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News :: Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare
New Report regarding Racial Inequality in US just published.
by Betsy Leondar-Wright, (617) 423-2148 x113
04 Jan 2006
Press Release from United for a Fair Economy
January 3, 2006 - Embargoed until January 10
NEW REPORT: STALLING THE DREAM
PEOPLE OF COLOR LESS LIKELY TO OWN CARS,
LESS ABLE TO ESCAPE HURRICANES & POVERTY
³There are insufficient funds in the great vaults
of opportunity of this nation.²
-Dr. Martin Luther King, 1963
A new report considers one factor in the shocking racial disparities
revealed by Hurricane Katrina: car ownership.
The report (online at http://www.FairEconomy.org/Stalling, embargoed until
January 10) finds that people of color are considerably more likely to be
left behind in a natural disaster, since fewer of them own cars compared to
whites. In addition, lower rates of car ownership put them at an economic
The report finds that:
· Only 7% of white households, but 24% of black households and 17% of
Latino (Hispanic) households owned no vehicle in 2000.
· In all 11 major cities that have had five or more hurricanes in the
last 100 years (Houston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, St.
Petersburg, Tampa, New York City, Providence, Boston, and New Orleans),
people without cars are disproportionately people of color.
· In the case of a mandatory evacuation order during a disaster, 33% of
Latinos, 27% of African Americans, and 23% of whites say that lack of
transportation would be an obstacle preventing them from evacuating,
according to the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.
· Evacuation planning tends to focus on traffic management for those
with cars and on institutionalized people, not on non-institutionalized
people without vehicles. New Orleans had only one-quarter the number of
buses that would have been needed to evacuate all carless residents.
· In the counties affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in
2005, only 7% of white households have no car, compared with 24% of black,
12% of Native American and 14% of Latino households.
· The stereotype that black people own expensive cars is inaccurate. In
fact, their median car value is half (or less) of whites, according to the
· Eleven percent of African-American families and 21 percent of Latino
families have missed out on medical care because of transportation issues,
compared to only 2 percent of white families, according to the National
Center for Disaster Preparedness.
· The median net worth of white families increased about 6% after
inflation from 2001 to 2004, to $136,000, while the black median stayed
unchanged at $20,000, according to the Federal Reserve.
· Transportation is the second biggest expense for American households,
after housing, according to the Surface Transportation Policy Project.
Overall, there is a correlation between vehicle ownership and economic
prosperity. Cars give access to wider choices of jobs, entrepreneurial
opportunities and healthcare. Many small businesses require a vehicle, such
as gardening and catering.
The report concludes that car ownership is a vital part of the American
Dream. However, the solution is not simply to provide all residents with
their own cars. The report suggests improvements in public transportation
and disaster planning, as well as narrowing the racial wealth divide to
enable more car purchases.
One of the report¹s co-authors, Emma Dixon, went without electricity in her
Louisiana home for a week after Hurricane Katrina. The others, Meizhu Lui
and Betsy Leondar-Wright, are also co-authors of the forthcoming book "The
Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the US Racial Wealth Divide" (New Press,
2006). All work for United for a Fair Economy.
Stalling the Dream is the third annual Martin Luther King Day report from
United for a Fair Economy, following State of the Dream 2004 and 2005.
United for a Fair Economy is a national non-partisan, non-profit
organization that raises awareness of the dangers of growing economic
This work is in the public domain