Comparison between African Americans and the whites during the Great Depression


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The great depression began in 1929 and ended in 1939. It was one of the most horrible economic regressions in the industrialized world. The great depression created a lot of economic frustrations which led to world war as countries were unbearable to each other. The great depression had negative effects on people across the world. However, the effects were not the same for all the people across the globe, depending on race and gender. Therefore, this essay is going to compare the economic effects of the great depression between the African Americans and the White.

Both African America and whites in America experienced a downward economic trend. The great depression had a huge impact on the industrialized world that it could not spare anyone. However, the economic depression affected people differently on basis of the race. For instance, it affected African Americans more than white. There are some of the factors which lead to the downward trend.

Lack of employment during the great depression was hugely faced by the African-Americans. The unemployment rate was 50 percent on the side of the African Americans. The only opportunities for employment were found at places such as mining. The general statistics showed that during that time the unemployment rate for the whole country was 25%. However, 50% of the 25% affected the blacks. On the other hand, the whites were not hugely affected by the unemployment crisis was at around 20% percent. Most of the jobs in the United States of America were given to the whites. It reached a time when the whites decided to start a slogan ‘no jobs for the niggers’. It meant that all the available jobs were given to the whites. Therefore, during the economic depression, African Americans were hugely affected by unemployment compared to white men. This meant that the economic situation of the African Americans went down more than one of the white men because African Americans were faced with a higher unemployment rate than the white men.

The great depression also hit Africans more than the whites in regard to the places they were living, as it affected the type of houses the blacks were living in.  During the onset of the great depression, about 40% of the blacks in America were farmers. Most of them were tenants on the farms of the white. Due to economic depression, Africans had to accept all the circumstances in which they were living. This meant that the black farmers were living in one or two bed roomed houses, which did not have electricity and water. They had to bear with that situation because that was the best they could get due to the great depression.  On the other side, the Whites were living in better houses with good conditions. Their houses were well lit and had water. Even though they were not living in the best houses as expected, the economic depression hit them, and they were going downwards.

One of the social changes brought about by the great depression was the introduction of activism toward the labor laws and conditions. Both the blacks and the whites formed their labor activism movements. For instance, the black Americans formed a labor activist movement that was against the bad labor laws that were enacted by the white, while most of the whites were against the employment of the blacks in the country. On the other hand, the whites formed the labor activism movements which were against the employment of the blacks across America. This increased a lot of hatred between the whites and the black.

Nevertheless, racism increased during the great depression. The whites felt that they were superior and controlled all the economic activities in the country. This made the Black Americans undergo a serious economic downtrend. Racism led to a lack of jobs among the blacks, which increased the effects of the great depression


The great depression led to economic regression in the industrialized world. It brought the people’s economy down. This was due to a lack of employment among the people. However, from the above analysis, the great depression hit the African Americans harder than the white men. The great depression brought about labor activism in unions, in which people were fighting for their rights.

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  1. Clements, Peter. The Great Depression And The Americas 1929-39. London: Hodder Education, 2012.
  2. Downing, David. The Great Depression. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2001.
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