It helps to examine history when trying to figure out why things are the way they are today. History makes it clear that the way things are today is not "natural," the way they have to be, or pre-ordained. By examining our history, we learn that economic, political, and cultural forces have shaped the very rules of the world today.
When we examine history we should pay close attention to the fundamental role that government policies played in shaping the distribution of wealth, especially with regard to the racial wealth divide.
Racialized groups have been impacted by public policies created specifically to limit their rights as human beings and as citizens. These discriminatory public policies have often systemically blocked wealth accumulation while opening opportunities for White people.
Even so-called "color blind" policies have had racialized outcomes. For example, although African-Americans who had served in the U.S. military during World War II were entitled to free college education and subsidized home mortgages thanks to the GI Bill, many universities systematically blocked African-Americans and other veterans of color and women from becoming students; and real estate owners, brokers, and local ordinances blocked black people from buying homes in desirable neighborhoods, it is important that we ask not only whether there is equality of opportunity but whether there is equality of condition and equality of outcome.
Why has racial wealth inequality gotten this bad? What does it mean for our collective economic well-being?
Use these infographics to explore the role that policies play in driving this ever-accelerating divide and what can be done to address this problem.
A summarized version of the timeline above. Click to view!