Strength in Queens, NY
So I received an email today saying that the incomes of Black families in Queens has surpassed that of White families in the borough as reported by NY Times writer Sam Roberts. The article mainly focuses on the southeast area of Queens, a neighborhood I am very familiar with and so I am glad to see that the people of the neighborhood are starting to move on up. My general point in this issue is that we need to see more of this across the US. More success in black neighborhoods and less negativity because in this world no one is going to hand anything to you and you MUST work for your success and we cannot blame our lack of progress on another person. Here is the article from the NY Times for you all to see.
Black Incomes Surpass Whites in Queens
Across the country, the income gap between blacks and whites remains wide, and nowhere more so than in Manhattan. But just a river away, a very different story is unfolding.
In Queens, the median income among black households, nearing $52,000 a year, has surpassed that of whites in 2005, an analysis of new census data shows. No other county in the country with a population over 65,000 can make that claim. The gains among blacks in Queens, the city’s quintessential middle-class borough, were driven largely by the growth of two-parent families and the successes of immigrants from the West Indies. Many live in tidy homes in verdant enclaves like Cambria Heights, Rosedale and Laurelton, just west of the Cross Island Parkway and the border with Nassau County.
David Veron, a 45-year-old lawyer, is one of them. He estimates that the house in St. Albans that he bought with his wife, Nitchel, three years ago for about $320,000 has nearly doubled in value since they renovated it. Two-family homes priced at $600,000 and more seem to be sprouting on every vacant lot, he says.
“Southeast Queens, especially, had a heavy influx of West Indian folks in the late 80’s and early 90’s,” said Mr. Veron, who, like his 31-year-old wife, was born on the island of Jamaica. “Those individuals came here to pursue an opportunity, and part of that opportunity was an education,” he said. “A large percentage are college graduates. We’re now maturing and reaching the peak of our earning capacity.”
Richard P. Nathan, co-director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, called Queens “the flip side of the underclass.”
“It really is the best illustration that the stereotype of blacks living in dangerous, concentrated, poor, slum, urban neighborhoods is misleading and doesn’t predominate,” he said.
Andrew A. Beveridge, a Queens College demographer who analyzed results of the Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey, released in August, for The New York Times, said of the trend: “It started in the early 1990’s, and now it’s consolidated. They’re married-couple families living the American dream in southeast Queens.”
In 1994, an analysis for The Times found that in some categories, the median income of black households in Queens was slightly higher than that of whites — a milestone in itself. By 2000, whites had pulled slightly ahead. But blacks have since rebounded.
The only other places where black household income is higher than among whites are much smaller than Queens, like Mount Vernon in Westchester, Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Brockton, Mass.; and Rialto, Calif. Most of the others also have relatively few blacks or are poor.
But Queens is unique not only because it is home to about two million people, but also because both blacks and whites there make more than the national median income, about $46,000.
Even as blacks have surged ahead of whites in Queens, over all they have fallen behind in Manhattan. With the middle class there shrinking, those remaining are largely either the wealthy, who are predominantly white, or the poor, who are mostly black and Hispanic, the new census data shows.
Median income among blacks in Manhattan was $28,116, compared with $86,494 among whites, the widest gap of any large county in the country.
In contrast, the middle-class black neighborhoods of Queens evoke the “zones of emergence” that nurtured economically rising European immigrants a century ago, experts say. “It’s how the Irish, the Italians, the Jews got out of the slums,” Professor Nathan said.
Despite the economic progress among blacks in Queens, income gaps still endure within the borough’s black community, where immigrants, mostly from the Caribbean, are generally doing better than American-born blacks.
“Racism and the lack of opportunity created a big gap and kind of put us at a deeper disadvantage,” said Steven Dennison, an American-born black resident of Springfield Gardens.
Mr. Dennison, a 49-year-old electrical contractor, has four children. One is getting her doctoral degree; another will graduate from college this school year. “It starts with the school system,” Mr. Dennison said.
Mr. Vernon, the lawyer from Jamaica, said: “It’s just that the people who left the Caribbean to come here are self-starters. It only stands to reason they would be more aggressive in pursuing their goals. And that creates a separation.”
Housing patterns do, too. While blacks make more than whites — even those in the borough’s wealthiest neighborhoods, including Douglaston — they account for fewer than 1 in 20 residents in some of those communities. And among blacks themselves, there are disparities, depending on where they live.
According to the latest analysis, black households in Queens reported a median income of $51,836 compared with $50,960 for non-Hispanic whites (and $52,998 for Asians and $43,927 among Hispanic people).
Among married couples in Queens, the gap was even greater: $78,070 among blacks, higher than any other racial or ethnic group, and $74,503 among whites.
Hector Ricketts, 50, lives with his wife, Opal, a legal secretary, and their three children in Rosedale. A Jamaican immigrant, he has a master’s degree in health care administration, but after he was laid off more than a decade ago he realized that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He established a commuter van service.
“When immigrants come here, they’re not accustomed to social programs,” he said, “and when they see opportunities they had no access to — tuition or academic or practical training — they are God-sent, and they use those programs to build themselves and move forward.”
Immigrants helped propel the gains among blacks. The median income of foreign-born black households was $61,151, compared with $45,864 for American-born blacks. The disparity was even more pronounced among black married couples.
The median for married black immigrants was $84,338, nearly as much as for native-born white couples. For married American-born blacks, it was $70,324.
One reason for the shifting income pattern is that some wealthier whites have moved away.
“As non-Hispanic whites have gotten richer, they have left Queens for the Long Island suburbs, leaving behind just middle-class whites,” said Professor Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University. “Since home ownership is easier for whites than blacks in the suburbs — mortgages are easier to get for whites — the middle-class whites left in Queens have been relatively poor. Middle-class black families have had a harder time buying homes in the Long Island suburbs, so that blacks that remain in Queens are relatively affluent.”
The white median also appeared to have been depressed slightly by the disproportionate number of elderly whites on fixed incomes.
But even among the elderly, blacks fared better. Black households headed by a person older than 65 reported a median income of $35,977, compared with $28,232 for white households.
Lloyd Hicks, 77, who moved to Cambria Heights from Harlem in 1959, used to run a freight-forwarding business near Kennedy Airport. His wife, Elvira, 71, was a teacher. Both were born in New York City, but have roots in Trinidad. He has a bachelor’s degree in business. She has a master’s in education.
“Education was always something the families from the islands thought the children should have,” Mr. Hicks said.
In addition to the larger share of whites who are elderly, said Andrew Hacker, a Queens College political scientist, “black Queens families usually need two earners to get to parity with working whites.”
Kenneth C. Holder, 46, a former prosecutor who was elected to a Civil Court judgeship last year, was born in London of Jamaican and Guyanese parents and grew up in Laurelton. His wife, Sharon, who is Guyanese, is a secretary at a Manhattan law firm. They own a home in Rosedale, where they live with their three sons.
“Queens has a lot of good places to live; I could move, but why?” Mr. Holder said. “There are quite a number of two-parent households and a lot of ancillary services available for youth, put up by organized block associations and churches, like any middle-class area.”
In smaller categories, the numbers become less precise. Still, for households headed by a man, median income was $61,151 for blacks and $54,537 for whites. Among households headed by a woman, the black and white medians were the same: $50,960.
Of the more than 800,000 households in Queens, according to the Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey, about 39 percent are white, 23 percent are Hispanic, 18 percent are Asian, and 17 percent are black — suggesting multiple hues rather than monotone black and white.
“It is wrong to say that America is ‘fast becoming two nations’ the way the Kerner Commission did,” said Professor Nathan, who was the research director for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in 1968 and disagreed with its conclusion. “It might be, though, that it was more true then than it is now.”