The Supreme Court‘s latest attempt at forcing “colorblindness” in a society marked by racial inequality led it to gut affirmative action in higher education. But there’s still much that can be done to bridge racial economic inequality—particularly if we embrace reparations.
What’s more, we could fund those reparations by breaking up concentrated wealth in this country—and they could work together with other economic policies that would benefit Americans of every color.
The racial wealth divide between Black and white Americans is not only vast but persistent. We found in a 2020 report for the Institute for Policy Studies that the median African American household had only 6 percent of the wealth held by the median white American household.
This percentage is lower than it was four decades ago, indicating that the racial wealth divide may be growing. The root causes of this disparity are found in public policies that have perpetuated injustice—including not only slavery but also segregation, mass incarceration, housing and lending inequality, and other systemic injustices.
The growing concentration of wealth over the past four decades has been a further barrier to bridging the racial wealth divide. The wealthiest 400 billionaires in the United States, we calculated, own as much wealth as the entire African American population and a quarter of all Latinx households combined.