Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Race Tax

The race tax is alive and well in Bush's America according to a story in today's news. African Americans pay higher car loan rates than whites. Today's AP story cited a study by the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances. For new cars is 7 percent as compared to 5 percent for whites. Not only that, but Blacks were "more likely than auto buyers in general to have auto loan rates higher than 15 percent." And to top it off for used cars, 27 percent of African Americans were three times as likely to have rates higher than whites. Nineteen percent of Latinos had used car rates of higher than 15 percent.

If you are Black and poor, you pay a hell of lot more. It never stops. When going through my mother's mail several months ago, I discovered a small check from Prudential Life Insurance. The check was part of settlement of a class-action suit brought against several insurance companies for overcharging African Americans. In this case, the policy had been purchased many decades ago by my grandmother.

This has been a long-standing racist corporate policy as LeAnna Jackson wrote in Black Enterprise in 2002:

"The practice of charging African Americans as much as 35% more for life insurance than white policyholders is not a new one. Beginning in the 1930s, many of our parents and grandparents unknowingly purchased policies that were often coded 'substandard' and based on mortality tables that showed them to have shorter life expectancies. They were charged higher rates."

The AP story seemed optimistic that such practices would likely disappear as a result of lawsuit settlements challenging the practices. But as the life insurance cases suggest, that's unlikely so long as capitalists can get away with racist rip-offs. The pervasive menace of institutionalized racism is alive and well in the US. Why? Simply put, it's profitable.

--Joe Sims

No comments: