This gap in access to wealth is built on the back of an American legacy of disenfranchisement that dates back to slavery. As I have shown here on Eurweb, a nuanced view of the Institute’s analysis shows “The 5 Largest U.S. Landowners Own More Land Than All of Black America Combined”. In addition, the disparity doesn’t stop with top 100 wealthy white families, as I stated in my Huffington Post piece, “America’s Financial Divide: The Racial Breakdown of U.S. Wealth in Black and White”,
In total, there are just about 120 million American households. So when we talk about the top one percent, we are looking at the top 1.2 million households. Breaking the 120 million homes down by race, according to the U.S. Census, there are nearly 83 million white households, and there are just about 14 million black households.
Here is where the economic picture gets clearer. A few years ago when economic inequality was just becoming a national topic, theGrio supported by MSNBC, wrote a piece titled “Who are the Black 1%”. In this article, they showed that nearly 96.1 percent of the 1.2 million households in the top one percent by income were white, a total of about 1,150,000 households. In addition, these families were found to have a median net asset worth of $8.3 million dollars.
In stark contrast, in the same piece black households were shown as a mere 1.4 percent of the top one percent by income, that’s only 16,800 homes. In addition, their median net asset worth was just $1.2 million dollars. Using this data as an indicator only about 8,400 of the over 14 million African American households have more than $1.2 million dollars in net assets.
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.
The Urban Institute report further states:
- The wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States.
- Among the Forbes 400, just 2 individuals are African American – Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith.
- America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet – now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households.
- The wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population. Just five members of the Forbes 400 are Latino including Jorge Perez, Arturo Moreno, and three members of the Santo Domingo family.
- With a combined worth of $2.34 trillion, the Forbes 400 own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country combined, a staggering 194 million people.
Despite alternative views that try to look to lack of diversity in Silicone Valley, or lack of black businesses as the causation for this wealth gap. The reality is that it all stems from a legacy rooted out of America’s dark racial past, not just modern individual choices. Whether you look to the resource needed for elite advanced education to compete in Silicone Valley, or lack of support for black entrepreneurship these are all the results of our country’s long standing history. The Institute for Policy studies numbers show the historical cost of blackness has left African Americans on the outside of access to the American dream.
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