From Made to Flourish:
A few years ago in a powerful op-ed in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof wrote that “the United States now has a greater wealth gap by race than South Africa did during apartheid. Whites in America on average own almost 18 times as much as blacks; in South Africa in 1970, the ratio was about 15 times.”
According to 2013 census data, median net worth for black households in the U.S. is $9,000 compared with $132,000 for white families.
It’s not an accident that we’ve gotten to this place. The reasons are admittedly diverse and complicated, but one thing’s clear. Racism has played a significant part.
Luke Bobo, Made to Flourish’s director of curriculum and resources, recently published a helpful yet unsettling monograph, Race, Economics, and Apologetics: Is There A Connection? In it, he briefly summarizes how decades of racial discrimination in housing, finance, employment, and the criminal justice system have systematically reduced wealth-building opportunities for African-Americans. Banks “redlined” African-American neighborhoods, meaning they avoided making home repair loans to black homeowners. As a result, those properties depreciated in value. Similar actions limited mortgage loans to black applicants, preventing them from homeownership. Discrimination by real estate agents and sellers/landlords further limited where blacks could live, contributing to racially segregated neighborhoods. Jim Crow restricted blacks from many job and education opportunities.
These are not just problems from long ago…