The median black household possesses ten cents to every dollar of wealth that the typical white household has ($17,600 vs. $171,000, respectively), creating an absolute dollar of $153,400.
When considering the mean net worth of each group, however, the absolute dollar difference rises more than five-fold, to $795,000.
In short, none of the mechanisms the leading democratic candidates posit for closing the racial wealth gap—from increasing opportunities for homeownership, entrepreneurship, and education to trust fund accounts assigned to each newborn, also known as “baby bonds”—come close to resolving this gap.
However, more direct measures like “baby bonds” generally have a larger impact than tangential efforts. Proposals such as Marianne Williamson’s call for reparations hold promise, but to fully alleviate the gulf in wealth, direct payments must be on the scale of $10 trillion—far beyond what Williamson has proposed.
In this national election season, pressure is mounting for presidential candidates to make a commitment to a Black Agenda, a policy program directed at the particular interests and needs of African Americans. A primary goal of the emerging Black Agenda is to narrow the racial gap in well-being and opportunity. To achieve this, the Agenda must build around a program that will eliminate the gulf in wealth between blacks and whites.