Remembering When Fed Chairman Bernanke Blamed The Wealth Gap On Black America, Not White Supremacy

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Written by Ann Brown
In 2009, Fed Chairman Bernanke spoke at Morehouse and said the cause of the wealth gap is due to a lack of financial education on the part of minorities.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Back in 2009, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke at historically Black Morehouse College and told students that the cause of the wealth gap was due to a lack of financial education on the part of minorities. He said American minorities need to “strengthen their financial literacy.” 

When asked about the household wealth gap between whites and Blacks in America, he responded: “It’s absolutely right the difference between minority and white wealth is very significant, and part of that is related to income levels where whites have a higher average income. But even if you control for income level, you find minorities have gathered less wealth.”

And, he added, this is due in part because there is a lack of “financial education” in the Black community.

“There needs to be a broader understanding in minority communities, which haven’t had that much exposure, about saving and building a credit record and being part of the mainstream economy,” Bernanke said.

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Bernanke pointed out that there are too many minorities without bank accounts, and they “borrow from payday lenders and cash checks at check-cashing services,” he said, both of which charge high rates for their services.

“They would be better off in the mainstream banking system,” Bernanke said. “So one thing that could help would be to try to strengthen the financial literacy and financial education” of U.S. minorities.

“He said nothing about the lack of access to inherited wealth, such as inheritances and other intergenerational transfers. Most wealth acquisition today takes place by such asset shifts. Even more astonishing, Bernanke never mentioned the notorious history of white violence that included the seizure, destruction, and appropriation of Black property,” The Grio reported.