Where Newsweek Fell Wrong On Black Poverty: One Person’s Opinion

Antonio Moore is a writer, attorney, and producer of the “Freeway: Crack In The System” documentary...

By Ryan Velez

Antonio Moore is a writer, attorney, and producer of the “Freeway: Crack In The System” documentary, and when a recent Newsweek article posted its theories on the issues with Black poverty, he had to speak out. In an article for the Huffington Post, Moore explains exactly where Newsweek went wrong.

“To say a group of African Americans that is 13.3 percent of the population makes up 27 percent of the poor and 42 percent of welfare recipients in America is telling in and of itself of the dire financial state of that group. But digging deeper the analysis Newsweek uses fails to tell the truth about the real story, and that is white America controls almost all of the wealth in this country. White America has 90 percent of the wealth, Black America controls around a mere 2.6%,” Moore explains, shortly after criticizing the article and its author Sam Schwartz for a lack of numbers to support his claims that most of Black America isn’t poor.

“The piece, written by Schwartz builds in a presumption of wealth that is inaccurate on the most basic level, that idea being that most black people aren’t poor or working poor in America. As a result, he sidesteps the real work that needs to be done to address why these people are largely poor, and correct the longstanding policies that keep them that way. From ticketing schemes in Ferguson, Missouri, to the coming Tax Reform bill black poverty is created by systemic mechanisms, not personal choice. After a legacy of building this country through slavery, and being locked out of wealth during Jim Crow the reality is a lack of wealth is baked into the Black American Dream,” he explains. In essence, Schwartz is moving the goal post by not bringing wealth inequality and what makes that possible into the conversation.

He uses a piece he wrote in the past to illustrate the flimsy net worth many Black families have: “When we exclude the family car, we get a somewhat different wealth narrative than the one being told across media platforms nationally. Without the family car, the middle black family has a net worth of $4,160. The middle white American family in contrast, is still worth $140,600. This means, using an accounting model that more accurately excludes the family car, the median white family is worth over 33 times that of the median black family.”

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