|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. |