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America’s Racial Wealth Divide Is Nothing Short of Shocking


America’s Racial Wealth Divide Is Nothing Short of Shocking

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad

Most media coverage of racial injustice has understandably focused on our country’s unfair policing and criminal justice system. But to fully understand the current reality of racial inequality in America, we also need to take an honest look at our nation’s shocking wealth disparities.

Wealth — the total assets a family owns after the bills are paid — is the safety net we all need to help us get through the tough times and invest in our futures. And its polarization along racial lines is striking.


From the article: "The average wealth for white households is $656,000. For Latinos it’s $98,000, and for black households it’s just $85,000. The average wealth of black and Latinos combined still doesn’t come close to half of white wealth."

$656,000, that's quite an interesting number. Guess who just plopped down damn near that amount to buy their third house?
"Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the proud new owner of a summer home in the Champlain Islands, Seven Days has confirmed.
The Burlington resident last week plopped down nearly $600,000 on a lakefront camp in North Hero. "

Interesting way to lead a 'revolution' against income disparity, ain't it?
If nothing else, the timing of this real estate adventure leaves something to be desired.
(For the curious out there, $600,000 comes to about 22,222 in $27 increments.)


It's the old adage, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Statistics can be deceptive. There are multiple ways to define 'average'.
Your points are well taken. Nevertheless, the general thrust of the article is sound as it pertains to income disparity. The problems are bound to get worse.
The concepts of class/race/etc aren't really going to matter much for the truth seems to be that we are actually heading towards an economic form of neofeudalism.


I have a dollar. Put me in a room with someone who has a thousand dollars and, on average, we have $500.50.

That's why the "average wealth for white households is $656,000" figure is so misleading. There is no doubt that there is still a huge economic disparity between black and white communities, but we're both getting screwed by the 1%.

We should be uniting against our common enemy, not using misleading statistics that only serve to divide us.


Yes, use of the average (mean) skews the wealth up a bit - but even the gap in median wealth between whites and blacks is enormous. When non fungible consumer durables are excluded median white net worth is $116,800. Median black net worth is $1700.** Presumably most of this net worth comes from 401K's and equity in a house or condo. Few black USAns have equity in a house at all.

My personal opinion is that middle class whites, sitting on their perch of privilege, whine too much - their hardship is nothing like that of black USAns - and most of it is self-inflicted. Do they really need those huge TV's, and huge pickup trucks pulling a trailer full of big expensive "quads" or a 300 hp boat?

** http://inequality.org/racial-wealth-gap-worse-thought/


Yes, and the person with only a dollar in the room is likely a black person.

As long as whites don't live in equal proportions in blighted neighborhoods with awful schools, and don't face daily racist discrimination - in jobs, housing, schools, law enforcement and even for simply existing, calls from white people for unity is not going to go over well with black USAns.


"We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." Benjamin Franklin


I agree with you. We are applying confirmation bias to the real facts and it is the reason there has been a revolt among conservative voters this year. Why is that ignored? I sense that the "remedy" that these authors call for is a bandaid because reforming the system is unthinkable and, after all, there are votes at stake. There are entire neighborhoods all over the US that are predominantly black that go back generations. Where did they get the money to buy those homes? There are entire middle-class communities, including my own, that have progressively become more and more integrated over decades. The economic system is unfair for all of the 98% because our democracy is being transformed into an oligarchy. Try remedying that with taxes on the rich. When we institute all these tax reforms that are touted as the answer to correct disparities in wealth among the races and it does not work, then what will they say? The real injustices are systemic corruption in our government and, I believe, should be the basis for uniting all the races against injustice perpetrated against us all. Wealth redistribution is not necessary when the means of acquiring wealth is fair to begin with. All wealth redistribution does is take people's pride and personal empowerment away. I can't help but think the capitalists have a vested interest in keeping the races at odds with each other, and minorities disempowered, so that the underlying corruption, and even systemic racism, is not corrected. The problem is not that one is a certain color, the problem is that the traditional ways people used to pull themselves and their families up from poverty or the lower middle class (including minority families), despite the prejudices they might have encountered, ie, by hard work and getting their kids through college, no longer yields the expected rewards for anyone.


Great to see work of the Institute for Policy Studies here--the original and the real Washington progressive think tank.


"Average wealth" of any specific sector of the population serves well to skew the discussion about overall economic conditions in the US. While black people are disproportionately poor, the great majority of US poor are white, and this has always been true. Black people don't know that white poverty exists, and white people pretend it doesn't. IF US poverty is mentioned at all, we call poor black people "disadvantaged," and poor white people "white trash," and regard them accordingly.

Then there's the bigger story. From FDR to Reagan, the US had implemented a range of policies and programs, with a focus on poverty reduction, that actually took the country to its height of wealth and productivity (far from utopia, but much better). Then we changed our minds. We reversed the policies, ended the programs, and created one hell of a poverty crisis that this generation of liberals choose to ignore.

Here's reality: Not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren't jobs for all. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s (many are still leaving), ended actual welfare in the 1990s, and pretends there are no consequences.The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 jobless people who still have the means to pursue one (home address, phone, etc.), and this country has NO mercy on those who are left out.

Bottom line: Our corporate state couldn't care less about the color of those it can exploit and discard.


Written like the clueless bourgeoisie. What do you suggest we do with those who can't work (health, etc.) and those for whom no jobs are available? Those bourgeois theories start falling apart in the face of reality.


That figure is an average, which includes the wealth of the white elite. That wealth alone skews the average figure by hundreds of thousands of dollars. I, like you, do not know very many white people who have that kind of wealth. The point of the article, however IS valid. Despite my near poverty income, I am still better off than most people in this world.


Clueless is in your condescending attitude. Why don't you just try putting forward your argument, as I did? Oh, wait, maybe you can even consider, with an open and unbiased mind, what I said before you respond. That would be a miracle. Folks like you are the reason Trump has gotten this far. Wise up. No one is suggesting we ignore the fact that there are some people who require help. We will always have a percentage of people who do not milk the system and honestly cannot work. Of course they should be taken care of - and not the way we currently do it where many essentially live in poverty. We also have - according to the Obama administration's jobs reports - far fewer people out of work and in need of help (we will not discuss the growing number of black youth unemployed -from 22% to 52% in the last 8 years - largely because of immigration - a no-no for liberals to address). That leaves the vast majority of us in the category I am referring to.


Not too bad for an old socialist hippie who never held a real job in his life.


Expect to see it become even worse.


$600,000 isn't your average lakeside camp that's for sure!


Around here (mid Minnesota) it would get you an old beat up house on a 50 foot lot on a medium sized lake.


Take away the 1%. Take away the 10%. Look at the bottom half of white Americans in terms of wealth, 100 million people or so. They have less wealth than all 47 million african Americans. Less wealth than the 55 million hispanic Americans. On average, the 100 million poorest white people have less than HALF the wealth of the average african American.

So ... the story about race and wealth that is told above is at most part of the truth. If you want to do something about it that works, you might have to accept and address the whole truth.


Huh? You eliminate the racial divide by eliminating the racial social-economic divide. Not everything is an issue of class, you know. Class-reductionism can even be a form of racism.


What an amazingly contorted statistic! Talk about of apples and oranges (assuming it is correct at all)!. Nobody said that there are not some very rich black USAns. A more correct comparison might be to compare the average wealth of the bottom half of whites with the bottom half of blacks.

Or, an even better way is to simply take a tour of Cleveland Ohio or practically any other US city. The black skin of poverty, the black skin of menial low-wage jobs, and the white skin of the "professionals", leafy neighborhoods, and university campuses, is dead, dead obvious.

Sure, there are some places where some poor whites can be found (like where I live in Pittsburgh) but those are the exception. And I never see any white who look the least poor in the suburbs or rural areas.