New study takes aim at debunking old myths about America’s racial wealth gap

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Indeed, Bouie is one of a growing number of journalists, social scientists, policy makers, and political leaders who are challenging age-old shibboleths that blame black Americans for their inability to gain economic parity with white Americans. Their claims are bolstered by a growing body of research which demonstrates that systemic racism – not a lack of effort, education or family structure – is chiefly to blame for perpetuating the yawning and consistent racial wealth gap in the United States.

In the most recent example, a study released last month by scholars at Duke University’s Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development outlines just how mistaken many Americans are about the roots of the nation’s racial wealth gap.

We contend that the cause of the gap must be found in the structural characteristics of the American economy, heavily infused at every point with both an inheritance of racism and the ongoing authority of white supremacy

In their paper, “What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap,” an impressive list of scholars – including Alan A. Aja at the City University of New York; Caterina Chiopris, William Darity Jr., and Mark V. Paul at Duke University; Darrick Hamilton at The New School for Social Research in New York City; Los Angeles attorney and documentary film producer Antonio Moore; and Anne E. Price, president of the Insight Center – expose and debunk ten widespread and damaging myths that points the fingers at black Americans:

  • Myth 1 — Greater education attainment or more work effort on the part of blacks will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 2 — The racial homeownership gap is the “driver” of the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 3 — Buying and banking black will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 4 — Black people saving more will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 5 — Greater financial literacy will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 6 — Entrepreneurship will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 7 — Emulating successful minorities will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 8 — Improved “soft skills” and “personal responsibility” will close the racial wealth gap
  • Myth 9 — The growing numbers of black celebrities prove the racial wealth gap is closing
  • Myth 10 — Black family disorganization is a cause of the racial wealth gap

The Duke/Insight scholars note that the failure to close the racial wealth gap stems from a collective adherence to these myths, which obscures the real reasons black Americans fail to advance and preventing practical solutions to narrowing the gap.

Read the full article here.