During his first speech to Congress, President Joe Biden hailed the middle class and credited it with building America while touting his American Jobs Plan as “a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”
“Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built the country,” he said, according to a New York Times report.
Not so fast, said Temple University professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. The middle class didn’t build America, slaves did.
Black people have systematically been blocked from achieving a solid middle-class status — something that is established by generational wealth.
The median net wealth for white families in 2016 was $171,000; for Black families, it was $17,000. Black people, who make up 14 percent of the population, currently hold less than 3 percent of the country’s total wealth.
“Because of intersecting racist policies and practices — redlining, continued segregation in schools, hyper-surveillance and brutality by law enforcement, and the policing of Black bodies, just to start — wealth has been far more difficult for Black Americans to accumulate,” author Anne Helen Petersen wrote for Vox. Petersen writes the newsletter Culture Study and is the author of “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.”
Hill tweeted, “I need Joe Biden to stop saying ‘the Middle Class built this country.’ It’s a lie. Enslaved Africans built this country. It’s not debatable. And ignoring that fact is not only dishonest and disrespectful, but reflective of a deeply troublesome politics.”
In response to Hill’s tweet, Robert ToTeras@roberttoteras said, “Agreed! But I actually think it’s worse than that: When pols shovel shit about the middle class, they’re usually referring 2 middle class post-war boom in the mid-20th century. But Black people were left out of that because of job discrimination & redlining. It’s an evil legacy.”
Some on social media challenged Hill, however.
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Allen @KingAllenII tweeted, “The truth & the problem is no one people built this country. Multiple people groups contributed to the development of this nation. For any one group to claim exclusivity to having done so is to promote a false narrative. Now, QUANTIFYING contributions is a DIFFERENT conversation.”
And Marq McMillian @BravetheBearLA was OK with what Biden said: “I’m the last person to defend Joe Biden, but ‘middle class’ is a mid 20th century term. And he’s obviously speaking in the context of the current debate over ‘corporations vs workers’. I have no issue with it.”
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