What would it take to bridge the black-white wealth gap?

Monday, March 26, 2018
MLK50 Memphis

Economist William “Sandy” Darity Jr. is dedicated to answering one of America’s most persistent income inequality questions: Why do blacks struggle so much harder than whites to succeed in today’s society?

As the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, Darity has written extensively on the wealth divide between blacks and whites, and offers novel solutions to address the burden of unfair employment practices African Americans and other marginalized groups face.

Darity’s work also highlights another disturbing trend: Education alone doesn’t level the economic playing field. Despite the persistent myth that education and bootstrapping leads to the promise of the American Dream, black families headed by a college graduate have about 33 percent less wealth than white families headed by a high-school dropout. The poorest white family has slightly more wealth than the typical middle-class black family, Darity found. Among the upper middle-class, white families have three times the wealth than black ones.

“Observing an association between higher levels of educational attainment and higher levels of net wealth and concluding that education produces wealth is tantamount to observing an association between the presence of umbrellas during rainfalls and concluding that umbrellas cause the rain,” according to a 2015 study co-authored by Darity.

A longtime advocate for fair pay, Darity spoke to MLK50: Justice Through Journalism about strategies to eliminate the wealth gap and to achieve Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a nation where “all labor has dignity.”

Read the full interview here.