“The recession, which included a collapse in home values and high unemployment, took the greatest toll on minority wealth. From 2005 to 2009, median wealth fell by 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among Blacks, compared with 16 percent among Whites. The losses left Hispanic and Black wealth at their lowest levels in at least 25 years.”# Sadly, these numbers are not surprising. There are any number of reasons for these statistics, but our country’s history also helps to explain these numbers. Wealth acquisition began during the inception of The United States and some were on the receiving end of that wealth while others were not, some were allowed to own property while others were not, and later some were allowed to aspire to have a white-collar career while others had to take any work they could find?
Whites were allowed to build a legacy of wealth long before Black people could legally lay the foundation of financial stability, and Black people have been playing economic catch-up ever since. Thomas Shapiro, a law and social policy professor who directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy in Waltham, MA, said in a recent interview, “… minorities tend to be more recent homeowners, who have had less time to build up home equity. Meanwhile, white families tend to own other assets in addition to homes, which add to their wealth…”# A recent Pew Study reported, “Whites are three to four times as likely as Hispanics and Blacks to own stocks and mutual fund shares.”# The reason behind these findings is not that minorities are simply uninterested in owning other assets in additions to their homes but unfortunately, Blacks, and in certain cases other minority populations, just haven’t had that legacy until recently.
When the “recession” first began, it was clear that poor people would feel its effects the most, and in the United States the poor are disproportionately minorities. It is unfortunate that in the United States we protect the rich, and seem to demonize the poor. Even in the face of financial ruin our government still refuses to raise taxes for those who can afford it. This is becoming common knowledge when you have billionaire’s like Warren Buffest requesting to be taxed more! Meanwhile, we are stripping poor people of benefits left and right. We have painted this picture that those who are successful, ie rich, are so because they worked hard and they earned it and those who are poor are just the opposite… lazy, and content living off of the government. We treat wealth of lack thereof like a zero-sum game though we know nothing is ever just plain black or white.
We have got to end the war on poor people, and we have got to stop coddling the rich. We need to ask the rich to do more. Because they can! It is ludicrous that we are in the financial bind that we are in right now in this country, and instead of turning to those who have it within their power to put a major dent in our deficit; we crack down on the poor, who are already struggling. The gap between Black and White wealth did not happen overnight and will not end overnight. However, the place to begin is by requiring all Americans to bear the brunt of the burden.