How to Restore Blacks' Upward Mobility?

Publication: The Root

Author: Ellis Cose


09/20/2011 - In his jobs speech earlier this month, President Barack Obama spoke eloquently of a time when Americans felt that hard work invariably paid off. We "believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share."

I'm not convinced that most black Americans ever really felt that way. Many of us instead were convinced that the deck was stacked against us, that no matter how hard we worked, we would never get a fair shake. But even in the midst of our deepest despair, we were hopeful for our children. We believed that, whatever we had to go through, life would be better for those who followed.

A major new study has dashed a bucket of cold water on that dream. The report, by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, points out that a third of Americans who are born in the middle class (defined by Pew as those between the 30th and 70th percentiles of the income distribution) lose their middle-class status as adults.

The news for blacks is especially bad, particularly for black men. "White, black and Hispanic women are equally likely to experience downward mobility out of the middle class, but 38 percent of black men fall out, compared with 21 percent of white men," said Pew in its report , entitled Downward Mobility From the Middle Class: Waking Up From the American Dream.

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Read the full article How to Restore Blacks' Upward Mobility? on the Root's Web site.

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