Skip to comments.A House Divided (Why Middle-Class Blacks Have Less Wealth)
Posted on 01/25/2013 6:13:17 AM PST by Sir Napsalot
(snip) In the United States, where real estate is the single largest source of asset accumulation for the middle class, the story of the Sugrues and the Smiths goes a long way to explaining the expanding disparities between white and black wealth. The two familieslike many Americansinvested in real estate both for its use value and as a gamble on the future. But one family did far, far better than the other.
Every once in a while, a scholarly book fundamentally shifts how we understand a problem. One of those books was published in 1995, .... Sociologists Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiros Black Wealth/White Wealth stepped into a stale debate about race, class, and inequality in the United States with new data and a fresh perspective. The authors acknowledged the gains of the civil rights era: Black-white income gaps had narrowed. Minorities were better represented at elite institutions of higher education than could have been imagined in 1960. ....
But (they) told another story, a sobering one about the persistent gap between black and white wealth. They methodically gathered and analyzed data about household assets, like real estate holdings, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, cars, and other property, that constitute a familys portfolio. Their findings were staggering: despite all of the gains of the previous quarter century, the median black family had only 8 percent of the household wealth of the median white family. The asset gap was still strikingly wide among middle-class and wealthy blacks, who, despite their high incomes, still had about a third the assets of comparable whites.
The racial wealth gap has several specific causes beyond the broad legacy of systematic racial segregation, discrimination, and unequal opportunity. Wealth is passed down from generation to generationeven if only modestly. ......
...(Read the very long article, please.)
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonmonthly.com ...
But for all of the talk about hope and change, the racial wealth gap has not only persisted, it has worsened. And it is this gap that is the most powerful measure of differential well-being by race. Wealth has profound consequences throughout the life cycle, from putting a down payment on a first home to spending your last days in a skilled nursing facility. Starting a business? Paying for college tuition? Making ends meet when youve lost your job? Covering extraordinary medical expenses? Retiring? Assets matter.
On each of these counts, minorities face an insecure present and a very precarious future. Consider just one measure: the Brandeis Institute on Assets and Social Policy estimates that only 8 percent of black seniors and only 4 percent of Latino seniors have sufficient economic resources to be economically secure in retirement. These seniors, write a team of Brandeis scholars, do not just have to watch their pennies; they are truly struggling every day, forgoing basic expenditures, such as medical appointments and household maintenance, just to make ends meet.
There are many white folks who are not as fortunate as my parents were, and even the modest legacy they were able to build may be becoming increasingly rare among younger generations of Americans of all races. Still, like most whites, I am a beneficiary of the racial wealth gap. And until that gap narrows, we cant begin to talk about the dawning of a post-racial America.
The author never explained why middle-class blacks COULD NOT accumulate wealth with same income whites. So same income whites may start out with more ‘assets’ than blacks, but with proper and wise investment, who's to say the blacks can't be just as wealthy when they retire.
There will always be a gap for the race mongers to exploit. When one is closed, the next will be found.
This may be no more than the result of different tendencies in different cultures with respect to saving money.
On another note, one should take into account that a very disproportionate part of the black middle class are government employees at some level. So they have a huge amount of wealth accumulated in the pensions and retirement plans the taxpayers are on the hook for. I’m sure those were not counted in this study.
Because it is BS.
This is true of all races,
but the closer one is to zero worth,
the more corrosive it is
I used to know a guy years ago who was black. He was a really good guy and had made something of himself, he worked two jobs to support his family. His wife wasn’t comfortable living in a white neighborhood so he bought a house in a black neighborhood. While my house appreciated, he was chasing off thugs and watching his house lose value.
It isn’t all a racial thing, it’s also cultural thing. It wasn’t anything he was doing in particular and his falling real estate value had nothing to do with his personal behaviour.
Detroit is hardly a representative example. Harlem property values have risen about those in NYC as a whole over the same period.
And who’s to say that either black or white should choose to buy property in an area where cultural dysfunction is high?
Many immigrant groups, from various Asian populations to the Irish, arrived in the same period with no accumulated wealth—and yet industriously accumulated same.
As a rule, I don’t listen to any liberal talking about our having to right the advantages of which he uses his own circumstances as the example—unless he has already done so with redistribution of his own resources at the level he believes to be ideal.
Esp. the ‘black communities’ had been exploited by blacks and liberals for all its worth for so long. All that taxpayer money pouring into ‘poor’ neighborhood made things worse.
It is not the ‘wealth gap’ as the author suggested (maybe some but minor part) to keep us from a ‘post-racial’ country.
Exactly. My total wealth on graduating from law school consisted of a used car, one shotgun, an electric typewriter, and a modest wardrobe, plus a $700 (that’s right, seven hundred dollars; it was 1967) student loan debt. Much of the wealth I’ve acculmulated over the years has been by saving from muy earnings. Race had little, if anything, to do with that.
That is my point. He wasn’t blaming anybody for his situation, but his net worth was adversely affected by the behaviour of others, not racism but the behaviour of a class of people that he lived around.
He decision to go along with his wife's unwise desire to live in a black neighborhood is part of "personal behavior".
There are multiple causes of the "wealth gap", which include:
1) More working in government jobs, where the net present value of the pension is not counted as "wealth".
2) Higher likelihood of having poor relatives who expect "help".
3) Cultural propensity to spend money on "flash" (nice cars, clothing, eating out) rather than saving/investing.
But you are right, I have not seen recent studies taking into account of blacks (or whites) in unions (government or otherwise) and their exempt status in various government taxation/protection schemes.
Most social study with researchers “automatically” assume government and/or municipal employees with lower than ‘industry (i.e. private sector)’ income. Yet story after story told us it is not true.
From the author's point of view, you still have benefited from your parents' (and previous generation's) accumulated wealth.
Even though you started out on your own, the 'safety net' was still there.
At the time there wasn’t much at all. They has an 800 sq. foot house with 2 bed rooms and one bath room. Indeed, they were wallowing in ill-gotten white man’s wealth.
He should have kept the house and lost the wife!
The Bell Curve is probably the best explanation.
People who think about tomorrow are generally more prepared for it. Blacks have been taught to presume that there is always a safety net, successful people prudently act as if there is no net. Guess who does better in the long run. In his inaugural, Obama boldly stated that people do better when they can do whatever they want, knowing there will never be consequence, but the opposite is born out.
The successful blacks that I know all lament about how their family and friends treat every bit of extra cash as a windfall, saving nothing for tomorrow.
Yes, many whites do this to and we refer to them as worthless.
However, it would be a saint for his family still feel grateful for what they have, and not be bitter about ‘others’.
For myself and everyone I know — we weren’t handed a “grub-stake”. I don’t know anyone who grew up with wealthy parents. Everybody worked and lived *below* their means.
I call “BULL-BUTTER” on this article. It seems to go into every possible racial aspect to explain the gap. Yet it never pauses to reflect on decision-making skills.
I left home and entered the service with the clothes on my back, along with two changes of clothes and a shaving kit in a small duffle. I had emptied out my bank account (earned working) and had it in my wallet (less than $100).
From that point on, I neither asked for, nor was given any financial support or advice from my family. It was all me. It was the things I learned, the decisions I made and the deals I negotiated. I am where I am, not because of the color of my skin but because of my ability, drive and courage to seize opportunities that I spotted. No-one has ever come to me offering anything; I’ve had to see the opportunity and go after it.
And get this: I don’t have any personal friends — regardless of race — who are much (if any) different from me. Everyone I know is self-made, doing well and happy.
If there is someone who has *consistently* chosen poorly, or couldn’t spot an opportunity if you slapped them upside the head with it, I don’t see how they can blame that on their race. Everyone makes bad decisions. Those who survive & thrive *learn* from them. Those who can’t seem to get it together will fail. It’s an indisputable fact of the human condition.
How about those race-hustlers start with tearing down the hip-hop culture that glorifies thug-life? How about preaching self-responsibility? How about belittling “ebonics”, dragging pants & instant-gratification and glorifying living below your means, saving your pennies and freely-given mutual respect? Just for starters.
I guess I’m just a “racist”.
Obama said 'They didn't build that', apparently a majority agreed. And that is why it is so important to point out the difference of makes vs takers.
Obama ignore that a major majority of the funding for government to build the infrastructure (and hence benefited you) came from makers, and where is the inequality of that?
Mayor Bing has attempted to arrest the death spiral that Coleman Young started and corrupt mayors like Kwame Kilpatrick continued. He his merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The damage is done and cannot be repaired. The tax base is gone. The city can barely pay its bills. The city and Detroit teacher's unions continue to maintain and expand their stranglehold.
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