Is It Possible To Close The Wealth Gap? Only If People Stop Believing Black Folk Just Need To Try Harder

April 19, 2018  |  


It’s long been debated how the racial wealth gap will finally be closed. But according to Los Angeles-based attorney Antonio Moore, one of the producers of the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Freeway: Crack in the System,” experts are approaching the problem from the wrong angles.

Moore’s response comes after a recent survey from The Economist/YouGov revealed 40% of white people think that Blacks could be just as well off as whites if they only tried harder.

African Americans have often been told you have to be better, try harder, work smarter, but this still has not closed the wealth gap. In a new report co-authored by Moore with William Darity of Duke University and Darrick Hamilton of the New School, Moore tackles these notions and many others, like the idea we need to simply mimic “successful” ethnic groups, and disporves their ability to close the wealth gap.

In “What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap,” Moore also debunked other myths such as “Blacks just need better jobs and education.” As he wrote in Fortune, “On average, a Black household with a college-educated head has less wealth than a white family whose head did not even obtain a high school diploma. This is in part because Black students are more likely to borrow student loans and take on higher student loan debt, and are more likely than white students to drop out of university because of finances.”

Another myth, contended Moore, is that the wealth gap will close if Black people started to support Black-owned banks. According to Moore, Black banks just aren’t big enough to help close the gap. “The existing infrastructure of Black-owned banks lacks the capacity to produce wide and substantial increases in Black wealth. Even if they were to quadruple their assets, Black banks would not be major players on the American economic landscape, never mind the global landscape,” he wrote.

And, actually, some people contended there is no gap, pointing to Black celebrities and athletes earning millions as proof. While many of the wealthiest Black Americans derive their fortunes from some form of entertainment, they frequently are portrayed as major corporate owners, without it being made clear how much stake or control, they have in a given company. When a handful of African Americans are held up in the media as evidence of significant black corporate power, the necessity of adopting policies to eliminate the racial wealth gap becomes harder to establish,” Moore pointed out.

So what’s the solution? Moore said the government could create a “race-specific initiative like a dramatic reparations program, or a program that addresses the social destructiveness of growing wealth inequality for the entire American population—which would disproportionately benefit black Americans due to their exceptionally low levels of wealth.”

The idea of “Baby Bonds” was actually formulated by Darity and Hamilton. And this calls for the government to give funds to all children in the U.S. at birth based on their familial wealth level. The recipients could access the money when they turned 18.

What are your thoughts? Would “Baby Bonds” work?

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