- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

As Economy Rebounds Black Families Assess Collateral Damage

Black Voice News, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Apr 09, 2010

Earl Butler lives in Moreno Valleys upper middle class Sunnymead Ranch community. At the familys annual Easter Sunday gathering the atmosphere surrounding the traditional feast of ham and green beans was more like Christmas in April.

Heres to success over Satan and adversity, he said surrounded by his wife Shelia, a home health nurse and two of their college age children.

After being unemployed for 23 months the software engineer found a new job. But the champagne toast was bittersweet.

Butler, 41 is peddling commission- only life insurance, a far cry from his days in corporate hitech.

Earl Butler lives in Moreno Valleys upper middle class Sunnymead Ranch community. At the familys annual Easter Sunday gathering the atmosphere surrounding the traditional feast of ham and green beans was more like Christmas in April.

Heres to success over Satan and adversity, he said surrounded by his wife Shelia, a home health nurse and two of their college age children.

After being unemployed for 23 months the software engineer found a new job. But the champagne toast was bittersweet.

Butler, 41 is peddling commission- only life insurance, a far cry from his days in corporate hitech.

The family income of the Butlers is less than half of what it used to be. Their home mortgage is underwater, they have no savings, no health insurance and the $20,000 nest egg they tucked away for their childrens college education was wiped out on food and other essentials.

Times got so hard that the family began selling its possessions one by one, in a rolling garage sale that lasted six months. In December Butlers oldest son finally escaped the bleak labor market by joining the Army. It feels like a frontal attack on the family. We saved like crazy from the minutes our children were born, said Butler. Then the bottom fell out.

In 2008 the couple filed for divorce but later reconciled. Now Butler isnt sure whether hell be able to help his children to go to college.

Many African American families such as the Butlers upper middle class professionals are suddenly downwardly mobile.

Butler who watched his own father cycle through countless jobs, depression and alcoholism was determined to do better for his own children. He watched his parents struggle to save the familys neighborhood sandwich shop in Oakland as the 1980s recession took hold.

As they spent ever more time at the business, there was less attention for Earl and his older brother, Jamie.

There was a lot of tension and domestic abuse in the house they (his parents) fought over money a lot, he said.

Butler, a good student stayed out of trouble. But his older brother began drinking and smoking marijuana before eventually turning to cocaine, gangs and finally incarceration for armed robbery.

The sandwich shop closed in 1982 and the family moved to Moreno Valley. Butlers father found work installing storm windows while the teenager began working nights at a fast food restaurant to help pay for college.

He earned a bachelors degree in computer science in seven years and worked steadily until 2008.

It was a tremendous impact ..to see how everything my parents worked for could be lost, Butler said.

The Butler family is determined to press on, he declared followed by a rousing chorus of amens and cheers. He admits however, the bitterness and scars will be visible long after this recession is over.

While millions of Americans have experienced hard times during the economic recession, the environment for many African Americans age 45+ and their families has been particularly difficult, this according to a recent AARP look at how Americans age 45 and older are faring in the great recession.

African Americans age 45+ have been forced to make increasingly difficult decisions to cope with this economic downturn decisions that could have serious long-term consequences, according to researchers. A third stopped putting money into a 401(k), IRA or other retirement account, and a quarter prematurely withdrew funds from their retirement nest eggs to pay for living expenses, including mortgage or rent, health care, education expenses, and for other reasons.

More than three in ten have cut back on their medications, and 28% have carried a higher balance on their credit cards during the past 12 months.

The survey, found that over the last 12 months, a third of African Americans 45+ had problems paying rent or mortgage, and 44% had problems paying for essential items, such as food and utilities. Nearly twice as many African Americans 45+ lost a job and almost one in four lost their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Faced with the extraordinary impact of this economy, African Americans 45+ are more likely to turn to family or the community for assistance, and are more likely to help family members and friends cope with financial hardships.

About one in five African Americans 45+ consulted friends or family members about finances. Eighteen percent had a child move in for financial reasons, and 44% helped a child pay bills or expenses. Almost one in five helped a parent pay for basic necessities. African Americans age 45+ were more than twice as likely as all Americans 45+ to seek financial assistance from family, friends, charities and churches.

While some African Americans age 45+ are looking for resources and tools to provide financial information, many may not be aware or are not taking advantage of the accessible resources available to them.

African Americans studied were more likely than the general population to enhance job skills and career training. Thirteen percent have taken training to get a different type of job, and 18% have attended a job fair to help with their career or job search.

Black families are dealing with serious collateral damage says Terrie Williams, a social worker and the author of Black Pain.

Williams has talked prolifically about depression in the Black community and the links between depression and present joblessness rates.

In my practice, I have found this link to be very real. But since the great recession, I am now seeing more African- American men discussing the increasing frustration and the despair they are experiencing. They are frustrated - not only about being laid off or unable to find work - but also about how they are feeling absolutely worthless to their families and to themselves. My patients have the wherewithal to discuss their depression, but what about scores of Black men who are not getting therapy? Who are they consulting? Dr. Johnnie Walker Black? The point is that many of these brothers who are not getting help may in fact turn to alcohol, drugs or other inappropriate and selfdestructive behaviors, said Williams.

The resilience Butler developed in the early 1980s served him well, he says, allowing him to bounce back and land a good job after the 2008 layoff.

Im one of the lucky ones, he said. Butler believes the recessions grip forced many families not just African-Americans to find ways to support each other, figuring out that the most important things are free, and understand the need for both personal responsibility and collective support in a way that people who came of age in the mid-1980's didn't.

Related Articles:

Immigration Reform Activists Keep the Pressure On

Will Immigration Reform Impact the US Labor Market?

Flat Unemployment Rate Masks the Race Gap


Page 1 of 1

-->




Advertisement


ADVERTISEMENT


Just Posted

NAM Coverage

Civil Liberties

Why There Are Words

Aug 10, 2011