During the February 7, 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate debate multiple allusions were made to the wealth gap between African American and White households, though such a gap also applies to Latino and Indigenous populations. Between 1983 and 2013 Black median household wealth went down by 75%; Latino wealth by 50%; and Native American wealth decreased by an even greater percent though it was no longer assessed after the year 2000. White household wealth increased by 14% in the same time period. Twenty five percent of Black households had no wealth or negative wealth while the corresponding figure for White households is 10%. Educated African American families have a net worth of 200,000 dollars less than comparable White families. On the average, a two parent Black household has less wealth than a single parent White household. Asian American households maintain greater wealth than White households but it must be noted that some Asian groups tend to be highly educated and live in high income regions while many, especially the more newly immigrated, are very poor. The wealthiest Asian households reveal 168 times the wealth of the lowest Asian households while the comparable figures for white rich and poor households show a differential of 121. Economists estimate that the net worth of African American households will be zero by 2053 and Hispanic households will suffer the same decline twenty years later.
Wealth inequality is a major factor in standard of living and quality of life and it has been steadily increasing for decades. The topic is incendiary because it is based on centuries of legal and de facto discrimination. The institutionalization of race inequality, aside from the obvious repercussions of slavery, depends on discriminatory practices in employment; wages; housing markets; the banking industry; the tax structure; government programs; as well as the long term consequences of slavery. Inequality of wealth is even more significant than annual income inequality which also has been sustained at all educational and income levels and actually significantly increased between 2000 and 2018. Wealth, defined as all assets minus all debts, is a marker of intergenerational well-being and has a major impact on the ability to buy a home. Home ownership determines neighborhood which is an essential indicator of home values, education resources, recreation, and other quality of life measures. African Americans have more pressure to save due to the relative unlikelihood that their youth will inherit money to gain early homeownership. They buy homes later and in less valuable neighborhoods. African American homeowners average $12,000 in equity while the comparable white home owner averages $189,000 in equity. At the same time, they have a harder time saving due to the income inequality, the cost of loans, and systemic discrimination. It has been suggested that if the home ownership gap narrowed the income race gap would decrease by 31%.
The issues becomes essential to forming policy for all the presidential candidates; although anti-discrimination laws have been forged in real estate; employment; wages; banking; taxation; education; and government programs systemic discrimination pervades these areas. The affluent middle class of the post-World War II era was made possible by inexpensive, accessible higher education; well-paid manufacturing jobs; and government programs such as the GI Bill and the Veterans Administration which disproportionately accrued to white households. The issue of reparations, and the form and nature of these, is one that will be increasingly present in the political sphere. Some proponents of these suggest that special funds be set up to bolster community well-being through low cost housing, student, and business loans and other projects which would benefit the nonwhite communities.
- https://www.ncobraonline.org/ A national coalition of organizations devoted to gaining reparations for the descendants of slavery.