September 2, 2019
There are many ways in which racism is enacted that are silent and visible. However, when we understand, we can follow the threads and connect the dots.
Salaries: According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are serious racial, financial disparities. “Based on CE data, combined from 2010 to 2012, the average pretax income for the total U.S. population was $63,935, annually. “However, during the same time period, “more than 35 percent of Black households’ pretax income falls between $12,500 and $37,499.”
Rent: It is recommended that renters not spend more than 30% of their income on rent. That’s around $300 per month for a household making $12,500 a year and around $930. Per month for a family making $37,499. As an employer once said in Weston, MA, “No, I don’t pay coloreds as much as I pay Whites. I want to make sure that they can’t afford to live in my neighborhood.” True story!
According to CBSNews, housing rents are now at an all-time high of $1,400.+ Per month, which means that the families with the incomes quoted above can not afford a place to live. There are government vouchers, but the housing market often discriminates against renters with vouchers. They often hike the price of the rent or refuse to rent to voucher holders altogether. If people were paid by their labor and not the color of their skin, we would not need vouchers. We also tend to blame people for not being able to afford to take financial care of themselves by buying life insurance, not being able to buy a car, or paying for their burial plots.
Good credit score: These scores are based on your ability to pay your bills on time, and keep your debt at no more than 30% of your income. As you can see from the numbers above, Blacks and people of color make between one fifth to one half the national average pretax income. Their inability to pay is not reflected in the cost of food, clothing, or as you saw above, rent.
More often than not, people of color are the last hired and first fired. They pay the highest interest rates on loans, car insurance, and more. They usually, have the lowest amounts of savings and therefore earn the lowest interest rates on their money. Moreover, credit scores are used to determine deposits such as home rental, insurance rates, and even utilities, such as the electric bill, the cell phone, or internet: the lower your credit score, the larger your deposit.
Credit scores are also used in hiring. Employers feel the freedom to delve into your credit score to determine if you are worthy of making more than 45K a year. They use your financial records to determine your character and general reputation. No consideration is given to the fact that the odds are set against Blacks and people of color through the pay-scale system. So, while people of color earn less, food, housing, and clothing are priced the same for all. One would say equal. But equality is not equity.
Live within your means: Given the above numbers, one would argue that “living within your means” actually means, don’t have a place to live, opt for malnutrition, or no food at all, and forget about getting an education. Nothing is random here. One’s salary, credit score, rent, interest rates… area all connected, systemic, and institutional.
Milagros Phillips, AKA, the Race Healer, has been doing healing racism work for more than 25 years. She develops and facilitates seminars, is a TEDx presenter, and has authored three books on race.