Economic Facts Demonstrate the Fallacy of Our So-Called “Post-Race” Society

March 30, 2009 posted by admin Last week, the Insight Center for Community Development convened 75 assets-building experts of color from around the nation for the Color of Wealth 2009 Policy Summit . During the Summit, experts met with members of Congress and policy staff to discuss the gap between people of color and whites in economic security and mobility. While most people are familiar with the stat that people of color are three times more likely to receive a sub-prime mortgage loan than white borrowers, even when qualified for a prime loan,  the picture is actually much more stark. As Meizhu Lui, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative at Insight, discusses in her recent Washington Post op-ed, white families are five times more likely to have bank account than families of color.  Furthermore, the racial wealth gap is actually widening. Says Lui,

“The gap between the wealth of white Americans and African Americans has grown. According to the Fed, for every dollar of wealth held by the typical white family, the African American family has only one dime. In 2004, it had 12 cents.  This is not just a gap.  It’s a deepening canyon. The overhyped political term ‘post-racial society’ becomes patently absurd when looking at these economic numbers.”

Delores M. Walters, Director of Diversity here at the National Council for Research on Women, also recently challenged this notion of a “post-race society.”  Walters wrote, “As Obama himself said in his great speech on race, liberals couldn’t ‘purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap’ simply by voting for him. Perhaps wealth accumulation is the most convincing indicator of racial disparity in America.” In these times of political possibility and economic recession, we must ensure that all Americans have opportunities to build wealth, for the sake of the individual but also for the strength of our future economy.  Lui provides three recommendations on how to get this started:

“We need a Financial Product Safety Commission to act against discriminatory lending policies and to stop the marketing of dangerous loans such as exploding adjustable-rate mortgages. We also should cap the mortgage interest deduction and make it refundable so low-income homeowners can benefit. Mandating that new schools and transportation and commercial projects that are supported by federal dollars be located only in areas with racially inclusive zoning policies would also do much to create and grow neighborhoods of opportunity.”

Finally, check out Lui’s interview on C-SPAN.

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