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Why wealth equality remains out of reach for black Americans

By Darrick Hamilton & Trevon Logan ~ The Conversation

Black History Month has become the time to reflect on all the progress black Americans have made, but the sobering reality is that when it comes to wealth – the paramount indicator of economic security – there has been virtually no progress in the last 50 years.

Based on data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance, the typical black family has only 10 cents for every dollar held by the typical white family.

While there is no magic bullet for racism, access to wealth, and the security to pass it down from one generation to the next, would go a long way toward changing the economic trajectory for blacks.

As researchers who study historical and contemporary racial inequality, we mostly conceive of wealth as a maker of success, but its true value is functional: the independence and economic security that it provides.

Out of slavery

Until the end of legal slavery in the U.S., enslaved people were considered valuable assets and a form of wealth. In the South, entrepreneurs and slave owners took loans out against the collateral value of their property in the form of people to fund new businesses.

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