Justice for African Americans was challenged “on every front” in the past year according to a report released Thursday — especially in terms of accountability for police misconduct, erosion of voting rights and widening economic gaps.
“Simply put, the state of Black America is in crisis,” said the report, “State of Black America,” released on Thursday by the National Urban League, a civil rights organization which also included Latinos in its evaluation of equality in the United States.
The 39th edition of the annual publication comes after a series of police killings of unarmed black men over the past year. Their deaths prompted nationwide protests that have elevated the topic of racism and discriminatory policing to the level of a national conversation.
“Few times in a nation’s history is its collective conscience shocked and awakened across racial, economic, generational and even ideological lines as ours has been over the past year,” Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said in a press release. “We are in that moment, and as long as justice is challenged on any front, we will keep pushing on every front.”
“The world watched as nonindictments of the police officers responsible for the deaths of unarmed black males — including Eric Garner, Michael Brown and John Crawford — signaled that police accountability for taking black lives was reaching a modern-day low,” the report said.
In response, activists and organizations across the country called for reforms in the justice system. A Department of Justice investigation into the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri after Brown’s killing found that racial bias against blacks was endemic among law enforcement and the city’s courts.
Besides being disproportionately targeted by police, African-Americans witnessed the erosion of voting rights in some states in 2014. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in comments in Selma, Alabama, earlier this month to commemorate the 1965 voting rights march, said that protections gained by the civil rights movement are “under siege.”
“Fair and free access to the franchise is still, in some areas, under siege,” Holder said. “Shortly after the historic election of President [Barack] Obama in 2008, numerous states and jurisdictions attempted to impose rules and laws that had the effect of restricting American’s opportunities to vote — particularly and disproportionately communities of color.”
The report contains the organization's equality index, which measures "the share of the pie that African Americans and Latinos get," according to the report. "Whites are used as the benchmark because the history of race in America has created advantages for whites that continue to persist in many of the outcomes being measured."
The index shows that the black median household income is about 60 percent of that for whites: $34,815 versus $57,684. Latino median household income is 72 percent of that for whites: $41,508 versus $57,684.
It added that African Americans and Latinos are twice as likely to live in poverty as whites.
Blacks have a median wealth of $6,314, compared with whites’ $110,500, according to the report. Latinos have a median wealth of $7,683.
“On average, larger gaps were present in states with large urban areas that are home to large minority populations living in highly segregated neighborhoods with high rates of concentrated high poverty,” the report said.
Overall, the equality index for 2015 showed that quality of life for black Americans was 72.2 percent equal to that of white Americans. For Latinos, their quality of life is 77.7 percent of white Americans.