Monday, March 23, 2009

Color of Wealth Gap is Now a Canyon.

For every $1 the median white family owns, the median Latino family owns .12 cents, and the median black family, only one dime (Federal Reserve's triennial Survey of Consumer Finances completed in 2007). This is an alarming acceleration in the growth of the racial wealth divide – the large gap between the value of the assets that are controlled by people of different races - in the last 30-years, especially in the last ten.

How can this be, when, more than ever before, African Americans and Latinos are taking part in the educational process, therefore earning more than they ever earned in the past?

Part of the answer lies in our tendency to confuse wealth and earnings income. Wealth goes beyond education and earnings, and is the broader measure of prosperity, or the total value of all material possessions and resources owned by an individual or group. Wealth or asset growth require time and opportunity, and gradually build through inter-generational inheritances and transfers.

Whereas, many white families have had the opportunity to build wealth through past generations, African Americans and Latinos, if educated and earning a decent salary, are not only put in a position of making up for the legacy of wealth stripping that defined their past, they find themselves in a place of providing for the future, as well.

In the past, slavery, forced relocation and the confiscating of tribal lands served to expand the wealth of some groups while suppressing the growth of wealth in other groups. Today, in much the same way, government policies are set in place, or removed, in order to continue and grow the wealth divide.

Over the last ten years, the reversal and erosion of progressive fiscal policies originally designed to include the working poor amongst the middle class, combined with tax code, created to encourage asset building for the affluent, have transformed the racial wealth gap into a racial wealth canyon.

Today, the two-day Color of Wealth Policy Summit kicks off in Washington DC. The economists and policy experts will discuss ways to close the racial wealth gap.


Barbara Robles author of The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide, and one of the people attending the summit, along with minority businessman Earl Stafford who "paid $1 million for more than 300 rooms and an array of amenities to create opportunities for less-fortunate guests to take part in the inauguration of Barack Obama" joined NPR's Tell Me More.

The Wealth Gap gets Wider


Redlining in Philadelphia in 1934

Wealth Building Links


Anonymous,  12:13  

Ronald Reagan was smart. His strategy to undo progressive reforms mainly went under the radar. He sabotaged the policies by underfunding, under enforcing, and basically pretending they don't exist. You can undo a hell of a lot that way because no one notices.

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