New York Times reports on decline in black wealth in Memphis

The New York Times is running on Monday's front page a long story focusing on the decline of African-American wealth in Memphis, a piece that dovetails well with Wendi C. Thomas' Sunday Viewpoint essay on the wealth gap afflicting black women.

Most of what the Times story covers will be familiar to Memphians; the story goes in depth into the lawsuit by Memphis and Shelby County against Wells Fargo, which they accuse of marketing toxic loans to black home buyers. And the Times story repeats one fact that Wendi mentioned in her Sunday piece: that for every dollar of wealth a white family has, a black family has only 16 cents. However, there was one particularly striking statistic that I had not seen reported around here:

The median income of black homeowners in Memphis rose steadily until five or six years ago. Now it has receded to a level below that of 1990 -- and roughly half that of white Memphis homeowners, according to an analysis conducted by Queens College Sociology Department for The New York Times.

19 Comments

Sad and true.

Someday I'll understand why the national media, but particularly the NYT, can't (or won't) write anything positive about Memphis. History is replete with examples of the national papers painting Memphis in the worst possible light (the only contrary example I can remember, recently, was the NYT's article about Memphis' night life---WHOOPEE!).

That said, the article did a good, if unfortunate, job of focusing on a substantial source of misery for black homeowners (and for blacks in general) in Memphis. I think a major part of the problem (other than reverse redlining) for the decline in blacks' economic quality of life was Herenton's loss of interest in the last several years of his tenure in the well-being of his black constituents

Interesting article. I can't disagree - the media deserves its share of the blame for piling on Memphis, but we are such an easy target. At some point we've got to determine to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and be accountable to what we know better. Stop looking for quick fixes and silver bullets and go back to the basics - hard work and a solid planning.

I was talking with a guy who works with the Memphis Work Investment Network and he was telling me about the job industry in Memphis; distribution was #1, medical/biomedical technology was #2 or 3 and I can't remember the other in that slot, and #4 was tourism. I don't think many Memphians are aware that tourism has such a prominent spot in our economy with the large negative sentiment that there is toward things tourism-related like Elvis, the prospect of Bass Pro Shops and the need for a competitive Convention Center. My point is that we have a lot of resources here that are underdeveloped, and we Memphians need to work on making our region more competitive and desirable. Leadership with the foolish lack of insight to think that a show like 'The First 48' "makes Memphis look bad" is part of the problem; we have leaders coming to work equipped with shovels to do a job that requires heavy machinery.

We'll make it through this, but if we are to survive, and even thrive, we have to shed the victims mindset first, decide that we are the ones who are responsible for ourselves and govern ourselves accordingly secondly, and stay the course in support of our own area while we are in the process of getting there!

Did they actually talk to any homeowners who signed the mortgage with Wells Fargo? Did they asked them WHY IN THE WORLD they did this? Did they ask why they didn't go to Regions, First TN, Sun Trust or Trustmark to get the loan? Probably because they wouldn't qualify for a loan. Look, the black community has got to educate themselves. It is very frustrating on Wells Fargo's part that they do this kind of thing. People have to get educated. If the black community ever gets to the point where they are college educated and along with the educated white community, this town could sore. The sky would be the limit.

First of all, white people were the victims of predatory loans, as well. Second, what is it you don't understand about the term "predatory?" Do you understand it is a form of fraud? The FBI does: http://www.fbi.gov/hq/mortgage_fraud.htm So do several other government agencies. Do you understand that you can be a victim of fraud without being blamed for it? I wonder.

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That's great.very helpful,thanks a lot

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