A pile of bills and coins. Miniature people. The concept of racial and income disparity.
Cover Image © Hyejin Kang

My Black Perspective #17: Resources

This post differs from the ones before it in this series. Rather than write, I’ll show things I encourage you to click. It isn’t pretty, nice, or good news. After that, I finally drop my idea on reparations (yeah – we’re at that part of the series). Today is about resources Black People have (or rather, lack). Get ready to see U.S. disparity.

The reason I’m not going to write more is that there’s just… a lot. I remind you that Black People didn’t start in the American Rat Race until the 1960s. This isn’t a listing of excuses. If you read it as such and see this as fuel for some internal argument that you have about Black People constantly making excuses… While that doesn’t make me happy, feel how you feel – but also… check out everything I’m showing below.

If you want the TL;DR – it can all be summarized by me saying: Black People have less. Not just “a little bit less” but significantly less. And unless something dramatically changes, we (Black People) are screwed to “a long way to go” (damn near forever) as a people in the United States.

If You Look At Nothing Else… This

There are two things that I consider ESSENTIAL from this listing. If you don’t want to look at anything else, make time for this video and this article. If you are really reading this article, and you have a genuine interest in this topic, PLEASE look at these.

First, one of the saddest videos I’ve ever watched. My heart hurts each time I view it.

And then… A primer on racial disparity in the U.S. (CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW)

A screen shot from a USA Today article about U.S. Racial Disparity.

Official U.S. Review of Black Resources

The Key Points page from "The Economic State of Black America in 2020" by the U.S. Joint Economic Committee.
The Key Points page from “The Economic State of Black America in 2020” by the U.S. Joint Economic Committee.

Links to Other Issues in Detail

Silhouettes of Black People of different gender and age holding hands together over a white background.

My Idea for Reparations in the U.S.

If you actually took the time to watch the video at the start of this post, you know that the wealth gap in America between Black People and White People is HUGE. What I’m going to suggest has two parts, and again – it’s not pretty – and I fully realize that it would likely NEVER happen, but it’s what is necessary to begin to close the huge disparity gaps. It won’t fix it entirely, but it will make Black Americans more whole.

The Two Things:

  • Ongoing investment in Black higher-education.
  • A one-time financial infusion into Black Futures.

Black Higher-Education…

I think the United States should cover – IN-FULL – the entire college tuition expenses (specifically – just tuition) of all students of U.S. Citizenship and African American heritage who apply, to ANY school they are genuinely accepted into and elect to attend – for ONE degree (including advanced-level degrees) – for no less than the next 100 years.

I really do believe that education unlocks many opportunities. Black People in the U.S. have historically been shafted when it came to education for many reasons (and some felt purposely engineered). A generational change in education level for an entire race of people would be a groundbreaking step to remedying the current disparities. This would also help to alleviate some costs of higher-education paid by Black People.

But, say this happens. As the video above pointed out, that’s not really going to do anything to close the gap because the huge benefits of compounding have already taken place for White America (and Black America hasn’t gotten to participate in that at all — not in as large a sample size as White People). This education portion is really just something to mentally prepare future generations for the wealth that they would eventually have. This step, combined with the next part, is where the real gap-closing work is done.

The One-Time Financial Infusion…

There are 41.99 million Black People in the United States according to 2019 U.S. Census numbers. If you dig into the generational estimates there, you see that about 25% of Black People are Boomers and older. I am proposing a one-time long-term solution for 31.492 million Black People, and only them. This idea is something they would need to claim, and cannot be claimed by their family members or descendants. It must be claimed by the person it was issued to (this is to reduce costs over time).

I propose the U.S. government issue all individuals of U.S. Citizenship and African American heritage who are alive right now (this wouldn’t go to anyone dead or born after the cut-off point for registration – and YES, babies can get these accounts) AND younger than Boomers – a $5,000 index fund meant to mimic the blended performance of major U.S. market indexes (specifically, the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and the Dow). But that’s not all – and this is where the claim portion above comes into play.

There should be a monthly contribution from the U.S. Government to each of those investment accounts that purchase a $100 fractional share of this exclusive Black-only index fund. This should go on for each account for 20 years beyond the start date of the account. Account-holders CANNOT touch these funds during that 20-year period.

Once that 20 years has ended, if those individuals who set up those accounts are still alive – they can claim that account and do with it what they will. Cash it out. Leave it going. Transfer it to their children. Whatever. But THAT PERSON has to be around to claim it at the end of that 20-year period, and – due to the advancements of modern science – they’d have to prove their identity with both their SSN and DNA verification (based on a DNA sample given at the start of the account). This is to prevent large-scale identity fraud. If that DNA database is ever destroyed, SSN verification alone will have to do.

To put this in perspective, it has been estimated that “the value of 40 acres and mule [the old promised reparations amount to freed former U.S. slaves] for those 40,000 freed slaves would be worth $640 billion today.” That’s $16M per former-slave.

What I’m suggesting here would be an initial cost of $157.4 billion, and result in an account value of about $53,064.28 per account holder at the end of the 20-year period given everything I said plus a 7% return each year. That’s a moderate estimate – but it could also be worth much more. If you want to check that math put the parameters I listed above into this calculator.

Points of Clarification (Added 2/18/2021 – one day after initial posting)

About the college tuition thing: That’s only for new degrees people are seeking to attain. Sorry, this shouldn’t be something that’s done to cover degrees that have already been obtained (and I may go as far as to exclude degrees that are currently underway, too).

Regarding the DNA portion of identification for the account claim: DNA may be too much for some. After talking to a friend, that was brought to my attention (thanks, Jamie). That said – maybe some other biometric form of identification that isn’t as intrusive or difficult and expensive to store and backup. Something like a fingerprint or retinal scan. Both of which can be stored digitally and are uniquely identifiable. Sure, some could be faked probably – but I just don’t picture most people going through the hassle to generate the fake.

Lastly, addressing one key weakness of the 20-year investment: The same friend asked me what could go wrong with that, and I pointed out that one big thing that could happen – which would suck – would be the market crashing right at the end of the 20-year vesting period. That said, I think these particular accounts should be FDIC Insured. Do I know how to do that? No. But Investment vehicles and other financial account types are made all the time. Special rules could be made for this particular circumstance.

Where Would the Money Come From?

Funds for this two-part reparation idea can be paid through any means other than taxing Black U.S. Citizens. To tax them for the funds for this initiative would be unjust and counter to the intended purpose of this recommendation.

The concept of racial discrimination in employment and promotion. The miniature men standing on a bar graph.

None of THIS is Fair

I am well aware that the two-part reparation solution I’m mentioning isn’t fair. But neither was slavery or any of the large institutional roadblocks placed before Black People historically in the United States. This is about mending past injustices and, frankly, the United States can afford this. It is a matter of CHOOSING not to pay for anything like this. Also, this is far better than what’s happening right now to make Black People whole in America… nothing.

I don’t feel like Black People owe America anything. But… Do I think America owes Black People? Yes. Hell yes. (But, I’m an adult — a Black one at that — so I’ve more than learned the old adage: Life isn’t fair.)

As you may be able to imagine, this one was hard to write today. Honestly — a little draining.

But, if you read this. If you clicked through the links I mentioned above. Thank you.

Peace, and thanks for reading.

 

The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image & Body Image 4 © Hyejin Kang (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 1 © USA Today
– Body Image 2 © The U.S. Joint Economic Committee

– Body Image 3 © Olga Sayuk

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