Could Reparations For American Descendants Of Slavery Narrow The Racial Wealth Gap?

Avatar
Written by Ann Brown
reparations
By Autumn Keiko

Talk of reparations is really heating up, so much so it was a major topic discussed at the most recent debates for the 2020 Democratic candidates. One of the most important aspects of reparations is that it might help close the growing wealth gap between whites and Blacks in America.

The wealth gap represents “hundreds of years of systematic mistreatment of Blacks, often enacted and sanctioned by public policy. From slavery to current-day labor, housing and credit market discrimination, African-Americans have encountered massive obstacles to accumulating the same amount of wealth as whites,” Forbes reported.

The numbers tell the story of the wealth gap. In 2016, African-American households had a median wealth of $17,100 — about one tenth of that of whites, who had a median wealth of $170,810. And education, while it closed the gap some, it doesn’t make that much difference. “The median African-American household with a college degree had $68,200 in wealth in 2016. Whites with a college degree had almost six times that much wealth — $398,170 – that year,” Forbes reported.

Wealth is needed to move up in society. It is needed to purchase a house, to become an entrepreneur, to send children to college, among other things. And it is needed to build wealth. 

“There are at least two ways to gauge the magnitude of the gulf. First, black Americans hold less than three percent of the nation’s wealth, despite constituting 12 to 13 percent of the nation’s population. Second, data from the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that the average black household has a net worth $800,000 less than the average white household,” Newsweek reported.

But reparations alone won’t close the gap. “Eliminating the racial wealth gap then requires large-scale policy interventions that help African-Americans in particular to build wealth,” Forbes reported.