Why African Americans Earn Far Less Than Other Americans
By: Abdul-Kareem Johnson
Statistics constantly point out that the black income median is so much below the white. Less attention is paid to how much wealth is owned by blacks as compared to how much whites own in the country. The reasons for the disparity, of course, are clear and need not be belabored here. One main reason can be summarized practically. When this nation was being developed—carved up and raped—blacks were a major item of wealth as slaves. We were a form of wealth. Historically, this attitude toward blacks has been carried down. When the country was being divided up, the society did not permit us to be on the receiving end. Mr. Astor’s ancestors happened to get the piece of property now called Times Square for a song and, by doing nothing, his heirs a few hundred years later are fabulously wealthy. Blacks could never participate in that kind of thing. The country was parceled out before we were legal individuals; and to the extent that anything was left—and a good deal was—in 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, we were still excluded. All the rumors of forty acres and a mule came to nothing. The country was divided, and little titles were drawn up and given to lots of people for whatever reason, but we had no opportunity to take part in the process.
The facts of American history effectively preclude blacks from being among the 153 wealthiest American families which, according to Fortune magazine, each have assets in excess of $2 billion and which, together with the 200 largest corporations, virtually run the country’s economy. We started too late and had too many handicaps against us when the game began.