What You Need to Know About Race-Based Financial Disparities

Demo.org is an organization that takes Federal Reserve data and analyzes it to find trends and wealth divides in the United States.

By Robert Stitt

They particularly look at the divisions that occur along racial lines. One of their most recent pieces took data from the Survey of Consumer Finances and addressed the idea that black wealth has been increasing and the racial income gap has been closing.

The premise of the study was to dispel the myth that because a number of high-profile black Americans pull in a truckload of money each year in sports, music, entertainment, and politics that wealth in black America was improving. The report authors state that “To truly understand the difference in economic access, you must look at the top of American wealth, and be honest about what you find.”

One statistic showed that “nearly 4 Million white households have more than $2.4 million in assets, while only 700,000 black households have more than just $350,000. Over 8 million white homes have more than $1.2 million, while out of 14 million black homes, less than 140,000 African American households are at this threshold.”

When addressing the disparity, one Duke University professor, William Darity, said that it comes down to history and inheritance. “The major sources of wealth for most of the super rich are inheritances and in life transfers. The big reason is racial differences in access to resources to transfer to the next generation…enslavement, violence, Jim Crow, discrimination and dispossession of property have kept generations of African Americans from accruing the type of wealth that whites in the top 1 percent have today.”

If you are wondering what this means to you and me since we are likely not in that top 1 percent, consider this:

  • Those in the top one percent spend considerable time and money lobbying for laws and political agendas.
  • They do the hiring or control the hiring for the nation’s largest businesses
  • Educational institutions are run by these families

When the top one percent does not just control the wealth, but the decision making, they can restrict access to groups that do not look, sound, or act like they do.

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