William ‘Sandy’ Darity: It’s Time To Stop The Tired Narrative That Black People Can’t Manage Money

Written by Ann Brown

William “Sandy” Darity is a reparations expert who says it’s time to stop repeating the narrative that Black people can’t manage money. The Duke University Economics professor not only supports reparations, he has consistently promoted Black economic empowerment. 

particularly the wealth disparity is structural rather than being a consequence of dysfunctional behavior on the part of Black folks,” Darity told theGrio.

“A lot of people like the dysfunction argument. One reason is because it ultimately places the responsibility for the disadvantage on Black folks themselves. However, in doing so, it also suggests that if Black folks could only do the right things then the right things would happen to Black people,” he added.

And the gap is significant.

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The racial wealth gap is customarily measured at the median for households to bypass the problems that are created by large outliers. At the median, when we’re taking the middle households, the most recent data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) for 2016, I believe, places the white household median at $171,000 and the Black household median at $17,600. So, essentially, at the median, Blacks have 1 cent in wealth to every 10 cents held by whites. [The SCF 2016] probably has the most conservative estimate of the gap. If, for example, you use the Survey of Income and Program Participation from 2014, which I believe is the most recent year that it’s been taken, the ratio is closer to 1 cent for blacks per 13 cents for whites at the median,” he told the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.   

There are various reasons behind the wealth gap, said Darity. “The U.S. government’s denial of 40 acre land grants to newly freed Black people (known by many as ‘40 acres and a mule’), was the first incarnation of economic disparity,” the Grio reported.

“Had that occurred we probably would not be needing to have this conversation today about reparations at all because we would have recenter the wealth position of Black Americans immediately upon emancipation,” Darity explained.

Reparations, noted Darity, would help close the wealth gap. 

“If we had an appropriately designed program where the objective was to build Black assets so that the Black wealth position was comparable to our share of the national population, now that would be truly Earth shattering,” said Darity, who has for three decades written urging the need for reparations policy.