African American Leadership Forum

Minnesota Apartheid Economic State

Media Statement Concerning Income Disparities Between Minnesotans of African Descent and White Minnesotans

Steven Belton, Interim President, Minneapolis Urban League

Most, if not all, of us would agree that South African apartheid was a horrendous practice—a shameful exaltation, systemization and legalization of white supremacy that exploited, squandered and destroyed countless black lives.

Apartheid is defined as a rigid policy of segregating and economically oppressing the non-white population. A secondary definition is “any system or practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity or caste.”

Well, Minnesota, we have an apartheid problem, and, it gives me no pleasure to say that. Despite our carefully crafted and maintained image of forward thinking government, progressive corporate leadership, generous philanthropic partnerships and active civic engagement on matters of equity, fairness and quality of life, African Americans and African Immigrants in Minnesota live a separate reality where poverty is three times greater than that of white Minnesotans.

Apartheid: Any system or practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity or caste. In Minnesota, black people experience the worst income, housing, education and poverty disparities in the entire country, ranking dead last – 51st – among the states and the District of Columbia when combining household income, home ownership, poverty and educational attainment.

U.S. Census data show African and African American household income in Minnesota dropped 14% between 2013 and 2014 and we were the only racial group in Minnesota to experience a decline in income.  Median income for whites in Minnesota was $64,281 compared to $27,026 for African Americans.  In other words, median white income was 138% higher than African American income.

Black people living in Minnesota are now worse off economically than blacks in Mississippi, a state perennially at the bottom of the fifty-state ranking of socio-economic indicators.

Apartheid: A rigid policy of segregating and economically oppressing the non-white population or any system or practice that separates people according to color, ethnicity or caste. Regardless of whether the de facto apartheid represented by the data results from deliberate policy or unintentional neglect, it is clear Minnesota government, the private and philanthropic sectors and black communities themselves fell asleep at the switch and allowed an array of appalling racial disparities to become the dominant and persistent reality for Minnesotans of African descent.

We are here today to say to our public, private, philanthropic and community leaders, this situation is unacceptable; we are better than this; we can and must eliminate these racial disparities for the good of our common interests; and we have a plan.

 

A final word directed to African and African Americans—we must lead this effort and prepare our communities for employment and business opportunities as they become available.  We must engage every resource at our disposal and remain vigilant to fight the regression of economic parity and move our community forward—one child, family, neighborhood and community at a time. All these measures combined, those outlined by Commissioner Carter, and other efforts underway and that will be developed will go a long way toward ending the shameful maintenance of a de facto state of apartheid in Minnesota.

AALF’s 5 Point Program to Address Economic Inequality <— Click Here

Steven Belton, Interim President, Minneapolis Urban League