To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of the hardships.
-W. E. B. Du Bois
The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

"Poverty is slavery"
African Proverb (Somalia)

Roots of Poverty

Slavery in America is the root of inequality and racism in society leading to segregation and the Jim Crow laws that directly caused the high rates of poverty in the African American community.

Enslaved Blacks
Blacks in poverty are often blamed for the situation they are in. This blame can be seen as early as the American colonial period in the a Pennsylvania Act of 1726 that said "Whereas free Negroes are an idle and slothful people and often prove burdensome to the neighborhood..."

Perpetuation of Poverty In the Black Community

African Americans overwhelmingly exist in poverty in comparison to whites due to discrimination that has limited their economic opportunities and has also "kept them confined geographically to urban ghettos...usually densely populated, where they face barriers that are greater than those encountered by other poor people" (Rowman p. 119)

Black Poverty Statistics

24.3% of Blacks lived in poverty in 2004
this is 2x the national percentage
43% of single parent homes headed by Black women lived in poverty
33.9% of Black children lived in poverty in 2007
compared to 10.6% of white children
The high concentration of poor Blacks in ghettos is directly linked to red lining and housing discrimination. The legal housing segregation that was practiced until civil rights and fair housing acts were passed is the cause of the high segregation of Blacks and whites today.

Imperial Courts Project Housing, Watts, Ca
Single parent households headed by Black women occupy a large portion of the poor. Due to an alarming rate of Black males in prison many women are raising children without fathers and without a much needed second income.


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