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by Alexander Cain

Under Obama’s tax plan, couples making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000 a year are considered to be in the highest income bracket. This group makes up just 2.5% of the American population, but many within this small population don’t consider themselves well off.  It leaves many people wondering at what point do Americans consider themselves rich.

As reported in The Los Angeles Times report, the answer might be surprising. There are a wide variety of answers, but there is a common trend between all of the answers: the more money you currently make, the more money it takes for you to be considered ‘rich’. The report cited a survey showing that Americans, on average, believe an income of $122,000 is enough to be rich. However, this number can change depending on location and income level. Those living in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York consider $250,000 to be a more appropriate number for being considered rich, but it essentially depends on who you talk to. Christian, an independent contractor from Atlanta who once earned more than $250,000, didn’t consider a family who earned 250,000 to be rich. This is a stark contrast from many homeless individuals living in large cities where they consider middle class to be rich. Arnold Cantu who resides next to the Hollywood Freeway simply responded, “About $20.”

While economists only evaluated differences among different economic and living backgrounds, what would be interesting are the perceived concepts among different racial and ethnic groups. For African-Americans, one would expect the number to actually be higher than the $122,000. I would cite a higher income level for a variety of reasons.

As African-Americans, we aren’t exposed to as many higher income level individuals as other ethnic groups. For the 2.5% of Americans who qualify under the highest income tax bracket, only about 12.2 percent of this percentage are African-Americans according to a U.S. census report.

Jay-Z, the Oprah, and the Obamas are who constitute our ideals of wealth rather than the small to mid-size unknown black business owners who aren’t well known but continue to drive their businesses.  African Americans are facing a different mindset than those of the other racial groups. With the heavy influence of hip-hop culture in the African American community, our viewpoint of wealth  is heightened, as compared to other cultural groups, because the idea of rich is often associated with material items rather than actual income level.

While the idea of being ‘rich’ is a simple one, it is actually a concept with many different ideas and viewpoints. Depending on your income level your idea of ‘rich’ might be different. The more income you currently have, the more additional income it will take to consider yourself ‘rich’. For African-Americans who are still facing the tough income disparities, it will likely take a higher level of income to compensate for our tougher challenges.

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