Reports after report are sounding alarms about the widening gap of income between African Americans and white Americans. True, there is growing income inequality all over the world. For the newly developing nations, that are thriving to improve their citizenry lifestyle, this has not become a first tier concern. Economist Thomas Piketty (Piketty, 2014), suggested, that income equality problems would eventually be a part of the governing concern for all national economies.
America is currently grappling with finding solutions to this dilemma. Left without a solution the income gap will fuel a great deal of unrest. Fortunately, academics are churning out reports addressing this topic with many pointing to racial or gender, income disparities as foundational to the trouble.
What can be done about the income gap between black and white Americans? The sources of income differences are well documented. Black family structural weakness is an income constraint; for without two wage earners the gap is difficult to close. African American males are disproportionately incarcerated in their most productive years. Lack of early schooling, inadequate parental controls, low paying jobs, and racism contribute to widen the gap. The wealth of black families rarely exceeds funds needed to provide for emergencies. If there is a drain on savings or other investments, they will be difficult to replace.
The chances of overcoming the limitations of lower income do not bode well for African Americans. If they were born in the lowest income percentile, “moving on up” is a struggle. At the age of forty, 51% of them remain in the lower class. Black women are most prevalent on the bottom of the income ladder. New studies are showing that black females 25-34 are a sizable percentage of the growing class of discouraged workers. That implies they are not participating in the current job recovery.
Hard work is often suggested as a way to close the gap. Government officials hope that declining national unemployment rates will contribute to closing the gap. A one percent decline in the national unemployment rate means approximately 200,000 more jobs going to African Americans. The income obtained, hopefully, will be funneled into saving and investments.
Still, those blacks with assets are still finding themselves undercapitalized, when compared to the assets owned by white Americans. Values for white primary residences are oftentimes three times that of black Americans. Homes are the largest source of wealth for both races. Wealth accumulated in housing for most African Americans is still insufficient to bridge the gap. To leave this problem unsolved creates too wide of a gap to be able to build a prosperous and peaceful America.
The magnitude of the income problem requires that those working to eliminate the gap and those agitating for a solution must not allow this to become lost in the backroom swamps of Washington. What is sought is that all people are able to live the American dream. But, a dream to long deferred or denied will fester and stink like rotten meat; and one day explode.