Depression in Black America

The Chicago Reporter here analyzes census data along with employment surveys to see which geographical areas in the nation have been hit hardest by the downturn in the economy. Looking at geographical areas the census creates called public use microdata areas (PUMAs) here are the Top 10 highest unemployment rates according to 2008 data. Unemployment in the Chicago area as a whole increased from six percent to ten percent between 2008 and 2009 so unemployment in these areas is surely much higher than even these numbers.

1. Detroit (Northeast) 28.5 percent unemployed
2. Chicago (Southside) 23.2
3. Detroit (West Side) 22.6
4. Cleveland (Northeast) 22.0
5. Detroit (Northeast) 21.6
6. St. Louis (North) 21.4
7. Chicago (West side) 20.9
8. Toledo (East, Southeast) 20.3
9. Detroit (Northeast) 19.9
10. Atlanta (west Central) 19.0

It is painfully ironic that the presidency of the first Blackamerican president upon whom so many people placed such great hope has coincided with a Depression in Black America.

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8 Responses to “Depression in Black America”

  1. bingregory Says:

    West side, whoop whoop. How come some PUMAs show up more than once? Detroit’s Northeast is listed three times.

  2. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Says:

    My understanding, possibly wrong was that there were three different PUMA’s, all characterized as being on the Northeast side of Detroit…but I wondered a little about that as well. Can anyone clarify?

  3. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Says:

    I wanted to take a shot at Obama, so I didn’t emphasize this, but it should probably be noted more clearly that the situation in these communities is actually much worse than those numbers woudl indicate, and the situation is probably not even primarily a result of the recent downturn but these communities are in a state of perpetual recession/depression, though they do also go up and down with the larger economy.

  4. bingregory Says:

    You’re right, I dug a little deeper and found the PUMAs are smaller units than the city areas listed. Detroit is made up of 7 PUMAs, the three PUMAs listed for Detroit’s East side are the entirety of the East side. The PUMAs seem to follow municipal boundaries, so if it says Chicago, it means Chicago, not a suburb or half-burb/half-city area. I was a little surprised at the result for Detroit’s West side, because the PUMA on the list was on the whole a more stable area than the other West Side PUMA. But things change I guess, and this is only looking at one statistic, unemployment.

  5. Marc Says:

    I’m not sure how irony plays in here. Tragic, perhaps, but irony? I’m not sure what you expected him to do given the economic situation in Detroit has been building since about 1954. That should not, however, deflate the significance that he holds in the minds of man Blackamericans. I see this quite often from detractors of Obama [which is fair - you needn't like him politically], who, by attacking his impotence or inadequacies, also take cheap shots at a very sensitive psychological issue [while I do see this more often from white anti-Obama constituents, I have also seen and heard it from Blacks as well]. We should not conflate his political aspect with his social-psychological one.

  6. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee Says:

    Marc, It is ironic because there is an expectation that the election of the first Blackamerican President would result in an improvement of the lives of Blackamericans. Since the presidency of Obama has instead coincided with quite bad economic conditions for Blackamericans that is irony, “an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.”
    (a dictionary definition of irony.)

    You are right to imply that it is only ironic in a big picture sense, which is to say contrary to what might have expected of a generic Black president’s election. Of course, by the time of Obama’s election it was well expected that the state of the economy would continue to be bad for at least the first couple of years of his presidency and there was little anyone could do about it.

    It is true also that Presidents in general are limited in what they can do about the economy or the extent to which they can fairly be blamed, but it is nonetheless the largest single factor upon which they are elected. (Despite the hundreds of millions of dolalrs spent campaigning, it is much more relevant to Obama’s victory that the economy was bad by the end of Bush’s administration than anything else). I explicitly indicated in a previous comment that the situations most particularly in these areas is not the result of anything Obama has done, although one would assume that does not absolve him the responsibility of addressing those situations if the residents of those areas are full citizens of the country.

    It is indeed true that for most Blackamericans this reality has not deflated the social-pyschological significance of his election. In fact, I have heard several Blackamerican political activists and even a Congressman on the Tavis Smiley radio show complaining that as they attempt to bring political pressure to bear on Obama to do more to address the Depression conditions in Black America, they are hampered in this effort by Blackamericans who tell them that they should not publicly criticize Obama out of racial solidarity or respect for his social psychological significance.

    Personally, It is not my desire to offend anyone. Still, I am not sure what you are calling for here Marc. There are many people who instill great symbolic and psychological significance in political figures. Many white evangelical Christians attached great importance to George W. Bush as someone who was one of them and he was able to use them as a consistent base of support despite the fact that he did not especially expend political capital on their stated agenda. Such relationships are dysfunctional and problematic (in my view) and calling attention to their problematic nature is a must if one has equal respect for those who hold such views as one does for oneself.

    As I said, I have no desire to needlessly offend anyone and at the end of the day people are definitely free to attach social psychological significance to whomever they wish, whether it is Blackamericans to Barack Obama, or whoever it is out there that obviously loves and personally identifies with Sarah Palin so much. To simply ridicule such people, you are correct, is not the best of human adab and akhlaq. To engage such beliefs and point out the problematic nature of treating politicians as symbols rather than policy makers (which is actually quite common in our society) is actually a sign of respect for people’s intellects and their worth, which I would engage in much more if I actually put much weight in electoral politics at all. Since I don’t, you will find my references to such issues not that frequent. One thing I will occasionally comment on, however, is the incredibly distrurbing type of asabiyah which results either from racial ties or political party ties whereby some people will criticize the other (party or race) when they do something but actually defend one of their own when they do the exact same thing. This is an affront to justice. This can be seen clearly in the reactions of some Blackamericans or Democrats to Obama, whereby they will defend him taking some of the same actions which they would and did certainly criticize George W. Bush for taking.

    Allah knows best.

  7. Marc Says:

    It is ironic because there is an expectation that the election of the first Blackamerican President would result in an improvement of the lives of Blackamericans

    How are you measuring this or coming to this conclusion? While there may have been a few Blackamericans that thought so, was this by and large, the dominant opinion? I would wager no. Instead, I would postulate that most BA’s thought that Obama would have a grim situation on his hands. However, myself included, most were elated at finally seeing the reality of a person of color, and more specifically, a Black person, make it to the highest office. I personally hoped that this may have some small benefit or impact in the minds of young Black children who have grown up in a society dominated by an aesthetic that does not reflect them. We have yet to see the outplay of this as it’s just within a year or so.

    I would caution against making such sweeping arguments without at least acknowledging that there may be dissenting opinions, or that even that argument may be a minority opinion.

    at the end of the day people are definitely free to attach social psychological significance to whomever they wish

    Again, I think you assume all social and psychological realities to be equal. I do not think the constituents of Bush or Palin represent a socially downtrodden or vanquished people. Thus, it is not as simple as being free to choose – there are socio-historical factors at play here that press down on this social actors – a pressure that cannot be emphasized enough.

    One thing I will occasionally comment on, however, is the incredibly distrurbing type of asabiyah which results either from racial ties or political party ties whereby some people will criticize the other (party or race) when they do something but actually defend one of their own when they do the exact same thing

    Are you insinuating that I am guilty of ‘asabiyyah? And if I am, am I also to assume that ‘asabiyyah is always and necessarily a bad thing? I fail to see how my argument is equivalent to a 7th century paradigm of tribalism.

  8. abunooralirlandee Says:

    Marc, I truly appreciate your visiting and commenting but our conversation would benefit more if you would read carefully what I write (I’m sure you would say the same about me with regard to your posts).

    I have already twice in this thread alone pointed out that few would have expected things to be better than this by the time of Obama’s election. Which is why my original comment does not say “It is ironic that Obama’s presidency has resulted…” but said “it is ironic that the election of the first Blackamerican president has coincided with a Great Depression in Black America” note I don’t say “resulted in” but “coincided with” to indicate that they occurred at the same time but not to imply causation.

    Of course not all social-pyschological realities are equal. Which is precisely why their substances must be interrogated rather than just assumed to be healthy or productive. At the end of the day, people will certainly disagree on their relative value.

    I am not insinuating you to be guilty of asabiyyah unless you fit the description of someone who supports Obama in carrying out policies for which you condemned Bush. I am not aware that you do, so I wouldn’t think so.

    Why do you assume asabiyyah to be a 7th century concept? It was most popularly used as I’m sure you know, by Ibn Khaldun in the later part of the 14th century and he believed it to describe a force in human history at all times and places. Of course he did not mean it to be necessarily negative. I did use it with a negative connotation, referring specifically to the negative type of asabiyyah that results when one supports the position of his brother, whether right or wrong. And I think this negative type of asabiyyah is one of the most unfortunate results of the modern political party system, including here in the United States.

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