Racial Disparities in Family Income, Assets, and Liabilities: A Century After the 1921 Tulsa Massacre

Aftermath of the Greenwood community following the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. PHOTO: BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES
Title: Racial Disparities in Family Income, Assets, and Liabilities: A Century After the 1921 Tulsa Massacre

Journal: Journal of Family and Economic Issues

Published: November 04, 2023

Authors: William A. Darity Jr., Raffi E. García, Lauren Russell & Jorge N. Zumaeta

Abstract: This paper examines the financial health of racial-ethnic groups in Tulsa, Oklahoma, nearly a century after the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. We use data from the Tulsa National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey to assess the financial health of two demographic groups that were historically the victims of racial violence – Native Americans and Black Americans. Specifically, we investigate financial outcomes a century after these groups made significant economic gains during the Tulsa oil boom in the early 1900 s and were subsequently victimized by racial violence. We find that Black households have statistically significantly less wealth and income than Whites in Tulsa. Our decomposition analysis shows household demographic differences between Blacks and Whites largely do not explain these wealth and income gaps, suggestive of historical discrimination. While in the case of the Native American tribes and Whites, the findings generally show no statistical significance. Compared to other NASCC-surveyed cities that did not experience destruction to the level of the Tulsa Massacre, the Black-White wealth and income gaps and the unexplained portion of the decompositions are the largest in Tulsa. Our results provisionally suggest that past exposure to racial violence can have long-term effects on the economic outcomes of the affected groups decades later.

Citation: Darity, W. A., García, R. E., Russell, L., & Zumaeta, J. N. (2023). Racial disparities in family income, assets, and liabilities: A century after the 1921 Tulsa massacre. Journal of Family and Economic Issues. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-023-09938-4

Image credits: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images