If the trend line of the past 30 years continues, median household wealth for black families is projected to reach zero by 2053. That was the stat that caught the eye of DeRay McKesson, activist, organizer, and host of the hit podcast, Pod Save the People. DeRay hosted two of the authors of the report behind this stat, Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, to talk about the racial wealth divide in the United States today.
The interview runs a substantive 20 minutes and starts at the 40-minute mark if you want to skip ahead. Listen online at the show’s website, or wherever you get your podcasts by searching Pod Save the People. The show is produced by Crooked Media.
In the interview Chuck and Josh talk about their report, The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class, co-released last year by the Institute for Policy Studies and Prosperity Now.
“As much as I thought I knew about the wealth gap, I think I actually knew about the wage gap,” McKesson said, starting the segment. So much of the discussion around inequality focuses on income, not wealth.
“Income is important,” Collins said, “but we often overlook wealth. Wealth is what you own minus what you owe.”
As the report points out, Black and Latino families in the middle-income quintile would need to earn 2-3 times as much as White families in order to enter the middle class.
“Wealth is where the past meets the present,” Chuck said. The implications of the slavery, red-lining, and mass incarceration all show up in the massive disparity in wealth we see today.
By 2020, median White households are on track to own 86 and 68 times more wealth, respectively, than Black and Latino households.
“The racial wealth divide is a systemic problem,” Hoxie said “and to close it will require systemic solutions. As Sandy Darity and Darrick Hamilton point out in their research, this isn’t about individual behavior. This is about public policy.”