As you’ve noticed, MLK Day and President Obama’s inauguration have given me pause to reflect on the state of civil rights in our country. Today I heard an interesting perspective and some disturbing facts regarding the subprime mortgage market crash and the affects it has had on black homeowners. The report comes from commentator Amelia Tyagi on American Public Media’s Marketplace:
As African Americans celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, a disproportionate number of them are struggling to avoid foreclosures on their homes. Commentator Amelia Tyagi says we should examine the practices that led many of them into this situation.
Listen to the January 20, 2009 Marketplace here or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes. Tyagi’s piece appears at approximately the 14:42 mark.
African Americans are two and a half times more likely to be in foreclosure than their white counterparts.
Early in the 2008 race for the presidency, prior to Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s speeches on race, I was very concerned that we would have a popular black leader who only wanted everyone to forget that he is black. My fears were in error. Yet I don’t expect President Obama to be a civil rights leader. I expect him to support a fight for expanded civil rights, I expect him to facilitate the movement, but not to lead it. President Obama, a popularly elected executive of a democratic republic must unite. Like he has said, his task is diplomacy, and appropriately so.
Now, as the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King urged us in “A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations,” we must celebrate our progress, but we must also never be satisfied with less than the total equality that we all share in God’s eyes.
We need leaders to lead this fight; a fight that must take place in order for true equality to be achieved. To fuel our mission we need writers to write these stories. We need people to talk about the fight for civil rights that is happening now. We need take the issue of civil rights out of history books (as if it were some static era that sprang up and then disappeared) and put it back where it belongs–in 2009.
President Obama, will you help us?
Let’s take the responsibility, let’s do our part. We have a president who’ll support us if we make this our issue. Let’s take this opportunity.
“…nobody thinks of [the foreclosures on black homeowners] as a civil rights issue, but maybe they should.”