Monday, January 28, 2008

60 Minutes Misses Black Carcasses for the Forest

This past Sunday 60 Minutes featured a segment called House Of Cards: The Mortgage Mess. "60 Minutes" Reports On How The Subprime Loan Crisis Is Shaking Markets Worldwide.

Click here to play video.

I was appalled by the way that 60 Minutes failed to point out that this crisis is responsible for the biggest loss of wealth for African Americans in modern US history.
    "A startling new report has predicted the subprime mortgage crisis will cause people of color to lose up to $213 billion, leading to the greatest loss of wealth in modern U.S. history. The figure appears in a new report from United for a Fair Economy called “Foreclosed: The State of the Dream 2008.” The group accuses mortgage lenders of deliberately targeting the poor and people of color with high-cost loans."
The subprime crisis is hitting hardest in black and urban neighborhoods and destroying the wealth of current and future generations of blacks who might become homeowners. Owning a home has traditionally been a way to achieve financial parity in this country.

Also, 60 Minutes fails to point out the structural problems inherent with a system where 1 out 4 subprime loans are expected to go into foreclosure.
    "The latest statistics show US foreclosure filings nearly doubled in October from the same month last year. Nearly 225,000 foreclosure filings were reported last month, a 94% spike over October of 2006. And economists project the figures will only get worse in 2008, when some two million homeowners potentially face foreclosure when their adjustable-rate mortgages reset at higher rates.

    African American and Latino homeowners have been particularly hard hit. A recent study by ACORN found that upper-income African Americans and Latinos were more than three times as likely as upper-income whites to have a high-cost loan."

I was appalled that this aspect of the crisis was never even given a mention and the emphasis was almost wholly on the loss in the global markets by speculators who were duped by Wall Street hucksters selling off the American Dream. The American Dream is worth just pennies on the dollar, under the inattentive gaze of the Bush administration, and as a result of the deregulation that began with the Carter administration; steamrolled with the election of Ronald Reagan and continued into the Clinton years and beyond. Reagan sure "changed the trajectory of America" and not for the better!

One troubling aspect of the piece was the racial dichotomy. My concern is for the unfair characterization of the black couple interviewed about their subprime mortgage. Whether it was intentional or not an unfair comparison was made. That the "dumb" couple who just did not understand the terms of their mortgage was the black couple and that the "savvy" couple who did understand, yet felt justified in "walking away" from the terms... seemed quite a stark comparison. Couldn't the 60 Minutes producers do better than that? It is an outrage that this is their idea of fair, unbiased reporting, if that was what they intended.

60 Minutes represents that there is no racial divide by ignoring the racial aspects of the subprime crisis. They did so by ignoring the people that it hits hardest. Then, to add insult to injury they present a false dichotomy with obvious racial overtones.

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