Inflation: How The US Will Make Black America Pay For War And Ukraine Sanctions With Inflation

Inflation: How The US Will Make Black America Pay For War And Ukraine Sanctions With Inflation


(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has already caused a spike in inflation. The global supply chain has slowed down, causing prices to rise, from goods in the supermarket to fuel at the gas pump. While everyone will be paying more for products, inflation will ultimately cause Black Americans to pay for the war in Ukraine and sanctions via inflation.

Inflation hurts lower-income households more than others. Since more Black households happen to be in this economic class, they will get hit harder by inflation than any group because of longstanding racial disparities, according to Adewale Maye, a policy analyst on race, ethnicity and the economy, writing for the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

“Sadly, though, income inequality and rising inflation can entrap lower-income households in poverty,” Maye wrote. “In addition, research has shown that prices may rise more quickly for those who have lower incomes, a phenomenon called inflation inequality.”

Inflation means minimum wage workers are poorer and gives workers a 2 percent pay cut, reinforcing economic disparities. High inflation means there are fewer opportunities to become a homeowner.

Inflation will widen the already large racial wealth gap. White families, on average, have 10 times the wealth as Black families.

According to Forbes, 78 percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and Black families are disproportionately represented in that statistic.

Low- and middle-income households spent about 7 percent more in 2021 for the same products they bought in 2020 or 2019, an average of about $3,500, according to an analysis by the Penn Wharton Budget Model.

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“Going grocery shopping is frustrating these days because milk, eggs, cheese, and vegetables cost more. And while markets do not charge Black people more for the same items, across the board, Black people had less money going into the pandemic,” wrote Allison Gaines, co-founder of the collective #WEOC-Writers and Editors of Color, in a Medium article. “Inflation is having a disproportionate impact on Black families, but when we talk about it, some people forget that we’re not all equally impacted by the changes.”

Certain products are already scarce or have become expensive due to the war. Ukraine and Russia typically account for 29 percent of global wheat exports and 75 percent of sunflower oil exports. If sunflower oil becomes scarce, this will drive up the prices for other vegetable oils. 

Wheat prices have already jumped 37 percent, and corn prices jumped 21 percent so far in 2022 after increasing more than 20 percent throughout all of 2021. Companies raised prices and passed the costs off to consumers.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki