One's wealth is determined by the value of one's assets minus one's debt. The Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University recently released their research on black and white wealth disparities. The data shows that over a 23-year period of time (1984-2007), white people's wealth quadrupled in comparison to black people's wealth.
I find this very troubling as someone who has graduated from college and is heading to graduate school in the fall, knowing that there is still a possibility that because of my race I will not be as likely as my white colleagues to develop wealth for my family. According to the director of IASP Thomas Shapiro, "Even when African Americans do everything right -- get an education and work hard at well-paying jobs -- they cannot achieve the wealth of their white peers in the workforce, and that translates into very different life chances."
I am keenly aware that my reality and opportunities have been very different and more fortunate than those who have not been able to graduate from high school or even go to college. As a matter of fact, this hits very close to home. As a first generation college graduate, I continue to be frustrated by the racism that permeates our policies. Many of us desire to give back and to improve our communities, and help our families and generations to come. The possibility that the color of our skin will still be an obstacle is frustrating to me.
Thanks be to God I come from a tradition that believes that God provides in spite of broken human-made structures and policies.
I encourage you to read the research and share your thoughts.
LaToya Lynn Brown is the executive assistant at Sojourners and a graduate of Ursinus College with a B.A. in American Studies concentrating in Sociology and a minor in Religious Studies. She is heading to Yale Divinity School in the fall.