BY: John “Hennry” Harris
Chris Rock is one of my favorite comedians because he is not only funny, but is able to use his comedy to address serious social issues in an intelligent way.
Rock was interviewed for the HBO documentary called “The Black List” which addressed the persistent taint that western culture has applied to the word ‘black’.
Rock lives in one of the nation’s richest zip codes in Alpine, New Jersey. The neighborhood is so exclusive because of the price, besides Rock, there are only 3 other Blacks in his neighborhood – Mary J. Blige, Patrick Ewing and Gary Sheffield.
Rock astutely points out that the shortlist contains a Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer, one of the greatest R&B singers of our time and a successful comedian/writer.
Rock then points out that his neighbor, who is a White man, is a dentist. Not the best dentist of his time, he did not invent anything, he is just a dentist and he explains that his story points out to the dynamic that makes America what it is.
In a June 2015 study by Stanford University researchers uncovered that “black and Hispanic families effectively need much higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods.”
On average, Black households making $50,000 a year live in neighborhoods where the median income is $42,579 as opposed to White households earning the same income live in neighborhoods where the median income is $53,000.
At $50K a year the neighborhood affluence gap is roughly 25%. The neighborhood affluence gap changes with income. Incomes at $100,000 a year show a neighborhood affluence gap of 20%.
The number is even worse for poorer families. The neighborhood affluence gap between Black and White households earning $13,000 a year, which is below the poverty line, is a staggering 40%.
In these poor neighborhoods Blacks and Latinos are more likely to live in communities that are mired by underfunded schools, higher crime rates, fewer job opportunities and laundry list of social woes stemming form poverty and inequality.
To put it short, it is harder for people to succeed who live in these neighborhoods. Even today, the Black unemployment rate is more than twice that White unemployment rate which drives home the point that there is a steeper uphill climb.
Interestingly, if Chris Rock was JUST a successful dentist like his White neighbor, statistics show that he probably would not be living in his current neighborhood.
He wouldn’t be successful enough and that is a hard truth to swallow.