The Racial Wealth Gap Is Leading To An Almost-Nonexistent Middle Class

Top photo | Deborah Goldring stands inside her Baltimore home. From growing up black in the segregated 1960s, Goldring pulled herself out of poverty and earned a middle-class life – until the Great Recession. First, her husband fell ill, and they drained savings to pay for nursing homes before he died. Then Goldring lost her executive assistant job of 17 years. Then came a letter from the bank, intending to foreclose on her home of almost three decades. For Goldring and many others in the black community, where unemployment is still rising, job loss has knocked them out of the middle class and back into poverty. Some even see a historic reversal of hard-won economic gains that took black people decades to achieve. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

By Julia Conley for Mint Press News – With people of color projected to make up the majority of Americans by 2043, a new study warns against policies that keep many black and Latino households out of the middle class. A new study finds that if the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed, the median wealth for black Americans will fall to $0 by 2053, with Latino Americans reaching the same median wealth two decades later. According to the report by the Institute for Policy Studies and Prosperity Now, the wealth gap between people of color and their white counterparts is showing no sign of narrowing in the coming years—even as racial demographics in the U.S. are rapidly shifting, with people of color projected to make up the majority of the population by 2043. In the next three years, black households are projected to lose 18 percent of their median net worth, while white families are expected to gain about three percent more wealth. The report, “The Road to Zero-Wealth,” defines middle-class wealth as a household net worth of $68,000 to $204,000, and notes the disconnect between income and wealth: a median income for one’s racial background does not guarantee entry into the middle-class. “White households in the middle-income quintile—those earning $37,201-61,328 annually—own nearly eight times as much wealth ($86,100) as Black middle-income earners ($11,000) and ten times that of their Latino counterparts ($8,600),” write the authors.

Racial Inequality Is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class

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By Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Chuck Collins for Other Words – Since 1983, national median wealth has declined by 20 percent, falling from $73,000 to $64,000 in 2013. And U.S. homeownership has been in a steady decline since 2005. While we often hear about the struggles of the white working class, a driving force behind this trend is an accelerating decline in black and Latino household wealth. Over those three decades, the wealth of median black and Latino households decreased by 75 percent and 50 percent, respectively, while median white household wealth actually rose a little. As of 2013, median whites had $116,800 in wealth — compared to just $2,000 for Latinos and $1,700 for blacks. This wealth decline is a threat to the viability of the American middle class and the nation’s overall economic health. Families with more wealth can cover emergencies without going into debt and take advantage of economic opportunity, such as buying a home, saving for college, or starting a business. We looked at the growing racial wealth gap in a new report for the Institute for Policy Studies and Prosperity Now. We found that if these appalling trends continue, median black household wealth will hit zero by 2053, even while median white wealth continues to climb. Latino net worth will hit zero two decades later, according to our projections.

Report: The Road To Zero Wealth

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By Staff of Institute for Policy Studies and Prosperity Now – While households of color are projected to reach majority status by 2043, if the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed, median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053 and median Latino household wealth is projected to hit zero twenty years later. In sharp contrast, median White household wealth would climb to $137,000 by 2053. If current trends continue, by 2020 median Black and Latino households stand to lose nearly 18% and 12% of the wealth they held in 2013, respectively, while median White household wealth increases 3%. At that point–just three years from now–White households are projected to own 85 times more wealth than Black households and 68 times more wealth than Latino households. The declining wealth of households of color is already taking a significant toll on the broader economy. The nation’s overall median wealth decreased nearly 20% from 1983 to 2013 ($78,000 to $64,000—a period when Black and Latino median wealth went down and White wealth slowly went up. Even earning a middle-class income does not guarantee a family middle-class economic security, according to the report.

America Was Never White

US map showing non-white Americans

By Joe Krulder for the History News Network. Events in Charlottesville recently cascaded into domestic terrorism. Three dead and dozens wounded as neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other “alt-right” members descended upon the university that Thomas Jefferson built; their purpose, it is alleged, to defend a statue – a monument – to the Confederate Civil War soldier, General Robert E. Lee. These radical rightists arrived from all across the United States upon the college town of Charlottesville to protect, in their words, their “white” heritage. Among the many problems I have with so-called “white supremacists” is their purposeful mixing of “heritage” with “history,” rhetorically pining for a once proud “white” America. But history proves that America was never white. That I need to make this statement, and worse, that some may take offense from it, shows the blurring rhetoric between what is Heritage and what is History.

Honor Juneteenth By Closing The Racial Wealth Divide

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By Jessicah Pierre for Other Words – On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas. They carried some historic news: Slavery had finally and completely ended, they declared. All of America’s enslaved people were now free, some two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. That day in June would soon become “Juneteenth,” a holiday still celebrated in communities across the United States. African Americans have now been free from slavery for over 150 years. Over the course of those years, the United States has made some appreciable and even impressive progress. In 1964, passage of the Civil Rights Act toppled Jim Crow. A year later, the Voting Rights Act challenged discriminatory voting laws. We’ve even seen the election — and re-election — of the nation’s first black president. So why, amid all this progress, does the Juneteenth holiday still resonate so powerfully for so many Americans Because Juneteenth reminds us how far we have yet to go. Racial inequality remains one of the top issues of our time. Black households, research shows, continue to lag economically behind their white counterparts, in both income and wealth.

The Invisible Threads Of Gender, Race, And Slavery

Enslaved African Americans hoe and plow the earth and cut piles of sweet potatoes on a South Carolina plantation, circa 1862-3 (Image courtesy of Library of Congress).

By Sasha Turner for Black Perspectives – On March 24, 2017 the United Nations commemorated its ten-year anniversary for the International Day of Remembrance honoring the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This year, the theme chosen for the commemoration is “Remember Slavery: Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent.” In the keynote address, delivered by Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture urgently called on us to be vigilant in recognizing the ways in which the legacy of slavery continues today. Cloaking the history of slavery in silence, Bunch argues, permits the violence of slavery to live on, dishonoring the struggles, losses, and strength experienced by our ancestors. It is fitting that the UN-designated International Day of Remembrance falls on March 25, coinciding with Women’s History Month. Indeed, any attempt to remember the enslavement of African peoples is incomplete without considering women’s experiences in slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

Lost Manuscript Contains Eyewitness Account Of Tulsa Race Massacre Of 1921

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By Allison Keyes for Smithsonian – The manuscript, “The Tulsa Race Riot and Three of Its Victims,” by B.C. Franklin was recovered from a storage area in 2015 and donated to the African American History Museum. (NMAAHC), Gift from Tulsa Friends and John W. and Karen R. Franklin) An Oklahoma lawyer details the attack by hundreds of whites on the thriving black neighborhood where hundreds died 95 years ago. The ten-page manuscript is typewritten, on yellowed legal paper, and folded in thirds. But the words, an eyewitness account of the May 31, 1921, racial massacre that destroyed what was known as Tulsa, Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street,” are searing. “I could see planes circling in mid-air.

Race, History And The #ScienceMarch

A pro-science sign at the Women's March in New York, January 21, 2017. (Photo: MTSOfan / Flickr)

By Christopher F. Petrella for Black Perspectives – Donald Trump is an anti-science president. In fact, his entire raison d’être — perhaps unsurprisingly — stands at cross-purposes with the scientific method, systematic inquiry, and even the basic notion of evidentiary support. In the few days since his inauguration, Trump has already prohibited scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from speaking to the public about their research. Moreover, the White House recently expunged U.S. National Park Service (NPS) Twitter content highlighting the threat of climate change. In the wake of Trump’s dictates, concerned scientists have taken to social media to plan a protest in Washington, DC…

Pondiscio Exposes Split In Ed Reform Camps Over Role Of Race

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By John Thompson for Living In Dialogue – Although I wouldn’t spend too much time eavesdropping on the civil war between liberal and conservative reformers, it is fun to periodically check it out. The first of the loudest shots in their internecine conflict was issued by Fordham’s Robert Pondiscio in the aptly titled post “The Left’s Drive to Push Conservatives Out of Education Reform.” He condemned “social justice warriors” who “no longer feel any compunction about accusing their conservative brethren of racism and worse.”

America’s Racial Wealth Divide Is Nothing Short Of Shocking

“Suffocating Black Wealth,” an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

By Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Chuck Collins for Other Worlds – 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.

Rejecting Postracialism: Whiteness, Morality And Decency

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By Richard Raber for Daily Maverick – Beginning with the contention that most white people view racism conceptually as bad, evil or at least something that is undesirable to be associated with, it is disheartening to see so much support for reactionary #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and similar postracial rhetoric from ostensibly decent people. White America must seek to understand our own existence and its relation to the lived realities of both others and ourselves.

America’s Huge Racial Wealth Gap Is No Accident

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By Josh Hoxie for Other Worlds – Party platforms are dense and often morosely boring documents filled with wonkish policy proposals and partisan jeers at the other side. At over 40 pages, this year’s Democratic Party platform lives up to its predecessors in length and ennui. However, it also includes a section not yet seen in platforms from either side: an acknowledgement of the racial wealth gap.

The President Is Wrong About Dallas, Wrong About Race

President Obama observes a ceremony to honor NATO soldiers at the NATO summit in Warsaw on Friday. (photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

By William Boardman for Reader Supported News – hat the President expressed is a conventional wisdom meme, and it is both inadequate and false in so many ways, but it reflects the unhealthy American zeitgeist all too well. Probably this argument will offend some people, but its purpose is to get beyond the popular willingness to be offended and get to a more considered place of comprehension. But first we have to find our way out the mental squirrel cage that keeps our public discourse from viewing our country, our world, and even ourselves with any kind of healthy sense of wholeness and interconnectedness.

Being Black Still Barrier To Rural Cooperative Board Membership

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By John Farrell for ILSR – In 32 years, little has changed for electric cooperatives in the South. A recent study published by The Rural Power Project shared results of a similar survey (of 313 cooperative boards) and found just 90 blacks among the 3,000 board members. This 4% proportion of African American board leadership is in states where the black population represents more than 22% of the total. The disparity is even higher between men and women, with men representing 90% of board members but only half the population.

Not Much Difference In Recent Years, But Over 40 Years Blacks Make Progress

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By Jesse J. Holland for Associated Press – African-Americans are doing about the same as they have in previous years as the nation rises out of the Great Recession, and much better than they did when its first “State of Black America” report came out 40 years ago, the National Urban League said Tuesday. The new report, “Locked Out: Education, Jobs & Justice,” looks at how blacks and Hispanics have been doing in the United States over the last few years and how they were doing in 1976, the year the National Urban League began issuing its annual report.