The existence of racial and ethnic inequalities in American society are still present. People of color face structural barriers when it comes to securing quality housing, income inequality, and employment. Statistically, African American’s have struggled in each of these categories, while whites haven’t been nearly affect with these types of conditions.
The persistent disparity between the white and black population are seen in homeownership.
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According to Urban Institute, “Between 1999 and 2015, white young adults ages 18 to 34 had the highest homeownership rate of any racial or ethnic group, at 42 percent, while only 18 percent of black young adults were homeowners. The biggest reason for this is having wealthy parents.
Having wealthy parents significantly increases the chances of a young adult to own a home. In other words, young adults who are raised in wealthy households are taught the advantages of homeownership and often help their children navigate into purchasing a house and financing. Now as we look at the percentage between the black and white community, there is a twelve percent black-white gap that is explained by parental homeownership and wealth. “Research shows that adult children of wealthier families get financial support with their down payments from their family (Urban Institute). As for black parents, homeownership is 35 percent below white homeownership (49 vs 84 percent), while their median income is 15 times smaller ($14,400 vs $215,000).
Another reason why we see a disparity in homeownership between the white and black community is within homeownership stability. For white people, their stability rate is at 72 percent compared to the black’s 31 percent. In other words, not only are black parents less likely to own, they are also less likely to remain as homeowners. This concludes that black parents are more likely to move towards renting than staying as a homeowner, which makes it appear very unlikely for their children to become homeowners.
Wealth provides all sorts of opportunities for American families. One can say, wealth makes life easier and better to live as it allows people to transition between jobs, neighborhoods, or even respond to any emergency situations with ease. More importantly, wealth is the complete measure of a family’s future economic well-being. Unfortunately, wealth in America is unequally distributed between the white and black community. For African Americans, they only have a small fraction of the wealth if compared to white families, leaving them with far less opportunity for growth. For example, “Black households have far less access to tax-advantaged forms of savings, due in part to a long history of employment discrimination and other discriminatory practices (American Progress).
As stated in the last paragraph, due to the low amount of black homeownership, they would then have less access to savings and tax benefits from owning a home. Another reason for the disparity of wealth between the two races is within labor market discrimination and segregation. It forces blacks to have less access to stable jobs, good wages, and retirement benefits from their jobs, which are all crucial for American families to have access to their savings. As for tax advantages, the current tax code doesn’t really help much with those who have a lower income, and because African Americans tend to have lower incomes, they receive fewer tax benefits even when they are homeowners or have an IRA.
Throughout American history, wealth was never available for African Americans. Their journey to the American Dream all began with slavery, which, by the way, benefited the whites to profit off of them. Now with more than half a century gone by, America has yet to fully compensate for their sins. The wealth disparity between these two races can be traced back to public policies, from slavery to Jim Crow, school segregation, and The War on Drugs. These types of polices have consistently hindered African Americans from having access to opportunities or to truly know what it’s like to live the American Dream.
Statistically, African Americans systematically have less wealth than whites. According to American Progress, “The median black wealth in 2016 amounted to $13,460?”less than 10 percent of the $142,180 median white wealth. Throughout decades, the black and white wealth gap has always stayed the same. If we look at the best-case scenario for the past 30 years, blacks had one-sixth of the median income of whites which occurred in 1998. That wasn’t until the Great Recession of 2007 where we saw the wealth gap increase even more rapidly. “In 2016, median black wealth stood at $13,460?”about half of the median black wealth recorded just before the Great Recession. On the contrast, “median white wealth was only one-quarter less than it was prior to the Great Recession, declining from $188,756 to $142,180 (American Progress). In other words, The Great Recession did far greater damage to black wealth than it did to white wealth, which widened the racial wealth gap even further over the past decade.
The wealth gap between black and white is much of a result of institutionalized obstacles that blacks have to face in order for them to succeed. For instance, if we look at assets, research shows that the U.S. tax code prioritizes savings in certain assets over any other. These savings include 401k’s and IRAs, as well as home mortgages. The correlation is that blacks are less likely to have a job that carries these types of benefits due to the history of occupational segregation. Another racial difference exists in debt. Blacks typically have more costly debt such as student loans, car loans, and credit card debt then whites. They also tend to have trouble applying for less costly loans, for instance in the case with mortgage loans. Overall, the black and white wealth gap reflects differences both in assets and in debt.
And while higher education and increased income offer some benefits, they are insufficient to close the wealth gap.
Throughout American history, the poverty line between blacks and whites have remained relatively the same. African Americans are more likely to experience poverty at a ratio of 1 to 4 compared to whites at 1 to 10. Although whites are the majority of the U.S. population, they make up most of the total poverty population. This disparity highlights why race relations have a gap in employment and wealth. Statistically, “The employment rate for African American men has been 11 to 15 percentage points lower than that for whites in every month since January 2000 (Stanford).
When looked during the Great Recession, the employment rates for African Americans plummeted even further and recovered much slower than whites did.
The deck is stacked against blacks and all can be explained by where they were born. African Americans are not likely to be born into well suited lifestyles, in this case, having family wealth, education and income. Rather, they are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods with high crime rates and no access to high-quality education. Of course, these conditions wouldn’t eliminate racial and ethnic inequalities, but sure would help reduce them. Grusky, from Stanford University, puts it simply, “when the race begins, everyone should be lined up at the same starting place. Although, this commitment is not being honored and we don’t even come close to living up to what we claim matters to us.
Recently, under the Trump’s Administration, unemployment rate in the black community has reached it’s lowest point in US history, while also the gap between black and white unemployment in the US has also sunken to a record low. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the share of jobless African Americans in the labor force fell to 7.1%, the lowest level since April 2000. According to Business Insider article, it states that, “While the unemployment rates for workers of color remain far higher than for white non-Hispanic workers, the black unemployment rate has been falling faster than overall unemployment over the last year.” If this keeps on trending in the right direction, there will be an increase in opportunities for African Americans.
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