White-Black Wealth Gap Grows

Published March 23, 2009

For every dollar of wealth held by an average White family, a Black family has only a dime, two cents less than a half-decade earlier, according to a report in The Washington Post.

In other words, the wealth gap between Whites and Blacks is widening faster than ever. These findings in the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which reports on family assets and liabilities, show that the United States is far from being a “post-racial society” as some suggest now that the nation has elected an African-American president.

The reason for the gap, according the Post report, is that White families historically have been better able to reap the benefits of government support and tax-paid subsidies, which helped them build assets. This is clear when one considers rules for homeownership.

During the Depression, the Post reports, the Home Owners’ Loan Corp. was established to rescue families from home foreclosure, but not a single one of those loans went to a Black or Hispanic family.

“The [B]lack section of Detroit was simply excluded. After World War II, GIs received government-subsidized home mortgages, but there was no oversight to ensure that soldiers of color got their fair share.” Citing Ira Katznelson's "When Affirmative Action Was White," the Post reports that “of the 67,000 mortgages issued under the GI Bill in New York and northern New Jersey, 66,900 went to [W]hite veterans.”

Written by BET.com Staff

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