African Americans have been part of America for a very long time now. The history of Blacks starts from the expulsion era when they were increasingly unacceptable and were exterminated or partitioned in society. Later they were segregated due to redlining or zoning laws that gave out ghettos, apartheid in schools or de jure school segregation. Later in the mid 20thcentury, the Civil Rights movement was meant to assimilate the two into one society where there was amalgamation or blacks acting white. This has now given birth to pluralism and hence we have black electoral districts (Schaefer 24).
Schaefer (244) notes that there is discrimination to blacks when it comes to home financing - the main reason why African-Americans have failed to accumulate wealth through home buying. In 2004, less than half blacks were home owners as compared to 73% of non-Hispanic Whites. A large number of Blacks concentration in the central cities has increased over the years, equally a growing number of African-Americans that have relocated to suburban areas. On the issue of criminal justice, blacks were said to constitute 39% of inmates but only 4.7% lawyers, 15.7% of police and 28.4% security guards. Studies have shown that blacks are likely to die younger before they reach 65 years, or that they have a less chance of surviving to 45 years (245). In 2005, a reported 24.7% of blacks lived below the poverty line (235).
Legislations like the Fannie Lou Hamer, Coretta Scott King Voting rights Reauthorization and Coretta King signed by President Bush that renewed the voting Rights Act of 1965 that would have expired in 2007. The Acts are seen to have an impact on the future strategies of electing Blacks to office (248). Zoning laws seem to curb development of low or moderate income housing that is known to attract African-Americans (Schaefer 244).
The Current Socio-Economic Status of African-American
Overall, economically the African American has seen a gradual improvement over the past decade. Although there is a major gap between incomes for Blacks and Whites, Blacks’ income has been increasing steadily (and has reached that of Whites as it was 10 years ago). According to sociologists Thomas Shapiro and Melvin Oliver, there is a major difference in wealth patterns especially in owning homes. Most blacks are in debt in terms of assets (Schaefer, 235-236). On the part of education, much has improved from the slavery times to now; nowadays all races are able to share the classroom. Blacks have placed a special importance on education. However, the quality and quality of education for this group is low as compared with that of the Whites especially on such fronts like overcrowded classes, poor counseling, dilapidated school facilities, insensitive teachers resulting in large dropouts of blacks (229). Blacks have another problem with family life resulting from several challenges to family stability. This has resulted in a higher divorce rate than in the rest of America (238-239).
Article 34 Summary
The MBDA, U.S. Department of Commerce
Established in 1969 under the U.S Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) was created to foster and ensure growth of businesses owned by minority groups in the U.S.; the agency offers technical and managerial assistance to help promote the competitiveness of minority owned businesses. According to a report titled Characteristics of minority business and entrepreneur: an analysis of the 2002 survey of business owners, there is an agreement that minority firms are more likely to export their goods as compared to non-minority firms. The firms have an advantage like diverse customer portfolio, or it is more likely to operate franchises. The MBDA agrees that America’s growth and competitiveness globally will increasingly depend on growth and expansion of minority owned businesses. The report further indicates that minority firms have a competitive advantage especially due to language capability, cultural ties and agility due to their size (Kromkowski 114).
Challenges to Minority Firms
The report however notes that the minority firms have unique challenges like access to adequate capital to expand or even start their businesses. For most minority owned firms, access to adequate capital is a big problem. MBDA addresses this challenge by facilitating traditional commercial loans, private equity or government loans. For example in the fiscal year 2006, MBDA managed to procure $1.2 billion and also produced $407 million in financial transactions for minority firms as well as outlining opportunities for minority firms to help their businesses grow (Kromkowski 115).
From the above report, there is the feeling that minority owned firms need to be nurtured by the government if the U.S economy is to grow. Business especially out of the U.S. is largely dependent on the relation with the minorities and with the U.S. increasing the free trade with such partners as Asia, Africa, Latin America or the Caribbean, minority firms will play a big role to secure business.