Futility of “Colorblindness”: Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) Discusses Black Unemployment in the United States with Chairman Jerome Powell; The Fed & Black Employee Discrimination: Artis v. [Greenspan Bernanke] Yellen

Rep. Al Green and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell on Black Unemployment

Mr. Chairman, that which we will tolerate [high black unemployment], we will not change.

-Rep. Al Green (February 27, 2018)

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While watching the House Financial Services Committee hearings for the February 2018 Monetary Policy Report (MPR), I became interested in one of the question-and-answer exchanges–between Representative Al Green (D-Texas) and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Jerome Powell.

In past MPR hearings, Rep. Green has asked questions about high black unemployment, roughly twice that of white people on a fairly consistent basis. The chart to which Rep. Green referred is in the MPR, page 7.

Author’s note:   In addition, the Board published a working paper on observing racial gaps in the labor market in July 2017.

Furthermore, in previous reports this issue was discussed in a “box” in the MPR. In February 2018, the issue of black unemployment was mentioned in a paragraph of the main text .]

This time, Rep. Green was far more direct in questioning this particular MPR chart, requesting for research about why the result of high black unemployment was so high and for Congress to remedy the situation. Specifically, Rep. Green will send a letter to Chairman Powell that will request the following information from the Federal Reserve:

  • The effect of covert and overt discrimination on black unemployment (two times that of whites).
  • Identify the primary factors that limit African American’s access to employment opportunities in sectors protected from cyclical downturns in the economy.
  • If allowed (by legislation), would testing provide empirical data of discrimination in lending.

The Federal Reserve’s Mistreatment of Its Own Black Employees: Artis v. Greenspan Bernanke Yellen

There is a side story, as the readers of this blog may recognize: the Federal Reserve Board has had issues with its own black employees: specifically, as described through the court case which was titled Artis v. Greenspan Bernanke Yellen. See also Robert D. Auerbach (2008), Deception and Abuse at the Fed:  Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan’s Bank, chapter 8.

Sheila Clark’s letter to the EEOC (printed in the Auerbach book, page 123).