In this chapter, the authors explore different ways in which wealth disparities affect African Americans. The first thing that was discussed is income and how it is measured. Blue collar employees, people who work in professions such as retail that don’t require education above high school, measure their income by the dollars per hour that they make. White collar employees, people who hold higher positions such as CEOs that do require higher education, measure their income by their monthly salary. As we measure wealth, it is important to differentiate it from income. Wealth is defined as the total of one’s assets minus debts that they accumulate. Wealth used to be measured as someone’s assets including property, stocks, etc. These were not used to measure a person’s net worth, making the measurement of wealth much more inflated than their actual wealth. The authors note that most Americans can easily report their income, while reporting wealth would likely require consulting documents since measuring wealth does require taking out the debts you may have.
Another way that wealth disparities affect African Americans is through occupational segregation. Occupational segregation is caused by different factors such as legacy, blocked access, discrimination, and inadequate preparation. One major outcome of occupational segregation is disparities in income. One of these disparities is that African Americans only earn 62% of what Whites earn. In reading this, I assumed that there has to be some underlying reason for this that I wasn’t understanding. But, one huge effect of this is that African Americans are twice as likely to be poor. There are many reasons for this, the first and most likely one being that income is distributed unevenly in the population, with median income masking the disparity at the top of the income distribution. This is an issue as the income gap between African Americans and Whites is 420 times between salaries. To put it into numbers, African Americans hold on average $57 in wealth compared to $24,000 by their White counterparts. This is a much bigger gap than I expected, which makes it much more horrifying in my opinion. It’s sad that we still haven’t come very far in terms of how we treat African Americans in the job market. This gap can make it very difficult for African Americans to pursue the American Dream. The four key components of the American Dream are owning a single-family home, being able to afford quality child care, being able to afford a college education for one’s children, and being able to afford full health insurance. The problem with this is that in either the current or previous chapters, we have discussed how African Americans can’t do these things because of their situations. An important part of this I’d like to discuss is housing because having housing is the foundation for other things to come. Housing is highly selective of African Americans in terms of mortgages. African Americans lose $25 billion annually due to predatory mortgage practices, which is really upsetting because that is a very high number. Many African Americans are incapable of living the American Dream and it’s not even their fault.
Another large reason that this is the case is because of how society views African Americans in terms of wealth and welfare. Society sees African Americans as the people who utilize welfare the most. The problem with this view is that it isn’t true, but the welfare system continues to target poor Black families. Welfare is financial assistance provided to help low-income families with basic necessities such as food, housing, healthcare, and more. Wealth, on the other hand, is obtained from working and receiving assets contributing to wealth level. It is terribly difficult for African Americans to receive wealth because it is so difficult to get a job and so on. It’s sad that this is the case in many facets of life for African Americans.