By Delroy Constantine-Simms
Over the 1990s, there was a 30 percent decline in the black poverty rate, and, in 2000, the black poverty rate reached its lowest point ever recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Along with the decline in the numbers of blacks in poverty, there were significant increases in the numbers of blacks in the middle and upper classes. For example, between 1994 and 2004, the number of black households earning $100,000 or more a year tripled.
The decline in black poverty and the growth of the black middle class has been missed by many. The black legal scholar Derrick Bell, for example, claims that today there is a large racial underclass and precious few blacks in the middle and upper classes. The important black public intellectual, Henry Louis Gates Jr., argues, The 60's generation now seems to be presiding over the permanent entrenchment of a vast black underclass.
The current issue of the Thora Institute's Black Directions report on The Size and Politics of the Black Middle Class shows conclusively that the assertions by Bell and Gates are false. Although black public intellectuals are repeatedly claiming that there is a crisis of bad values and behaviors in black America, there is little evidence to support these claims.
In addition to the positive news about black poverty and the black middle class, the current issue of Black Directions discusses other positive developments in black America around out-of-wedlock births, teenage pregnancy and crime over the 1990s that have been missed by the black pundits.
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