When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863, the black community owned less than 1% of the total wealth of the United States, said the task force charged with studying and developing reparation proposals for Afro people. -Americans at its fourth meeting.
Mehrsa Baradaran, a professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, shared the statistics during the “Racism in Banking, Tax and Labor” portion of the two-day meeting on October 13.
From his perspective, the power of wealth and personal income is still unevenly distributed. And this inequality, she says, has always been permitted, preserved and exacerbated by laws and government policies.
“Over 150 years later, that number has barely budged,” Baradaran told the task force, tracing the wealth gap from the post-Civil War period when President Lincoln granted formerly enslaved blacks their freedom until today.
“The gap between the average wealth of whites and the wealth of blacks has actually widened in recent decades. Today, at all socio-economic levels, black families have a fraction of the wealth of white families, ”she said.
Baradaran has written a series of entries and books on banking law, financial inclusion, inequality, and the racial wealth gap. Her scholarship includes the books “How the Other Half Banks” and “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap”, both published by Harvard University Press.
Baradaran has also published several articles on race and economics, including “Jim Crow Credit” in the Irvine Law Review, “Regulation by Hypothetical” in the Vanderbilt Law Review and “How the Poor Got Cut Out of Banking” in the Emory Law Journal. .
A 43 year old immigrant born in Orumieh, Iran, Baradaran, testified that her work on the wealth gap in America was conducted from a “research angle” and she respectfully “submitted” her testimony “from that angle” , did she say.
In her research, Baradaran explained that she discovered an intentional system of financial oppression.
“This wealth chasm does not decrease with income or with education. In other words, it is a wealth gap which is roughly linked to a history of exclusion and exploitation and which should not be filled with higher education and higher incomes ”, Baradaran said.
According to a January 2020 report, the Public Policy Institute of California said African American and Latino families made up 12% of those with incomes above the state’s 90th percentile, despite making up 43% of all families in California.
Additionally, PPIC reported that these disparities reflect the fact that African American and Latino adults are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and have higher unemployment rates, and African American adults are less likely to be in. the active population.
Many issues support these activities which range from disparities in education, local employment opportunities and incarceration to discrimination in the labor market, according to PPIC.
“While California’s economy outperforms the nation, its level of income inequality exceeds that of all but five of the states,” the report said.
“Without targeted policies, it will continue to grow,” Baradaran said of the wealth gap. “And I want to be clear on how this wealth gap will continue to grow. It was created, maintained and perpetuated by public policies at the federal, state and local levels. Black men and women have been excluded from most of the middle class avenues of design. Black homes, farms and economies did not enjoy the full protection of the law. Especially since these properties have been subjected to racial terrorism. The American middle class was not created that way (to support black communities).
A June 2018 discussion paper from the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute written by economists familiar with moderate to low black wealth corroborates Baradaran’s assessment.
Posted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the report’s authors wrote that strategies to deny black people access to wealth began at the start of the Reconstruction era, developed around the civil rights movement. and resurfaced around the financial crisis of the late 2000s.
Written by Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike I. Steins, “Income and Wealth Inequality in America, 1949-2016” explains an in-depth analysis of racial inequalities, before and after civil rights.
Economists wrote that the median black household has less than 11% of the wealth of the median white household, which is around $ 15,000 compared to $ 140,000 at 2016 prices.
“The overall summary is grim,” the report says. “Historical data also reveals that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years.”
Baradaran recently participated in the virtual symposium “Racism and the Economy: Focusing on the Wealth Gap” hosted by 12 District Banks of the Federal Reserve System, which includes the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Some positive aspects are generally not included in discussions of the challenges blacks have historically faced in their efforts to gain wealth, Baradaran said. Many African Americans, especially in California, have succeeded in overthrowing the systems that discriminated against them.
“Black institutions have been creative and innovative in serving their communities in a hostile climate,” Baradaran said. “I wrote a book on the long history of entrepreneurship, self-help and mutual upliftment. Historically, black colleges and universities have provided stellar education, and black banks have supported black businesses, churches, and families. “
California Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, titled “The Task Force to Study and Develop Redress Proposals for African Americans,” established a nine-member commission to investigate inequalities in education, work, wealth, housing, taxation and environmental justice.
All of these areas were covered by expert testimony during the two-day meeting held on October 12-13. The task force is tasked with exploring California’s involvement in slavery, segregation, and the historic denial of the constitutional rights of black citizens.
Fifty years after the federal fair housing law eliminated racial discrimination in lending, the black community continues to be denied mortgages at much higher rates than their white counterparts.
“Banks and businesses have engaged in lending and hiring practices that have helped solidify patterns of racial inequality,” Jacqueline Jones, professor of history at the University of Texas, told the group. job.
The Racism in Banking, Taxation and Labor segment also featured testimonials from Williams Spriggs (former chair of the economics department at Howard University. Spriggs is now AFL-CIO chief economist), Thomas Craemer (professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut) and Lawrence Lucas (Coalition of Minority Employees of the United States Department of Agriculture).
The task force to study and develop redress proposals for African Americans will hold its fifth and final meeting of 2021 on December 6-7.