Tanisha Boston has been feeling the effects of inflation, from the gas pump to the grocery store, for months. So in April, the 31-year-old Los Angeles resident shared her frustrations on social media, writing, “Please check on your LA friends, we are NOT fine!” under a photo of herself in front of a gas station charging $7 a gallon.
Boston said soaring prices — coupled with the recent loss of a job — meant it was now relying on food stamps to get by. Although she earns some income as a freelance wardrobe stylist and Instagram influencer, she said she looks for extra jobs to survive.
“I realize that one income is not enough,” she said.
According to a report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation hit 8.5% in March – the highest since 1981 – putting daily necessities like food, fuel and rent out of reach for many. And like most economic downturns, including the Great Recession and the pandemic, black communities are disproportionately affected. That means black households are now spending more of their after-tax income on basic necessities like food and energy, according to a new Bank of America report cited by Business Insider.
Amid this financial crisis, activists and community leaders are stepping up their work around food security and affordable housing to meet the emerging needs of the black community.
Hosea Helps is a Black-owned nonprofit in Atlanta that distributes meals and provides other services, including rental and utility assistance. Elizabeth Omilami, the group’s chief executive, said she was seeing an increase in the number of people now in need of food. Over Easter, more than 600 vehicles lined up for food as part of the organization’s food distribution program.
“The rent has gone up so much that people are out of housing,” Omilami said. “And rising food prices have nearly tripled the number of people asking for emergency food.”
Omilami’s father, civil rights activist Hosea Williams, founded Hosea Helps in 1971, serving 100 meals a week to the homeless. Today, the organization provides food to more than 50,000 people a year. The group works with local farmers’ markets to provide fresh produce to those who cannot afford it, provides healthy meals for children in schools and also partners with a hotel to provide people with a place to stay until until they get permanent accommodation.
William Darity Jr., professor of public policy, African American studies and economics at Duke University, said the underlying reason inflation is so damaging to black communities is the gap in richness. According to Darity, white households have more than $800,000 more net worth than black households.
“One of the key indicators of this is the near-permanent two-to-one ratio of unemployment rates between blacks and whites in the United States, which I regard as a primary index of the degree of discrimination in American labor markets. “Darity said. .
Denise Jordan, a retired housewife in Fort Wayne, Indiana, uses her popular YouTube channel “This and That With Denise Jordan” to offer advice on how to get by on less when prices at the store go up. sharply. In one video, she advises viewers to limit purchases to generic store-brand items and try growing produce in a vegetable garden.
“When I started seeing food prices go up in grocery stores, it made me think, ‘OK, you really have to do this,'” she said.
Cultivating gardens is a solution Anthony Beckford, leader of Brooklyn’s Black Lives Matter chapter, has also embraced. He said food prices were high even before inflation, but now prices are forcing many people to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.
Once they secure the necessary funding, the organization aims to open two community gardens where residents can harvest fresh produce for free. Beckford said healthy, organic foods in supermarket chains are often more expensive, and with current inflation, that’s especially hurting communities of color.
“When you look at a lot of the food that our community gets, number one, most of the food is not fresh as is,” Beckford said. “It’s like we’re getting rock bottom, yet we’re being charged far more than many other communities are being charged for groceries.”
Additionally, Beckford said he advocates for New York City to reduce transportation costs by supporting programs such as Fair Fares NYC, an initiative that saves commuters up to $200 per month on metro fees. Other efforts include a ride-sharing group to provide affordable rides and decent wages for drivers, he added.
“If food prices continue to rise…there will be a lot of families going hungry,” Beckford said.
Boston, meanwhile, said the situation is something they will just have to adapt to.
“There’s no other choice, I’ll say, for me, when there’s not a lot of jobs available, a low amount of pay available,” Boston said, “there’s not much we can do in more trying to get different streams of income.”
To follow NBCBLK on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.