Nearly 10% of white households, totaling over 8 million families have more than 1.3 million in net worth.

Couple Talking Over Bills --- Image by © Artiga Photo/Corbis

*A recent study by the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances released a shocking set of financial numbers on African American wealth, clearly laying out the gap in net worth between blacks and whites in America.

The data as shown below makes it unequivocally clear how small the number of African American families is that have access to the wealth required to send children to universities, start businesses or put money down for home loans for their children.

According to the data, of the 14 million black households, only 5% have more than $350,000 in net worth, and less than 1% of black families have over a million in net assets.

In addition, according to Slate.com, when you deduct the family car as an asset, the median black family in America only has a net worth of $1,700 dollars.

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* I wrote about this prior on the Huffington Post in the piece “America’s Financial Divide: The Racial Breakdown of U.S. Wealth in Black and White” stating:

Relying on data from Credit Suisse and Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy, the Harvard Business Review in the article “How America’s Wealthiest Black Families Invest Money” recently took the analysis above a step further. In the piece the author stated “If you’re white and have a net worth of about $356,000 dollars, that’s good enough to put you in the 72nd percentile of white families. If you’re black, it’s good enough to catapult you into the 95th percentile.” This means 28 percent of the total 83 million white homes, or over 23 million white households, have more than $356,000 dollars in net assets. While only 700,000 of the 14 million black homes have more than $356,000 dollars in total net worth.

William Darity, Professor of Public Policy, African and African-American Studies and Economics at Duke University told the Duke Chronicle:

“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.” Darity added that the practices of 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.

Matt Bruenig of Demos.org summed it up in the piece “The Top 10 percent of White Families Own Almost Everything” stating “White families hold 90 percent of the national wealth. Hispanic families hold 2.3 percent of the national wealth. Black families hold 2.6 percent of the national wealth.” So despite a display of what I have termed the “Decadent Veil”, where a small group of wealthy black entertainers are shown repetitively in media. We can see Bruenig’s assertion in clear application when looking at Black America with a closer lens.

According to the Slate.com article “The Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites is Even More Enormous Than You Think”, the median white family has a net worth of $116,000 dollars. This indicates 41 million white households across the nation have over $116,000 dollars in net worth. In comparison, nearly 40 percent or 5.6 million African American homes in the U.S. have zero or negative net worth.

The story of American wealth can be found in its history. The key is for all of us to become aware of that history’s impact and demand a change to create a better future for all black families, not just a few.
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