By: Teri Williams
March 10, 2020
African Americans built this country. We can have statues that pay homage to our leaders’ roles in society, but not benefit equitably from our nation’s wealth. Statues, yes. Money, no. Why is that? Historically, and sadly, what money has helped accomplish is the uneven distribution of wealth into the hands and bank accounts of white America. Data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances for 2016 indicate that Black families’ median and mean net worth is less than 15 percent that of white families, at $17,600 and $138,200, respectively, a staggering disparity.
American wealth was built on our backs – not just in the South, but in the textile industry in the North and the banking industry overseas, our bodies literally mortgaged to secure white futures but not black ones. According to a study by Darrick Hamilton and Sandy Darity, in order to close the racial wealth gap, America must adopt bold national policies that address the long-standing consequences of slavery, the Jim Crow years that followed, and ongoing racism and discrimination that exists in our society today. Our mission at OneUnited Bank is to help the Black community identify and address the one financial transaction that can close the racial wealth gap for their families that could be buying a home, opening a business or getting life insurance.
Yes, Black joy had the team at OneUnited Bank both laughing and cringing at the funny memes and the recent mention on SNL’s Weekend Update reacting to the Harriet Tubman Debit Card. Yet, if the outpour expands our audience and ignites a larger conversation about Black economic empowerment, then the jibes were totally worth it.
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