The Racial Wealth Gap: What Does It Mean For You? By Janice Parker

Janice ParkerFor as long as most of us can remember, the United States has been a beacon of economic growth and opportunities, but not all Americans have benefitted equally. Today, the median net wealth of white households is 10 times greater than that of Hispanic households and 13 times greater than that of black households, thus creating what we know as the racial wealth gap.

Please don’t be misled and think this problem doesn’t affect all of us, because it does; including households other than minorities. By 2043, it is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau that the majority of the U.S. population will be composed of people of color – sadly many of whom have never had the opportunity to be a part of a financially secure middle class.

To build the economy of tomorrow, we need to address the challenges of today. At times it can appear to be overwhelming just in our communities alone, so it’s understandable how one can easily become discouraged and lack hope. Well, I’m writing to tell you that there is hope! As then Senate candidate, Barack Obama delivered during his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, entitled The Audacity of Hope…I’m asking my city to rise up and have the “Audacity of Hope!”

Take time to educate yourself on the issues, root causes, solutions and key players of change….YOU! Here are just a few of the many challenges that we face to close the racial wealth gap.

Policy Interventions: This task can be accomplished by making your voice heard. Get to know your local and state civic leaders and share your concerns. More importantly hold them accountable to action.

Fix Tax Codes: Only by reforming the U.S. tax code and redeploying the more than half-trillion dollars spent on unfair tax programs can we ensure that all families—particularly households of color—have the same opportunities to build wealth that wealthy families currently enjoy.

Expand Financial Access: Many households of color lack access to safe and affordable financial products and services. Nearly two-thirds of households of color lack the savings to sustain them during a long-term financial emergency and rely on high-cost financial products and services to carry out everyday banking needs like check cashing stores and payday loans.

Expand Access to Economic Opportunities: Financial access is only part of the problem – households of color also face growing gaps in assets and wealth ownership like homes, businesses and college degrees.

Build and Rebuild Financial Identities: Many households of color are credit invisible or have subprime credit. These are consumers with little or no credit history or consumers with credit scores at 640 or less on the FICO scales, making them ineligible to borrow money at prime rates.

Hosea 4:6 – “My people perish for lack of knowledge” People perish not because of lack of faith; they perish because of lack of knowledge, so educate yourself and put your knowledge in action!

Sources – “2012 National Population Projections”, U.S. Census Bureau, Findings from the 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, CFED