The Urban League of Philadelphia's 2007 State of Black Philadelphia report paints a grim picture on the issue of race and inequality.
Anderson, formerly with the University of Pennsylvania, is among several experts invited to an Urban League symposium on the report at the Loews Hotel at 9 a.m. today.
Crafting its findings as the "Philadelphia Equality Index," the Urban League's report says that black Philadelphians' quality of life ranks as just 72 percent of that of their white counterparts.
(Last April, the National Urban League's 2007 State of Black America Report put the quality of life for blacks for all of America as 73 percent of that of whites. Both reports were conducted by the research firm Global Insights.)
The Philadelphia Equality Index compared conditions for black Philadelphians relative to white residents in the areas of economics (64 percent), health (73 percent), education (70 percent), civic engagement such as voting and volunteerism (107 percent) and social justice, including arrests, incarceration and victimization (66 percent).
Despite the report's overall bleak assessment, the Urban League said it wants to put its attention on an "Action Agenda" to turn things around.
"We want to be in the forefront of pushing change," Patricia A. Coulter, president and CEO of the Urban League, said.
"We present this report with a sense of urgency," she added. "If Philadelphia wants to be a world-class city, one that can really play on a national and global playing field . . . we all have to work together to push this Action Agenda forward."
Or, as Tommy Davis III, one of the contributors to the report said, it's time for African-Americans to "flip the script" from the negative conditions detailed in the report and discover their talents and potential instead.
For the Action Agenda, the Urban League convened economists, university professors and business and other community leaders to promote policy changes that would improve the economics and health of all Philadelphians.
For instance, to improve African-Americans' economics equality index, the agenda urges that young people be provided with early opportunities for work. It promotes the idea of businesses investing in employee education and new skill development.
It calls for addressing the issue of violence in the city as a health issue, and urges support for programs to bring in "fresh, affordable and healthy foods at the neighborhood level."
In an essay in the report titled "Race & Economics in Philadelphia," Wharton economics professor Bernard E. Anderson strongly proposes eliminating the city's business-privilege tax to encourage the private sector to create new jobs.
Yesterday, he said there is an "unfavorable business climate" in Philadelphia - "specifically the ruinous business-privilege tax."
Here are a few of the 2007 report findings:
_ The median household income of blacks is $26,728, more than $15,000 less than the median household income of whites.
_ The unemployment rate for blacks in 2006 was 9.9 percent, more than twice the rate for whites.
_ Only 53 percent of African-Americans in Philadelphia are homeowners compared with 64 percent of whites.
_ 32 percent of blacks live below the poverty line, compared with 16 percent of whites.
_ Blacks in the city are more likely to be imprisoned once arrested than whites. Some 2.8 percent of blacks are imprisoned when arrested, compared with 1.2 percent of whites.
_ In education, 11.8 percent of blacks hold a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 28.2 percent of whites.
"Sad to say, there is not much that is new in this report," said Bernard Anderson.
"That is a sad corollary in our present time. The report is about racial inequality in Philadelphia economic life, and that inequality has existed for a long, long time."
Bernard Anderson said some of the same conditions and inequalities existed when W.E.B. Du Bois compiled his groundbreaking sociological study in the 1899 book "The Philadelphia Negro."
"If you go back and look at what Du Bois said about the social and economic conditions of Philadelphia . . . and fast forward to 2007, you will see a surprising similarity in the conditions of black people 100 years later."
He conceded that there have been some gains and noted that there is a growing black middle class. Unfortunately, he said, "there is a widening gap" between the black middle class and the black poor.
"That segment of the black community that doesn't have the values and attitudes and behaviors associated with economic success is falling further behind."
Elijah Anderson, author of a number of books about the inner-city poor, including "Code of the Street" and "Streetwise," said he was particularly concerned about the future for young black men from poor neighborhoods, young men who appear to fit the "segment of the community" that Bernard Anderson talked about.
Noting that much of the old industry jobs have "gone overseas or to the suburbs," Elijah Anderson said: "In place of those high-paying manufacturing jobs are service jobs that don't pay people enough to live."
But for young, poor, black men, even those low-paying service jobs are hard to find because employers "don't trust the way" the young men look, he said.
"A lot of these guys are dressing in the style of the streets because if you don't, then people will roll on you, but it's a style that gets them in trouble with employers and the police.
"Lots of employers have other people to choose from," he said. "They have people that they put more trust in, and they tend to leapfrog these young men and discriminate against them."
The Urban League's Pat Coulter said that the most important message from the report is the need to understand that the problem isn't just a problem for African-Americans. It's a problem for the city, the state and the nation, also.
Or, as Bernard Anderson put it: "African-Americans are not an isolated island.
"They are a part of the broader economy.
"Wherever black people live, they are part of a larger economic and social reality." *