Emergency manager appointments reflect growing inequality, writes Farley

January 22, 2014

In a Bridge Magazine editorial, Reynolds Farley explains that the pattern of where the state has taken control from local officials highlights the persistent racial income gap in Michigan. He notes that the locations that have seen emergency managers or consent agreements for the municipality as a whole or the school district are all predominantly African American. Farley contends that this trend is related to the decline in the average economic status of Michigan's black population in the last 30 years, which stands in contrast to historic racial progress in the same period.

Farley provides examples of the increased black-white economic gap, including declines in real per capita earnings and homeownership for black adults, as well as an increase in percent of black children living in households below the poverty line. He also offers potential areas of focus to reverse the downward slide into emergency-manager status for many of Michigan's largely black communities. Summarizing the current situation in Michigan, Farley states:

"A report about racial change in Michigan should laud substantial achievements. African Americans can, pretty much, live where they wish, and pursue prestigious occupations that were closed to their parents. But for much of Michigan's black population, employment opportunities are fewer, hours of employment are less, earnings are smaller and asset holdings are lower now than they were for Michigan blacks at the end of the civil rights decade."