Black Americans are broke. While this isn’t particularly new knowledge, it’s a painful reality that's becoming more clear thanks to in-depth research.
A new report entitled, “Beyond Broke: Why Closing the Racial Wealth Gap is a Priority for National Economic Security,” finds that the racial wealth gap continues to widen as African-Americans in particular continue to get left behind in America’s economy and wealth ownership.
“Despite overwhelming evidence that the racial wealth gap persists in the U.S., it remains a taboo topic in mainstream policy circles and most officials studiously avoid offering targeted solutions to help close this gap,” read the report, which uses the most recently available data from the U. S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) along with the National Asset Scorecard in Communities of Color (NASCC). “However, this issue is ignored at our nation’s peril given the anticipated growth of racial and ethnic groups over the next few decades.”
With these findings, the report provides an analysis of housing wealth and liquid wealth, while also evaluating how wealth disparities manifest across racial and ethnic groups and within racial and ethnic subpopulations in four geographically diverse U.S. cities.
Some of the report’s highlights include the fact that between 2005 and 2011, the median net worth of households of color remained near their 2009 levels, reflecting a drop of 58 percent for Latinos, 48 percent for Asians, 45 percent for African Americans but only 21 percent for whites. To put that in numeric perspective, African-American households only owns six cents for every dollar of wealth owned by the typical White household.
Additionally, African Americans (38 percent) and Latinos (35 percent) are over twice as likely as Whites (13 percent) to hold no financial assets at all and to have no or negative net worth. Not to mention, for most African Americans and Latinos, checking accounts are their only liquid asset, as opposed to investment or brokerage accounts.
In an op-ed for TheGrio, writer Maya Rockeymoore says rather than Black America’s rage over Donald Sterling’s racist comments, they should have been more outraged with this study, which was released during the same week.
If people actually cared, these findings would have gotten at least the same level of outrage and attention that Donald Sterling’s racist rant received. Yet the nation remains passive in the face of facts that show that African Americans continue to experience a stunning level of economic segregation and isolation a full 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
The sports analogy helps bring the depth of the racial wealth gap into focus. For just as the collective net worth of the predominantly black and highly paid NBA players is a drop in the bucket compared to that of their predominantly white male team owners, the combined assets of every African American household in the U.S. — including wealthy athletes, entertainers, and businesspeople — is not enough to lift the average net worth of African Americans beyond a little more than a nickel for every dollar held by whites.
What are your thoughts on the Black community’s lack of share in America’s
wealth? What can be done?
(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)