It may seem unbelievable that Black Bostonians have a net worth of $8, while their white peers have $250,000, but the figures from a 2015 Boston Federal Reserve study have been analyzed up and down, and the numbers don’t lie.
The median net worth for non-immigrant African-American households in the Greater Boston region was $8, according to “The Color of Wealth in Boston” report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University, and the New School, The Boston Globe reported.
Marian Wang, senior news producer at Last Week Tonight, was one who didn’t believe the figures. She tweeted, “This $250k vs $8 net-worth figure hit me so hard I had to click thru to double check that it wasn’t a typo.”
Fellow journalist Wendi C. Thomas replied, “What systemic racism looks like, in one chart. We couldn’t design a world that creates and maintains these disparities more perfectly if we tried.”
William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University, was one of the lead investigators of the Fed’s study. “A lot of people have the impression that the major way in which people amass wealth is through savings out of their income,” Darity told the Boston Globe in 2017.
There are numerous reasons Black people in Boston and beyond have been unable to amass wealth.
When New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker introduced the idea of “baby bonds” as a form of reparations in the Senate in 2018, he made note of the wealth gap.
“We know this growing gap has been driven in part by federal policies and a federal tax code that subsidizes asset building for some Americans but fails to extend and expand that opportunity for all Americans,” Booker said in a statement, Boston.com reported.
One of the discriminatory policies that continues to widen the wealth gap is redlining. For decades, many banks denied mortgages to Black people. The practice was once backed by the U.S. government and started in the 1930s, CBS News reported.
Kim Janey, Boston’s new mayor, knows all too well about discrimination against Black Bostonians.
As a young girl, she was bused to school. “I had no idea what would be in store,” she told the New York Times. “When I finally sat on the school bus and faced angry mobs of people, had rocks thrown at our bus, racial slurs hurled at us, I was not expecting that. And there’s nothing that can prepare you for that.”
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As Boston’s first Black woman mayor, Janey vows to address the city’s wealth gap, Democracy Now reported.
“Today, in the city of Boston, we have an enormous wealth gap. The median net worth for Black families is just $8. Eight dollars is not an accident. It is the product of discriminatory policies that we have all inherited. We need to call it out, and we need to institute new policies to address it.”
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