Michael Eric Dyson: Well, I think if you’re upper middle class or middle middle class and strong economically, you’re doing pretty good. You still have racial obstacles and other impediments that need to be dealt with but for the most part you’ll be doing pretty well, but the working poor and the working class black Americans are having a tough time of it and are certainly- arguably even further from the promised land than when Dr. King was alive. And so we have to grapple with that I think. When we look at the report card of America that I try to deliver in the book, you look at the mortgage crisis, the greatest bleed-off of American wealth ever. What is it? Over $77 billion and maybe up as much as 110, $20 billion bled off of black America, the greatest loss of wealth in the history of this country. That’s unacceptable and yet it has occurred with alarming frequency. When we look at health care for the poor, many black people who are poor use the emergency ward as their health maintenance organization, and by the time they grapple with the diseases in the emergency ward those diseases have already progressed and there are many more complications and crises that are afoot. When we look at single-headed households that are dealing with economic downturns, they are even much more vulnerable. When we look at the buffeting forces on the black family, the over-incarceration of young black men, the hyper-incarceration and putting in to jail and in to detention of young black men, which means that poor city schools become warehouses for jails and then ultimately the penitentiary. So when we look at those issues among many of us, persistent inequality in the workplace, the lagging behind economically of black people in terms of wage structure, the segregation and quarantining of working class black people among the most low- among the lowest waged workers in the nation-- When you put all that stuff together poor black people are having a tough time of it and are struggling against the odds.
Recorded on: May 16 2008