In the words of Kane Kinnebrew III, Black History Month is often spent mainly focusing on historic achievements. But what about the accomplishments of today’s African Americans? Despite how the media often portrays the black community in a bubble—or from one extreme to another—it’s time that we recognize the progress we’ve made in recent years, not just in the past. This is the first of what I hope will be many Black History Month report cards.
Number of black millionaires
Oprah Winfrey is richest black female billionaire and is one of only six black billionaires in the world. All other five are outside of the U.S.
How many black middle-class families?
Ever since President Obama has taken office, there has been a lot of debate about what constitutes a middle-class family. I think it’s safe to say that if your household makes between $50,000 and $150,000, your family is considered middle-class nowadays. Since that is the case, 30% of black families fall in that category, according to the most recent census figures. Compare that with 43% of white families, 46% of Asian families and 33% of Latino families.
Number of black-owned business
From 2002 to 2007, the number of black-owned businesses reached 1.9 million and they raked in $137.5 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. Critics will still note that 1.8 million of those black-owned businesses are sole proprietors with no employees.
Buying power of black Americans
According to Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)’s 2011 “State of the African-American Consumer” report, it was projected that black buying power will reach $1.1 trillion by the year 2015.
If you want to know how influential black spending habits are, check out this fun fact: African-Americans are a driving force for popular culture. 73% of whites and 67% of Latinos believe blacks influence mainstream American culture.
Here’s another fun fact about the buying power of blacks: Black people buy more hand and body lotion at a rate of 54% higher than the general population (you know we don’t like being ashy!).
Number of registered black voters
According to the census, the country saw an increase in black voters from 10 percent of the total electorate in 2006 to 12 percent in the 2010 congressional election.
Average income of African Americans
The annual median income of black households actually declined by 2.7% from 2010 to 2011, according to census figures.The median income for white families also declined during the same period while the numbers for Asian and Hispanic households didn’t change.
Number of black-owned banks
down from 54 in 1994, according to the FDIC
Physical health of black people
In terms of the spread of HIV and cancer, there is some good news to report. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for the first time, the rate of new HIV infections among black women declined between 2008 and 2010.
A recent report also found that cancer rates among blacks in the United States are on the decline, especially among black men.
Still, blacks continue to be more likely to die of cancer than whites.
Even more alarming, heart disease remains leading cause of death of all Americans. African Americans have the highest death rates due to heart disease and stroke. In particular, black adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attack and stroke deaths than whites.