You’ve Got Me Feeling Emotions

Unless you were purposely ignoring this issue, there is a marked rise in Asian related hate crimes starting in 2020 and continuing with the latest tragedy of a 21-year old White terrorist in Atlanta who killed 8 people, 6 of whom were of Asian women. Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased 149%, first spiking in March and April when Covid-19 began its spread. As a Black American woman, I can definitely empathize with Asian Americans. I also know that the problem is white American terrorists. If American would address their terrorist population and treat them as such we can begin to address these issues of hate against people of color. This country has a home grown deeply racist contingent that continues to terrorize minority populations in this country. Until that is acknowledged, I fear that no real progress will be made.

Race Tax

Dorothy Brown, a Asa Griggs Candler professor of law at Emory University has written a very interesting new book, titled The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—and How We Can Fix It.  The Tax System! It can be so exhausting to be Black. At any rate, Brown’s book is based on years of research and her career as a tax attorney, investment banker, George H. W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and law professor. Brown concludes that generations of lawmakers have optimized the system for White people with the result that in the U.S.’s supposedly progressive and race-neutral tax code, Black people end up paying more than White people with the same incomes. Some examples of this are:

Joint Filing: Brown notes that Black Americans are more likely to be single, and if they’re married, it’s more likely both spouses will be working. So how is this racially bias? In 1913 when the tax code was formed marital status was not taken into consideration. In 1930, however, “a rich White shipbuilder named Henry Seaborn persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to lower his tax bill by imputing half his income to his wife. Congress eventually went along, and ever since, couples with only one high earner have paid less. Brown realized this policy meant higher tax bills for her parents: The tax code essentially treats a plumber and a nurse who are paying for child care and commuting expenses with after-tax dollars the same or worse than it does a banker earning their combined salaries whose spouse stays home with the kids.”

Mortgage tax credit: Brown points out that “interest paid on mortgages is deductible, but there’s no comparable perk for renters, who are disproportionately Black. Also, White homeowners tend to pocket gains upon resale, which are largely tax-free. In contrast, Black homeowners are very likely to lose money on their investment, because homes don’t usually appreciate much in diverse neighborhoods that are shunned by White buyers. And losses aren’t tax-deductible.”

Student Loans Interest tax credit: “According to Federal Reserve data from 2019, 30% of Black, non-Hispanic households had student loans, compared with 20% for White, non-Hispanic households. Here, too, tax policy adds insult to injury. While homeowners can usually deduct all their mortgage interest, student-loan holders can only deduct $2,500—or zero if their income exceeds $85,000 a year.”

401(k) tax incentives: The tax incentives for “401(k)s and other types of retirement savings plans add up to more than a quarter trillion dollars per year yet, only about half of U.S. workers have a retirement account, and they’re disproportionately White. Meanwhile, Black people are far more likely to have jobs that fail to provide 401(k)s and other corporate benefits, such as health care and flexible spending accounts, that are heavily subsidized by the tax code.”

Bloomberg Businessweek: A Tax Code Optimized for White Wealth Leaves Black Americans Behind Brown is not saying that she thinks the IRS sat down and said let’s make Black American’s pay more. But in this instance she is saying the intent doesn’t matter because the effect is that Black Americans making the same as White Americans pay more in taxes. That’s it. And it should be addressed especially if the country is serious about closing the wealth gap. All economic issues must be addressed to have the best chance of closing that gap. This is one angle, I had not thought about before but find very interesting. 

Tenant, Bye 

Congress has allocated about $50 billion for rental assistance to prevent a surge in evictions. The support is also for landlords who have to make mortgage payments. Yet, many building owners are rejecting the help saying it comes with too many strings attached. Those strings: “preventing them from removing problematic tenants or compelling them to turn over sensitive financial information to government agencies or contractors.” As of today, the national ban on most evictions expires March 31. So this could be costly for thousands of renters. For example, “in Houston, a nonprofit charged with administering pandemic rental assistance last year said more than 5,600 households who applied for money had a landlord who refused to take it. In Boston, one tenant attorney said at least 20% of his current cases involve a landlord who refused the funds.” WSJ: Why Some Landlords Don’t Want Any of the $50 Billion in Rent Assistance 

Black Hollywood

A report was recently released by McKinsey &Co, a research firm that found that black-led projects have been underfunded and undervalued.  Well Duh! But it also says that Hollywood is leaving $10 Billion, with a B, on the table by not addressing its racial inequities. Don’t worry Tyler Perry got at least one of them billions. 

“When it comes to the box office, these films are often extremely profitable. Marvel’s “Black Panther” made $1.3 billion worldwide in 2018. And even smaller films like “Get Out” — which was made for less than $5 million — brought in $225 million in ticket sales.  Despite this, Black talent is underrepresented both onscreen and off — particularly in positions of creative control. According to the McKinsey study, less than 6% of writers, directors and producers working on films released from 2015 to 2019 were Black. McKinsey also identified almost 40 hidden barriers that Black people in Hollywood regularly encounter throughout the process of getting a project made — including their pitches getting shelved, smaller production budgets, and stereotypes on what kinds of Black stories moviegoers want to see.” Newsy: Hollywood Losing Out On Revenue By Undervaluing Black Projects  We’ve only been telling them this for years, yet Hollowood remains largely the same and they often revert back to their white comfort zones. Try something different this time! 

Mr. West, Mr. West

Put some respect on his name. Kanye West is now the richest Black man in U.S. History according to People magazine. He hit Forbes billionaire list last year powered by his sneaker and apparel brand Yeezy which is currently valued at $4.7 billion by UBS Group AG.  The Yeezy brand also signed a partnership deal with Adidas and Gap estimated to be worth $970 million. He has a reported $122 million in cash and stock, his music catalog worth #110 million, and $1.7 billion in other asset which include a piece of Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS line. Entrepreneur: Kanye West Is Now the Richest Black Man in American History With a Net Worth of More Than $6 Billion