What If Black America Were a Country?

Theodore Johnson, The Atlantic, October 14, 2014

In a recent debate with a CNN contributor, the conservative radio talk-show host Larry Elder declared that “if black America were a country, it would be the 15th-wealthiest country in the world.” His math proved incorrect, and his invocation of “black America” was followed by a refutation of the concept by a fellow black conservative. {snip}


This decades-old conversation invites a thought experiment: If black America were a nation-state, how would it stack up against other countries? How would it fare on standard measures of national power and weakness?

Naturally, this exercise presumes a monolithic black America, but this is a standard hazard when comparing large entities using statistical medians and per-capita rates. {snip}

In the infographics below, two pictures emerge. The first is of a strong nation with considerable manpower and purchasing power. The second is of a troubled, fragile state suffering from socioeconomic disparities and structural subjugation in ways that degrade life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (on some measures, black America resembles countries like Brazil, China, and Russia—emerging powers that are struggling with stark economic inequality). {snip}




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