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Breaking Down America’s Wealth in Black and White

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In one of the most powerful pieces you will see this black history month, a new article released by Demos.org puts our country’s true financial reality in context.  Demos does this by  using Federal Reserve data to create several charts that show how clearly wealth is divided along racial lines in the United States.

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The article uses household data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, which reveals that nearly 4 Million white households have more than $2.4 million in assets, while only 700,000 black households have more than just $350,000 in net worth.  If we look a tier down over 8 million white homes have more than $1.2 million, while out of 14 million black homes, less than 140,000 African American households are at this threshold. 

These numbers show that despite a decadent veil which gives a perception of black wealth through entertainment, wealth in America is far from diverse. I recently wrote the below piece contextualizing this data’s implications.

Originally published on Huffington Post:

Several evaluations of black and white wealth in America have surfaced over the past several months. Some such as the National Urban League’s “State of Black of America” have used compiled data to create indexes. Others, like that of the Pew Research Center have used median net worth to show black families in whole are worth far less than white families. Yet, these tools only tell part of the economic story. To truly understand the difference in economic access, you must look at the top of American wealth, and be honest about what you find.

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 several thousand 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.

It is key to understand that the top one percent (to name a few things) are the people likely:

 

If this group is nearly all white, it leads to much the same demographic for the advantaged economic tiers below the top one percent. This group disseminates the access to opportunity for the rest of society across all industries.

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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.”

Worth

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.

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, Black America in actuality is largely cut off from participation in America’s riches.

While the symbolism of Beyonce’s recent proclamation during her performance of Formation at the Super Bowl, “You might just be a black Bill Gates in the making…” held some meaning for viewers, in reality black America is really just trying to find out if it can be part of the American dream in the twenty first century.

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

This tells a story of access and opportunity and the lasting effect of a history ripe with dissemination of advantage based on color. If nearly all of the American wealth is in white households, how do we ever expect to achieve access for all?

Join the discussion @tonetalks youtube channel


Antonio Moore is an attorney based in Los Angeles, is one of the producers of the documentary Freeway: Crack in the System. He has contributed pieces to the Grio, Huffington Post, and Inequality.org on the topics of race, mass incarceration, and economics.

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Man Hoses Neighbor For Berating Another Neighbor Over Her Black Lives Matter Flag (Watch)

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Ian Doherty of Austin, TX sprays his neighbor for yelling at another neighbor over her Black Lives Matter sign

*Video of a southwest Austin man spraying a woman with a hose after she berated another neighbor for having a Black Lives Matter flag in her yard has gone viral.

Ian Doherty told the local NBC affiliate that he was standing up to a bully during the Oct. 7 incident. He, along with multiple neighbors, heard the woman screaming about the flag and saying “white lives matter” during the altercation. The argument lasted about 30 minutes, Doherty said.

Doherty said he went outside and asked the woman to stop yelling at his neighbor. That’s when she started snapping at him. Ten minutes later, he said he got the hose and sprinkler out. Videos shot by neighbors show him first threatening to spray her, hoping she would leave. It only prompted her to walk on his lawn and try to grab it. That’s when he got to spraying.

As the video shows, the more she kept coming, the more he sprayed her – to the point where she kept slipping on the curb in her attempts to stop him.

The video originally posted on Facebook and Reddit has been viewed over 8 million times on TikTok, has more than 15,000 upvotes on Reddit and more than 72,000 views on Facebook.

Watch below:

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Some Texas Longhorn Band Members Refuse to Play Alma Mater Song over Minstrel Ties (Watch)

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Texas Longhorn Alumni Band

*The University of Texas Longhorn Band will not play their traditional alma mater song “The Eyes of Texas” at Saturday’s football game against Baylor University after a survey of members revealed several students aren’t willing to play it.

The song has divided the university community in recent months over its ties to minstrel shows where performers wore blackface. According to ABC13, the Daily Texan reported that a message sent to band members by leader Scott Hanna said the survey results wouldn’t affect whether the band performs at future games. The band has yet to play at a football game this season, due to safety restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.t

Band members are “evenly divided” over playing the song, the student newspaper reported, but responses from certain instrument sections would prevent the band from playing this week. The message from Hanna said many band members wanted to have further discussions about the song, which he said he would facilitate.

Student athletes asked UT-Austin to drop the school song during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, among other demands, threatening to forgo participation in recruiting and donor events. The university responded with plans to boost Black student enrollment and recruitment, but it kept the song and pledged to educate visitors and students on its history and context.

Below is a brief rundown of the song’s racist past.

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Attorney Ben Crump Issues Statement About Police Violence Against Protestors in Lagos Nigeria

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Nigeria anti-police protests

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump released the following statement in response to Nigerian security forces opening fire on peaceful protestors last night in Lagos, Nigeria:

“It is unacceptable for a government to brutalize and murder its own people. We are calling for transparency and accountability from the Lagos government on the cruel and unnecessary violence used against these peaceful protestors.

“The ability for citizens to demonstrate safely when they see injustice within their government should be a sacred right across the globe. When our brothers and sisters abroad cannot speak out without fearing for their lives, it is clear we are dealing with an international human rights violation that demands we raise our voices.”

MORE NEWS: Dr. Jennifer Satterfield-Siegel: It’s ‘Very Rewarding’ Being An African American NASCAR Team Owner

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Benjamin Crump

ABOUT BEN CRUMP LAW

Through his work, nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump has spearheaded a legal movement to better protect the rights of marginalized citizens. He has led landscape-changing civil rights cases and represented clients in a wide range of areas including civil rights, personal injury, labor and employment, class actions, and more. Ben Crump Law is dedicated to holding the powerful accountable. For more information, visit www.bencrump.com.

 

 

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