% of Americans are in the underclass. Richard Florida quotes Richard Longfellow who says,

“Leave Manhattan and the Loop, head east from Seattle or north from the Bos-wash Corridor, hit the interstates through the Midwest and the South, plunge into the empty and echoing hearts of Detroit or Cleveland or the arid reaches of the Great Plains, and another America emerges. …

This is the land of double-wides and dollar stores, of closed mills and mines, of bankrupt towns, of casinos paying minimum wage to laid-off auto workers, of once-vibrant cities — from Newton in Iowa to Rockford in Illinois, to Terre Haute and Muncie in Indiana to Mansfield and Lima in Ohio, and onto Syracuse and Buffalo in New York — all created to serve industries or corporations that have gone away…

This includes inner-city blacks stranded in their ghettoes, a million Hispanic immigrants scrambling for a toehold, and many of the city’s whites, high school grads or even college grads tending bars or stocking shelves at Target. Not that they’re unemployed: many of these people have jobs, sometimes two or three jobs. They used to be middle class. If they owned a home, it’s foreclosed now. Their kids won’t go to college.”

That sounds like millions of Americans many of us know. However, my focus is on the African-American underclass. Did you know 27% of African-Americans live in poverty? The causes for poverty include racism, sexism, taking care of other relatives, lack of education, generational poverty and personal choices.

Have you noticed that many of the programs and social safety nets that have disproportionately affected African-Americans are being eliminated? Why? In order to compete with third world countries that offer cheap labor, we need a cheap and unskilled workforce. The growing underclass fills that void.

Because of rising costs and a reduction in tax base (a loss in property tax revenue due to high unemployment, reduced homeownership and migration out of cities) city, state and federal agencies are finding it much more financially viable to simply eliminate these programs that help poor people. Earlier this year President Obama signed a bill that cut food stamps. “On Friday, President Obama added his signature to legislation that will cut $8.7 billion in food stamp benefits over the next 10 years, causing 850,000 households to lose an average of $90 per month. The signing of the legislation known as the 2014 Farm Bill occurred at a public event in East Lansing, Mich.” President Obama signs $8.7 billion food stamp cut into law

Why are they targeting the underclass? First of all they don’t vote.  Secondly they are poor. Take a look at the net worth of the average Black family. You can march, scream and yell but you are nothing without political and economic power.

2013 Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity

Location White Black Hispanic Other Total
United States 10% 27% 24% 14% 15%

Source: The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation

“In 2013, the net worth of the typical white family was nearly 13 times that of the typical black family, and 10 times that of the typical Latino one. Both gaps have widened since the recession ended more than five years ago according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.” The Wealth Gap Between Whites And Minorities Is Growing.

Even wealthy African-Americans are leaving poor African-Americans behind.

“Low-income blacks also slipped further behind. The share of black households ranking among the poorest poor – those earning less than $15,000 – climbed from 20 percent to 26 percent over the past decade; other race and ethnic groups posted smaller increases. At the same time, African-Americans making $200,000 or more a year were unchanged from 2000 at about 1.1 percent, even after a deep recession. Many affluent blacks are moving to the South, seeking a return to their ancestral homeland after a decades-long Great Migration to the North.” Census: As Affluent Blacks Leave Cities, Poor Slip Farther

November 2014 Unemployment status of the civilian population by race (numbers in the thousands)

Data White Black Asian




Unemployment rate




Not in labor force




Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-2. Employment status of the civilian population by race, sex, and age Not Seasonally Adjusted

Many of my friends are pointing to 2041. Why 2041? That is when this country will be majority minority. People naïvely believe that because of the shifting demographics there will also be a shift in power. In fact, I believe the opposite. Power and resources (food production, water and jobs) are still controlled by a few and I believe their grip will be even tighter. An example of this is Ferguson, MO. You would think with 67% of the vote the Black vote African-Americans would run the city but take a look at who controls their local government.


Ferguson, MO city council.

Ferguson, MO city council.

So what is the point of this post? You are on your own. The government won’t help you. Wealthy African-Americans won’t help you. You and only you can solve it before it is too late. As long as wealth building, proper life planning, intelligent career choices, voting power and entrepreneurship aren’t priorities I predict even with the population projections, Ferguson is the future of America. This is my view. Feel free to disagree or even add to the post.

Look for tomorrow’s post  “How to avoid becoming a member of the Black underclass by looking at trends.”

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Thank you for reading,

Kisha aka Bougie Black Girl