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My Black Perspective #18: Money & Ownership

I have seen it said that White America has a median wealth 10 times higher than that of Black America. Many posts in this month’s series explain why that is, and today I’d like to continue on a similar note to yesterday’s post about resources available to Black People. This time – specifically as it relates to Money and Ownership.

Striking Charts on Black Wealth & Income

You’re about to see a lot of data presented to you in charts and graphs. I promise there’s a point to the number torture I’m about to put some of you through.

First, where do people get that 10x figure from? It seems that the root of it is based on data from 2016…

A chart showing that White Wealth is 10 times larger than Black Wealth in 2016.

(Since that seems to be the case for the figures that I’d heard, I figured it didn’t hurt to pull the following 3 charts from a 2020 Washington Post article pulling data related to the same years.)

Next, I thought this was interesting.

A chart showing that the wealth gap between White and Black Families in America is as large now as it was back in 1968.

I had also heard it said that Black People with high educational achievements still had less median household wealth than White People who only went as far as high school. Turns out, that’s based on data from this same year…

A chart showing wealth disparity between White and Black people by education level.

Wow.

And while this is driven by a number of socio-economic factors, the fact that Black People are actually making less money in recent years than they did in 2000 probably doesn’t help…

A chart showing Black People made less (time-adjusted) pay in 2018 than they did in 2000.

Here’s another view of that income trend by race (per U.S. Census data).

It looks like Black median household income actually was lower in 2018 than it was in 2020.

A chart showing income trends by racial group in the U.S.

So… Here’s the narrative: Black Wealth and Income are low in the U.S.

Got it (yeesh, this is hard to look at).

Frustrated Black man holding his empty wallet, looking shocked.

The thing that gets me about these charts, in particular, is seeing that things like time and educational achievement aren’t really changing this narrative at all. I see other minority groups surpassing Black People, and the only thing I can think is it comes down to huge two factors:

  1. The fact that our people have different histories in this country.
  2. Ownership.

That’s my initial guess, anyway. And while I’d love to go down that rabbit hole, it’s admittedly not within the scope of today’s post, so I’m going to keep it moving (for now) – and put a pin in that topic for a later thing.

How is Black Money Spent?

Here’s a quick look at Black buying power in the U.S. (and hopefully the last chart of this post), and then I’ll follow it up with a quick statement.

A table showing spending power by race in the U.S.

Cool to see, right?

Yes, it’s less that White People’s – that’s to be expected at this point. and the number is trending up (which is a surprise, at least to me – but it makes sense that as more Black People enter the workforce, this number would rise).

But… it begs the natural question: What do Black People spend their money on? This is a HUGE question in this discussion, and – sadly – I have to kind of back that up with another chart-based visual before I make my statement (sorry everyone)…

A chart showing what Black People in the U.S. spend their money on.

And now, my statement: Black People, in my experience as a Black guy with plenty of Black family and friends (go figure), spend their money on the same thing everyone else in America does with the exception of personal grooming products (this is true — I don’t know why other than that we’re typically taught to take pride in our appearance). I know there’s a stigma that we’re wasting money on lavish cars, alcohol, drugs, etc. – but – as you can see in the chart above, that’s not the case. So… Yeah. If you or anyone you know has that stigma about Black People and our spending, stop that.

So What Gives? Ownership.

I’ve seen this stat tossed around, so here’s a reference for it before I say it: About 60% of Black People do not own homes – anecdotally, a very common vehicle of net worth/wealth generation here in the U.S.

As a person who also rents, I feel a little guilty for adding to that statistic, but I feel like my reasoning is entirely different compared to many.

You see, I CHOOSE not to own a home at this time simply because it’s not conducive to the lifestyle I want to lead at the moment. But, as you can see from the charts I showed you at the beginning (I promised you there was a point): Most Black People can’t AFFORD to own a home in the U.S.

Slice it any way that you’d like to – with a median net worth around $17K and a median household income around $40K – Black People are essentially being boxed out of property ownership in the United States. I am positive that tons of historical practices brought us to this point, but many of them have been corrected. The issue now is just growth in property value. Black People were barred out of the scene for so long, that now – property values have reached a point in more states that many Black People (specifically & sadly) just can’t afford a home (the median cost of which appears to be between $266K$295K in the U.S. depending on where you look).

That’s right, all of those charts were actually leading to me making the point above.

And, to be fair – I’m only speaking of this at median levels. I’m not saying that NO Black person can afford a home, but MANY (definitely at least half) just can’t.

Once you remove that major vehicle for building wealth, you cripple any chance of true wealth generation for most people. And if you’re struggling with that – chances are that things like owning stocks (which only about 42% of Black People in the U.S. own), owning a business, or even owning a car – may be lower priorities for you.

To fix the Black Ownership issue, we must first address the Black Monetary issues (with an “s”).

Do I know how to do that? No. But I did want to dedicate some time to calling it out for the sake of this series. Black resources, wealth generation, and net worth can’t grow until these core issues are addressed.

I know that took a while to get around to, but that’s all that I’ve got for today.

Peace, and thanks for reading.

 

The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © LightField Studios (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 1 © OfDollarsAndData.com
– Body Image 2-4 © The Washington Post
– Body Image 5 © The Peter G. Peterson Foundation
– Body Image 6 © Prostock-studio (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 7 © eMarketer.com
– Body Image 8 © The Nielsen Company

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