Fortune 400 Hold Wealth Equal to All of Black America

An analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies demonstrates the economic power of the richest people.

Posted: 01/21/2014 06:29 PM EST

The billionaires on the Fortune 400 list have a level of wealth that is equal to all of the Black population of the United States.

That was the finding of an analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington-based public policy organization.

"The net worth of just 400 billionaires, a group that could fit into a high school gym, is on par with the collective wealth of our more than 14 million African-American households,” said Bob Lord, who headed the analysis for the institute. Both groups possess some $2 trillion, about 3 percent of our national net worth of $77 trillion."

He said that Oprah Winfrey, with a net worth of $2.9 billion, ranking her 184th on the Forbes list. She is also one of seven Black billionaires in the world.

The institute pointed out that there has been consistent disparities in the net worth of white Americans and that of African-Americans and Latinos. The rate of homeownership for white Americans is 73.3 percent, compared with 43.1 percent for African-Americans and 47.6 percent for Latinos.

Economics experts say the disparity is rooted in deep-seated historical roots.

“When you talk about African-American net worth, you have to realize that, when you start from the bottom, you have a long way to go to catch up,” said Donald R. Andrews, the dean of the College of Business at Southern University in Louisiana, in an interview with BET.com.

“When you talk about a population that started in this country as property that was forbidden from reading and writing, you have some systemic problems that don’t go away overnight,” Andrews said.

“When you add to it issues of voting rights and other laws regarding discrimination and access, you’re only talking about 40 to 50 years that African-Americans have had any viable economic role in American society.”

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Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan

 (Photo: Oleg Prikhodko/Getty Images)

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