Reports seem to show that the economic crisis hurts some racial groups far more than others. Is the recession racist?
That, of course, is a really stupid question. (I wrote it myself, thank you very much.) But apparently we can’t get enough of reports examining the recession’s impact along various racial lines. (Apparently we can’t get enough of creating dumb new words too, like “racession.” I came up with that myself, thank you very much.)
What group, all things considered, is looking pretty good during the “racession”? Asians, as USA Today reports:
The recession has been brutal for just about every segment of the population, but though the unemployment rate for Asian Americans has been inching upward, it has been far lower than the rates for whites, blacks, Hispanics or the nation as a whole. Among those groups, Asian Americans have had the lowest jobless rate every month since 2000, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking monthly unemployment among Asians.
The unemployment gap — 7.5% for Asians in October, compared with 10.2% nationwide — stems from a combination of education benchmarks and cultural traditions that foster family support when someone is out of work, researchers say.
Meanwhile, Mexicans in the U.S. are experiencing such dire straits that the normal script has been flipped: Their relatives still in Mexico are sending money to them in the U.S., rather than the other way around. Mexican families are selling cows and pooling together pesos to periodically send $20 or $50 northward to friends and relatives who cannot find work. Per the NY Times:
Unemployment has hit migrant communities in the United States so hard that a startling new phenomenon has been detected: instead of receiving remittances from relatives in the richest country on earth, some down-and-out Mexican families are scraping together what they can to support their unemployed loved ones in the United States.
The Times also has a story about how the recession—which has been called “the great leveler”—has brought African Americans and whites together with a new sense of sympathy and understanding. At least in one county in Georgia, that is:
Blacks and whites have encountered one another in increasing numbers recently in the crowded waiting rooms of the welfare office and at the food pantry, where many of both races have ventured for the first time. Struggling black-owned businesses are attracting the attention of white patrons. Neighbors are commiserating across racial lines…
Statistics also suggest that the recession’s burden is falling with similar force on both races. In June 2006, 55 percent of the families receiving food stamps were black, and 44 percent were white. Those percentages remain the same today, although the size of each group has increased by about 50 percent.
Of course, the situation is much too complicated to say that the recession hurts or helps a specific individual because of his or her race. One’s education, experience, skills, and job-hunting and networking strategies are key, along with the state of the local economy. And, for what it’s worth, no one racial group could really be described as “thriving” right now.
Isn’t that just a nice steaming bowl of consolation?
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