How America Keeps Black People In Poverty

10 min readJun 29, 2020


Many people may say, “there are many black people who are well off”, as a way to claim that black people are not kept in poverty by America.When the British colonized India, they propped up a class of Indians that would act as a buffer. They used this buffer to prevent resistance to colonialism.

Thomas Babington Macaulay a member of the British Empire touched upon how to continue the colonization of India.

“We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.”

The author of The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander made a good point when she stated how even during slavery there were free black people. Although there was a black population that was free, the masses of black people in America were enslaved

As people have put it before, it is the “Illusion of Inclusion.” Due to the small amount of black people that assimilated into white society, it makes it look like black people made it in America. Despite the achievements of a portion of black people the masses of black people are living in poverty

Here are the ways America keeps black people in poverty.

  1. The American Education system

In the words of Dr. King

“As we define and interpret the dynamics of the slum, we see the total pattern of economic exploitation under which Negroes suffer in Chicago and in other northern cities.”

“Education: … slum education is designed to perpetuate the inferior status of slum children and prepare them only for menial jobs in much the same way that the South African apartheid education philosophy does for the African.”

2. Denying Jobs

“ Building Trade Unions: Building trade unions bar Negroes from many employment opportunities which could easily be learned by persons with limited academic training.”

Today, Black people still face systematic job discrimination. A study done by Northwestern University, Harvard University, and the Institute of Research in Norway confirmed that despite equal qualifications, white people were 36% more likely than blacks to receive call backs from jobs.

3. Denying access to wealth/loans

Quotes from Dr. King in the 60's

“Federal Housing Agencies: Federal housing agencies will not insure loans for purchasing real estate in Negro communities and make little money available for financing any low-cost housing or renovation of present housing.”

“Banks and Mortgage Companies: Banks and mortgage companies charge higher interest rates and in many instances even refuse to finance real estate in slum communities and transitional communities, making the area easy prey for loan sharks.”

“Real Estate: Real Estate Boards restrict the supply of housing available to Negroes to the result that Negro families pay an average $20 per month more in rent and receive fewer services that persons in other neighborhoods.”

Today, blacks are still systematically being denied access to this same type of wealth.

Eighty- five percent of real estate appraisers are white. By systematically undervaluing Black neighborhoods, they remove 156 billion dollars from the Black community annually. This means in a seven year span, over one trillion dollars will be stolen from our community. This is one of the main reasons as to why The Road to Zero Wealth report published by Prosperity Now, and the Institute for Policy Studies, states that the median Black wealth is at risk of falling to zero, by 2053. ZERO.

“Slum Landlords: Slum landlords find a most lucrative return on a minimum investment due to inefficient enforcement of city building codes as well as inadequate building codes, overcrowding of living space, and a tax structure on slum property which means the more you let the building run down, the less you pay in taxes.”- Dr. King

Today in 2020, landlords make most of their money off low income residents, while the residents live in inhumane conditions, rodents, insects, toxic mold and lead in their water. These conditions causes multiple diseases.

One of the most crucial stories that shocked me was how Syrian refugees escaped to the inner city of St. Louis and stated how they preferred the refugee camps compared to the living conditions that black people have been living in for decades.

“The Welfare System: The welfare system contributes to the breakdown of family life by making it more difficult to obtain money if the father is in the household and subjects families to a dehumanized existence at the hand of impersonal self-perpetuating bureaucracy.”- Dr King

The welfare system is a form of colonialism, because colonialism destroys the culture of the one being colonized. Systematically destroying families, destroys the culture.

Dr. King stated that, “The only positive thing the larger society saw in the slum was that it was a source of cheap surplus labor in times of economic boom.”

As we know the government started the “War on Drugs” to purposely lock black people up, for many reasons, including for profit. This is no conspiracy theory. This is American history, or shall I say current events, because Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs, still exists today. A member from the Richard Nixon administration, the same administration that started the War On Drugs, admitted that the purpose was to lock up black people in hopes of destroying their community and arresting their civil rights leaders.

The link above contains the transcript which in which the aide says,

“You want to know what this was really all about?”

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night. after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”’

It is historically documented the U.S. government officials knowingly allowed the deadly drug called Crack Cocaine to flood predominantly impoverished black neighborhoods. Crack cocaine destroyed the lives, minds, and neighborhoods of black people all across America. It was confirmed that people affiliated with the CIA were involved in bringing drugs to the black neighborhoods of America.

Once incarcerated, inmates are exploited for their labor. Prison’s are overwhelmingly black due to the racist origins of the War on Drugs. The Prison Industrial Complex is a billion dollar industry and is modern day slavery. The more people are incarcerated, the more money the prisons, (which are run by white people) make. Prisons are also built in poor rural towns, which provides jobs to white people.

Prisoners do labor for little to no pay. Companies such as Whole Foods, Walmart, Microsoft, Target, Mcdonalds, and many more, have all used prison labor. The governor of New York stated that the prison inmates in New York were making over 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, due to the Coronavirus.

More than 20 states are using prison labor to make face masks, hand sanitizer, and medical gowns.

In 2015, after Michael Brown was murdered by Darren Wilson, the FBI investigated the Ferguson Police Department and uncovered a racist scheme. The email of Ferguson city officials exposed that in order to raise revenue in the city, they were going to write excessive fines on the residents in their city, who were predominantly poor black people. This is similar to the unjust taxation, that the colonists protested against.

The police operated as armed tax collectors, patrolling through black neighborhoods extracting wealth from its black citizens. This report also uncovered that it was not just Ferguson. It is nationwide. The studies showed that cities rely more on fines and tickets if the city has more black residents. Feel free to read the links below.

In DC, there is a speed camera placed in a predominantly black neighborhood that makes 26 million dollars a year off predominantly black residents. In 2018, it took in 100 million dollars.

“The Courts: The courts are organized as a tool of the economic structure and political machine. Judges are political appointees and subject to political influence.”-Dr. King

Today we have the “Cash Bail System.”

Around 75 percent of people being held in jail nationwide, have not been convicted of any crime. They are only there because they can’t afford bail. This cash bail system exploits the poor, who are predominately black.

The Political System: “The established political system deprives Negroes of political power and, through patronage and pressure, robs the community of its democratic voice in the name of a Democratic Machine.”

Today the political power overwhelmingly rests in the hands of white men.

“ The City Administration: The city administration refuses to render adequate services to the Negro community. Street cleaning, garbage collection and police protection are offered menially, if at all.”

Self explanatory for today in 2020.

“ The Federal Government: The federal government has yet to initiate a creative attempt to deal with the problems of me life and the results of the past three centuries of slavery and megalopolitan life and segregation on Negroes.”

This is self explanatory, due to the fact that reparations have yet to be paid.

Many people cite Affirmative Actions as a way that America has paid reparations. Affirmative Action is “tokenism.” It only helps a small portion of Black Americans, while the masses are still left out. More importantly, it has been documented that White women are the main beneficiaries of Affirmative Action.

Below is an article showing how affirmative action is still not affective.

In conclusion, even if we make it past all of these hurdles that America places in front of us, there is still a factor of control and white America is still hoarding the wealth.

You go to school, study, work hard and get a degree, the stats say black people are systematically discriminated through hiring.

Then you say “forget it, I will start my own business.”

Black business owners are still systematically denied loans.

You make it past all the racial discrimination from real estate agents and banks and you manage to buy a home. Black homes are undervalued by 156 billion dollars. It is a “racial tax” that robs our community of billions.

Let’s say you are Barrack Obama, you rise to hold one of the highest offices in the world, yet Congress, which is predominately white still uses their political power to block you from trying to pass bills.

Or you gain a platform on one of the biggest media stations in America and try to speak about injustice, yet you still get fired.

These are only a few ways blacks people are systematically kept in poverty.