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The Inclusive Economy

Recap: Measuring and Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap

By Elvis Guzman on 09/20/2012 @ 02:15 PM

Tags: ALC 2012

Today the 2012 ALC hosted a concurrent session sponsored by the Ford Foundation, "Measuring and Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap." Kilolo Kijakazi from The Ford Foundation moderated this jam-packed session with a widely diverse audience. The speakers engaged the attendees with a vast array of wealth and income data which show a clear discrepancy between non-Hispanic Whites and other racial minorities. These include the fact that White households have 18 times more wealth than Hispanics and 20 times more than African-Americans. Ms. Kijakasi emphasized that the current gap is a structural problem and not just a product of individual factors. There are a number of institutional practices and flawed policies which have permeated throughout the system since the Great Depression.

Speakers in this session included Rebecca Tippet, University of Virginia, and Derrick Hamilton, The New School, which highlighted the importance of building and maintaining financial wealth. Buying a home or getting a post-secondary education are some of the most important factors which can expand the economic opportunities of all Americans. Unfortunately, African-Americans and Hispanics continue to stand at a disadvantage. Mariko Chang, another speaker and an Independent Contractor, chimed into the conversation by including the continued struggles of women in accumulating wealth. Single women, and African-American women in particular, have less access to the “wealth escalator” than their male counterparts.

The session ended with a very passionate Q&A portion in which audience members asked what the field could do to remedy these problems. Speakers cited the need to advocate their policymakers and work together to address the gap. Overall, this session spoke to many of the participants. The racial wealth gap continues to affect our daily work and it is an issue we must face head-on to advance the future of all Americans.

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