Look, poor white people (which is most white people I might point out), I get it. You don’t like to be told that you’re privileged. Life sucks for everyone in various degrees, but we’ve got to stop pretending there’s no such thing as white privilege. It’s not even remotely in tune with any factual evidence whatsoever. If you somehow don’t think having hundreds of years of inherited wealth as opposed to hundreds of years of penniless slavery doesn’t make some sort of difference in you typical economic reality, well, the facts just don’t bare that out at all. Read all about it at that super lefty publication that glorifies billionaires, Forbes.
“One troubling sign of the work we have to do can be seen in a wealth gap between black Americans and white Americans that persists and even seems to be widening. It’s a sobering reminder of how far we are from true equality.
I have always known that this gap (or “chasm” as one author described it) existed, but I didn’t realize how large it was until I started researching this piece. The facts and figures truly frightened me. Today, I hope to raise awareness of this problem and suggest some practical steps to help resolve the issue.
The wealth gap
The wealth gap measures the difference between the median wealth of blacks versus the median wealth of whites. Almost all studies calculate wealth by adding up total assets (e.g., cash, retirement accounts, home, etc.) then subtracting liabilities (e.g., credit card debt, student loans, mortgage, etc.) The resulting figure is your net worth.
As I’ve argued before, net worth is probably the most important measure of overall financial health. It matters more than income, because high earnings, unfortunately, don’t always translate into financial security. I experienced this often in representation of taxpayers before the IRS, several of whom had $300,000+ a year in income but over $500,000 of tax debt. While the income gap provides as huge hurdle to equality, the wealth gap presents a mountain.
Here are some of the statistics:
- According to the New York Times, for every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.
- The Economic Policy Institute found that more than one in four black households have zero or negative net worth, compared to less than one in ten white families without wealth.
- The Institute for Policy Studies recent report The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Divide is Hollowing Out the America’s Middle Class (RZW) showed that between 1983 and 2013, the wealth of the median black household declined 75 percent (from $6,800 to $1,700), and the median Latino household declined 50 percent (from $4,000 to $2,000). At the same time, wealth for the median white household increased 14 percent from $102,000 to $116,800.