Race and Privilege · Social Justice

Racial Wealth Gap Increases Four-Fold

A May 2010 report by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University indicates that the wealth disparity between whites and blacks continue to grow. Racial Wealth Gap by IncomeEspecially noteworthy is that the growth cannot be explained by income alone, as high-income blacks have seen steady or declining wealth, while both middle- and especially upper-income whites have seen overall increases in wealth.

Wealth, what you own minus what you owe, allows people to send children to college, to buy homes, and to start businesses.  These things in turn help generate more wealth.  The report points out that the problem in part is related to U.S. policies that favor those who already have significant wealth, helping them to get more.  This explains, for instance, why middle-income whites did not rise as quickly in wealth as did high-income whites.  But it also indicates that blacks pay more for their debt than do whites who make the same income.

The reasons for the growing gap are complex; the fixes will likely need to be multifaceted.  But unless there is a recognition on the part of Americans that racism remains a part of our society in key areas such as wealth creation, we will not be able to move forward.  The Whirlpool of Racism will continue to suck down families, not just to the detriment of those families but to the health and well-being of every one of us.

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