At Reparation Generation, we seek to create a more perfect union to benefit every American. To achieve this, we must first face the truth: systemic racism harms all of us, and it is the direct cause of today’s wealth disparities between Black and White Americans. Research and stories alike have shown us how our nation systematically denied Black Americans equal opportunities to achieve homeownership, education, and entrepreneurship, among many other rights and pursuits—with consequences that persist today. While formal government reparations are the end goal, knowing our history compels us to act now to promote reconciliation and make the country we love more just, fair, and inclusive.
Our Detroit demonstration project did more than put wealth-building reparative transfers in the hands of people purchasing a primary home: it showed that Black Americans can reliably trace their ancestry to people formerly enslaved in our nation. Participants in our program easily identified and provided proof of their lineage using common genealogy research tools available today. The discovery of a stolen identity facilitates healing for the individual and begins the process of repairing our communities economically and emotionally. With our initiatives, we are demonstrating that reparations are both feasible to administer and, ultimately, capable of building long-term wealth for Black Americans and closing the wealth gap resulting from generations of systemic racism. Over time, we expect that our pursuit of justice and equity will drive economic and emotional repair among families, communities, and our greater society.
The Great Migration from the South and the rise of racial residential segregation strongly shaped the twentieth-century experience of African Americans. Yet, little attention has been devoted to how the two phenomena were linked, especially with respect to the individual experiences of the migrants.
In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. On the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.
Wealth is the key to upward mobility and to creating a safety net for oneself and for generations to come. Our government and society have prospered off of Black Americans while systematically denying them the chance to secure their own futures. In this era when nearly $68 trillion in wealth will transfer from Baby Boomers to their children, it’s time to finally repay what is owed.
President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield’s resolution, which passed Tuesday without objection, aims to lay out a foundation to create a city task force or commission to design what reparations may look like for Detroiters and how to make it happen, whether through a committee or “higher level” entity at the state level.
Why hasn’t wealth inequality improved over the past 50 years? And why, in particular, has the racial wealth gap not closed? These nine charts illustrate how income inequality, earnings gaps, homeownership rates, retirement savings, student loan debt, and lopsided asset-building subsidies have contributed to these growing wealth disparities.
New data from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) show that long-standing and substantial wealth disparities between families in different racial and ethnic groups were little changed since the last survey in 2016; the typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family.
A close examination of wealth in the U.S. finds evidence of staggering racial disparities. Gaps in wealth between Black and white households reveal the effects of accumulated inequality and discrimination, as well as differences in power and opportunity that can be traced back to this nation’s inception. The Black-white wealth gap reflects a society that has not and does not afford equality of opportunity to all its citizens.