Some Striking Financial Disparities Between Black and White Americans

CNN recently had a story that used four charts to show the financial disparity between Black and White Americans.

I think this is worth sharing so that as many people as possible are aware of such disparities. Awareness of a problem is often the first step needed before working towards a solution.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. These four charts say a lot more than that…

Chart 1: White families have substantially more wealth than Black families

The median net worth of Black households was less than 15% of that of White families in 2019.

Chart 2: White families have higher incomes than Black families

The median income for Black households in 2019 was roughly 60% of the median income for White households.

Chart 3: The unemployment rate for Black Americans exceeds that of White Americans

This is one area that has improved over time is the gap in unemployment rates. For decades, the jobless rate for Black Americans was typically more than twice that for White Americans. But it had narrowed to the smallest pre-pandemic differential on record in 2019, amid the economic prosperity.

Chart 4: A larger share of the Black population lives in poverty

The poverty rate for black Americans in 2019 was more than double that of white Americans.

The gap is even more striking among children. More than a quarter of Black children fell below the poverty line in 2019, compared to 8.3% of White children.

I think these four charts clearly show that there is a financial disparity between Black and White Americans.

Perhaps a good starting point to start fixing these disparities would be to ensure a high-quality education for both Black and White Americans.

46 thoughts on “Some Striking Financial Disparities Between Black and White Americans

  1. Most everyone agrees with you, about education. But they differ on method. Some think school choice will turn things around, while others think free college tuition will do the trick. As for me, I say the best education is a self-education. If your school isn’t cutting it, start reading a lot, and teaching yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. as much as I believe in self-education, that is not a level playing field either. Some people may not have access to books, or to people who can teach them to read…

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yeah, but when you want a job done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. Where there’s a will there’s a way. And I don’t know of any place in America where you don’t have access to books. There are even people who have taught themselves how to read.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. When you are born into poverty and or crime environments, you may not have the tools to raise yourself beyond survival. Only few, very special people would be able to do so. Most of us regular folks in any type of neighbourhood, (privileges or not) need education and values taught to us. I was saddened to read your comment.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I understand Tippy’s point about people needing to take personal responsibility for their personal growth, but it’s also true that it takes a village to raise a child to his or her full potential. And some villages are better equipped to do so,,,

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I can see his point, but I completely disagree still. It’s a very privileged way of thinking and it is also very damaging to those who are at the bottom of society. You really are by extension telling them that it’s their own fault and that they failed by not pulling themselves, by themselves, from where they are. Not everyone can do this. Most people can’t. Most people in the western world don’t have to. Society has a responsibility to give everyone an equal opportunity.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. well said; I couldn’t agree more! we need to do better as a society to help those individuals who are thrown into a challenging situation the moment they are born…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Nonetheless, reading material is everywhere. If you want a free book, just go to a church. They’ll be glad to give you a free bible, and many a person has learned to read by studying the bible. But there are other religious pushers who will be glad to give you a Koran or Book of Satan, or whatever. And then there’s all that grafitti on walls, and poetry on bathroom walls. If worse comes to worse, you can always ask a policeman for a copy of your arrest warrant. There’s no shortage of reading material in this country.

        Consider Abe Lincoln who walked a great distance to return a borrowed book. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. all valid points, but it doesn’t change the fact that some people are born into more challenging circumstances than others, and without a strong support system in place, it’s hard to move beyond that challenging situation. Do people do it? Of course there are examples of such people, but why is it so unfair. And reading ability is just one skill you need to succeed…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No matter the statistics, the narrative people believe is often far from the truth. I worked for a large company back in the last century where the popular view of management and non minority employees was that Blacks could not be disciplined or fired because of all the equal opportunity and affirmative action protections. In fact, we terminated Blacks at double and triple the rates as Whites. Blacks of course understood this reality. The company tried to counter the powerful fake narrative but was not anxious to make a statistical case of discrimination for those filing class action suits and for compliance officers trying to yank government contracts.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The same things as any employees were fired for, e.g., attendance, performance, falsifying records, theft, dishonesty, insubordination, etc. Most violations progress through warnings, and suspensions. The company had no particular reason to discriminate but systemic forces both inside and outside the workplace surely had impact. You cannot succeed unless the people around you want you to succeed. The informal support networks of mentoring, carpools, communication, outside social and recreational bonding opportunities, and extra help from co-workers created very different opportunities. In a worst case, you could have an unenlightened co-worker or boss subtly sabotage someone, whether race was involved or not. Hopefully things have improved from that time 40 years ago. Or not!?

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Equal opportunities for education may not be the only thing needed to make a difference, but it is the easiest and most productive place to start. Poverty can be cyclic and opportunities the only way to break the cycle. We can do better as a society, or turn a blind eye. Great post, Jim!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Sigh. It didn’t “just happen” …it was the result of shameful, criminal behavior and lawlessness. And then states wiped those crimes against black Americans right out of state records and US history classes.

    White supremist thinking even tried to brand/rebrand the Civil War as a war over “States Rights “rather than what is was: the rights for some states to own slaves and persecute them even a cross state lines into states where slavery was illegal.

    I, like many Americans, did not learn about the horror of the Black Wall Street Massacre until PBS educated me some 95 years after it happened. We never learned about Greenwood in Tulsa, OK in school. I visited Tulsa for a meeting of state legislatures and business leaders from all around the country in the 80s. Usually at such meetins we learn about local history and visit museums. But not ONE WORD about Greenwood was mentioned.

    Now I’ve learned from Eugene Robinson there were other major pograms like that to deliberately put down economic achievements by blacks. And #1619Project revealed so many other ways individual farmers were discriminated against so their loans were delayed until too late in planting season and when they were forced into foreclosure the white farmers in kahoots with the bankers would buy up their land.
    Even these many years later, I’ve become convinced that only major reparations would be the only just response to the many, documented crimes and atrocities. Who knew more slaves would die by lynching than by the horrific abuse by sadistic slave owners but that, tragically, was the result.

    Excerpt from Eugene Robinson’s article, It was much more than Tulsa:
    “No one should be under the impression that the burning of “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa a century ago was a one-off atrocity. In fact, it was part of a long and shameful pattern in which White mobs used murderous violence to erase African American prosperity.

    It happened in Atlanta in September 1906. Fabricated “reports” of sexual assaults by Black men against White women were used to inflame White vigilantes to attack African Americans. The mobs initially focused on Black-owned businesses that had established a foothold downtown — and were thriving in competition with enterprises owned by Whites.

    Store windows were smashed, in what amounted to an American Kristallnacht. Men and women were randomly snatched from streetcars and murdered. One barbershop that the mob targeted — because of its burgeoning success — was closed, so the White rioters trashed the place and then moved on to another barbershop across the street, where they killed all the barbers.

    …It happened in East St. Louis, Ill., in the summer of 1917. White workers at steel, aluminum and meatpacking plants resented the fact that African Americans — part of the Great Migration moving north out of the Deep South — were filling jobs. Thousands of White men marched through downtown, attacking Black people on the street and setting fires.

    It happened in Chester, Pa., that same year. Once again, Whites resented the influx of African American workers who were competing for jobs in the booming industrial sector.

    And it happened in two dozen cities across the country in 1919, during what came to be known as the “Red Summer.”

    Perhaps the worst of the 1919 riots was in Chicago. By now, you can guess the context: the Great Migration, African American workers competing for jobs, growing Black prosperity. The spark came on July 27, when a Black teenager crossed the unofficial color line demarcating where Whites and African Americans were allowed to swim at the 29th Street beach on Lake Michigan. That youth, named Eugene Williams, was pelted with rocks by a White beachgoer and drowned.

    Black Chicagoans protested. Whites rioted and set fires throughout heavily African American neighborhoods on the city’s South Side. In the end, 38 people were killed and more than 500 injured, most of them Black.”

    Reparations. Job training programs. Land returned to those it was stolen from, including Native Americans. We can’t call ourselves one of the “wealthiest” nations on earth when it only came about by such a shameful means.

    Yes, it starts with education about the INJUSTICE and figuring out how to make amends without inciting new jealousies that would start the cycle of violence all over again. Remember, “It’s the economy, Stupid” that got Bill Clinton elected? Well that was not wrong but what it really boils down to is that “It is the poverty.” and greed and/or jealousy and racism (against the Chinese immigrants too) that are at the root of our country’s greatest shames.

    I wish they had taught us all this in high school US History but they did not. They did not even teach us (in Virginia schools) that the Civil War was fought over slavery but white washed the reason just as they did in the 1800s to get my poor (white) farmer ancestors to fight for their state’s “rights” (NC) for the confederate “cause” … never mind they owned no slaves… they successfully turned it into a us against them yankees thing.

    I never understood it until I saw how spreading lies and slander about the far better qualified (female) candidate could help put an actual white supremist in the white house … in 2016! It is still shocking to me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. wow, Susan. Thank you for such a comprehensive overview of these injustices.

      I’m glad to know that I was not the only one who never heard of the Tulsa Massacre. I just heard about it for the first time this week.

      And yes, I wonder how different the world/U.S. would be if Hillary had been President back in 2016, and perhaps in 2020 as well…


      1. we were deliberately left in the dark… which makes me wonder what other atrocities do we not know about? But thank Eugene Robinson for all that other info .. I remember the racial tension/crimes in the Broadway Musical/book Ragtime … but did not know HOW widespread lynchings were not just in South but North too. So horrific. History has been so focused on slavery and Jim Crow but there were so many shocking crimes against humanity in-between. Steps backward, deliberately oppressing and demoralizing achievements.

        There’s just SO MUCH we were never taught in US History that we should have been. I imagine that “Afro-American Studies” class at our high school did a better job, but we thought that was a class literally only for black students. It should have been part of US History even if that meant Virginia required another semester of US History.

        My knowledge of the civil war in the 70s came mostly from reading Gone With the Wind and A House Divided by Ben Ames. I was too ignorant to understand the history from the African American POV much less the nuances or that our own high school mascot (Jeb Stuart Raiders) carrying the Confederate flag on horseback at football games was itself racist and an affront to our black classmates who, incredibly, literally wore a tiny Confederate flag on their varsity letter jackets because that is how they were decorated!

        Interesting reading to my more enlightened eyes about the reversal of progress from Reconstruction from Wikipedia: ” In the first decade of the new century, Du Bois emerged as a spokesperson for his race, second only to Booker T. Washington.[60] Washington was the director of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and wielded tremendous influence within the African-American and white communities.[61] Washington was the architect of the Atlanta Compromise, an unwritten deal that he had struck in 1895 with Southern white leaders who dominated state governments after Reconstruction. Essentially the agreement provided that Southern blacks, who overwhelmingly lived in rural communities, would submit to the current discrimination, segregation, disenfranchisement, and non-unionized employment; that Southern whites would permit blacks to receive a basic education, some economic opportunities, and justice within the legal system; and that Northern whites would invest in Southern enterprises and fund black educational charities.[62][63][64]

        Despite initially sending congratulations to Washington for his Atlanta Exposition Speech,[65][66] Du Bois later came to oppose Washington’s plan, along with many other African Americans, including Archibald H. Grimke, Kelly Miller, James Weldon Johnson and Paul Laurence Dunbar – representatives of the class of educated blacks that Du Bois would later call the “talented tenth”.[67][68] Du Bois felt that African Americans should fight for equal rights and higher opportunities, rather than passively submit to the segregation and discrimination of Washington’s Atlanta Compromise.[69]

        Du Bois was inspired to greater activism by the lynching of Sam Hose, which occurred near Atlanta in 1899.[70] Hose was tortured, burned and hung by a mob of two thousand whites. When walking through Atlanta to discuss the lynching with newspaper editor Joel Chandler Harris, Du Bois encountered Hose’s burned knuckles in a storefront display. The episode stunned Du Bois, and he resolved that “one could not be a calm, cool, and detached scientist while Negroes were lynched, murdered, and starved”. Du Bois realized that “the cure wasn’t simply telling people the truth, it was inducing them to act on the truth”.[71]

        In 1901, Du Bois wrote a review critical of Washington’s autobiography Up from Slavery,[72] which he later expanded and published to a wider audience as the essay “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others” in The Souls of Black Folk.[73] Later in life, Du Bois regretted having been critical of Washington in those essays.[74] One of the contrasts between the two leaders was their approach to education: Washington felt that African-American schools should focus primarily on industrial education topics such as agricultural and mechanical skills, to prepare southern blacks for the opportunities in the rural areas where most lived.[75] Du Bois felt that black schools should focus more on liberal arts and academic curriculum (including the classics, arts, and humanities), because liberal arts were required to develop a leadership elite.[76] However, as sociologist E. Franklin Frazier and economists Gunnar Myrdal and Thomas Sowell have argued, such disagreement over education was a minor point of difference between Washington and Du Bois; both men acknowledged the importance of the form of education that the other emphasized.[77][78][79] Sowell has also argued that, despite genuine disagreements between the two leaders, the supposed animosity between Washington and Du Bois actually formed among their followers, not between Washington and Du Bois themselves.

        “Divided we fall,” and exaggerating differences between black leaders weakened achieving justice for the many atrocities … just as it later would with MLK and Malcolm X.

        Again did not mean to write a dissertation (I didn’t! but cut and pasted one from wikipedia) but the amount of history I don’t know, even w/ a B.S. in Commerce from a “top” state University (of Va.) is shameful. I blame my ignorance on myself, yes, but also on the public school systems. Thank GOD for PBS (esp Ken Burns) or I’d still be in the dark. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. another wow, and anohter big thank you for sharing all of this with me, all of which I knew nothing about.

        It jsut makes me wonder if not including such topics in a school’s curriculum was a conscience decision, or just a lack fo ignorance. Either way, once you do beomce aware of it, then there’s no excuse for not doing something about it…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Re: a conscience decision, or just a lack of ignorance.
        I think it was BOTH.
        First by one, then the other –by thousands of teachers and admins kept in the dark who in turn kept students in the dark too.
        But now , thanks to PBS and others opening our eyes, we do know and curricula should be revised.
        Thus the Critical Race Theory movement which is long overdue yet being “debated” in states across the country. The more progress the more some seem intent on taking us backward.


  5. I’m afraid I can’t see this improving until major changes take place. It isn’t just education: there is a huge attitude shift needed. But while one of the two main parties continues to lie and grovel for a white supremacist, and morons believe them, that shift stands no chance.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. The problem is that he thinks he is, most of the rest of his party is following that line, and will continue to damage your country as he did for four years. He and his racist ‘policies’ are still there, even if he isn’t in the White House.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The graphics are an eye opener Jim. During my final ten years of teaching, I experienced the challenge of teaching in an urban school setting which was far different from my years of teaching in more rural Montana. At the same time, I was made aware of the unevenness of education between the suburbs and inner city of Columbus, Ohio.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thans for sharing your personal insights into the issue, Richard. If we can’t fix the educational disparity, then I don’t we have a chance to fix the financial disparity…

      Liked by 3 people

  7. It is great you share these stats so everyone is aware. As one who has lived with these disparities my whole life, there is no surprise. The primary reasons for the disparity is racism and discriminations not education. Racism and discrimination permeate throughout American history and continue to massively affect society today. If the issue was education, Blacks and Whites with the same level of education would make the same amount and have equal net worth. That is not the case. Far from it.

    I really like Susan Goewey’s comment. Reparations should be paid as a simple matter of equity. Racism and discrimination denied opportunities for Blacks for centuries and led to unjust enrichment of Whites and impoverishment for Blacks. Payment of reparations is appropriate in these circumstances.

    The U.S. is the most brainwashed country in the world. Trump and the Republicans are really pouring it on with their big lie about the election. The people who are prone to believe his lies think there must be something wrong if they didn’t get their way. The new voting restriction laws are Jim Crow 2.0. The principles of democracy mean nothing to them. Those who swear their is no such thing as White privilege are the ones most afraid of losing it.

    That a well educated person like yourself had never heard of Greenwood or numerous other atrocities shows the systematic effort to hide the truth about racial discrimination that has gone on for generations. The wealth gap is the natural and intended result of those downright disguising practices.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. thank you so much for your insights, John. I am sorry you have had to experience the racism that is present in our country. I have no problem with reparations, it’s a way to try and make things ore equitable. It’s also why I’m in favor of affirmative action programs.

      It’s embarrassing and sad that in a country as great as ours is that we can’t figure out to end racism.

      And while I see your point about education not being the answer, when I think about it more after reading your response, education could at least help from an awareness perspective, such as learning about Greenwood…


      1. Education about the past would indeed be helpful in understanding the present.

        Racism and slavery are America’s original sins. The Founding Fathers let us down in that regard. They created a country with a fundamental contradiction at its core. A country that claimed to champion freedom, equality, justice, and liberty treated some people as property with no human rights. After slavery was abolished, the notion of white supremacy was already ingrained in every part of a society that was allegedly based on equality and opportunity. Living with that contradiction required a type of mass insanity in which the reality of racism could be blissfully ignored.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. And I don’t think reparation is the answer.

        My dad and his parents and a few members of his family, who by some miracle escaped the Holocaust, received reparations from Germany. Of course, not even all the money in the world can repair the damage that was done, to Jews and indeed the world, by exterminating so many talented (in so many ways) individuals.

        In this respect, the intended death and destruction of an entire identified group, is a whole different ballgame than the lingering effects of slavery in the U.S. I believe slavery also differs from the WWII Japanese resettlement program in that, at least in an economic sense, the losses suffered by these individual would be easier to quantify.

        That’s not to say that the residual effect of slavery – racism – does not linger and does not stifle the prospects and ambitions of African-Americans. I just think these must be rectified in all areas of American life today including at minimum equal education and justice and opportunities for upward mobility both economically and socially and support of families, especially single mothers of whom there are more in the African-American community than any other.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. thank you for your thoughtful comments; as you note, education is critical, as well as opportunities. But I also believe there needs to be a way for people who have been discriminated against to “catch-up”, using special provisions, perhaps through effortss like reparations and affirmative action…


  8. Startling statistics that come as no surprise to me as an outsider when I still see blatant racism happening..Yes, education but so much more its attitudes and centuries of institutional abuses which still carry on…If I live to be 150

    Liked by 2 people

    1. it is amazing how long racism has been an issue, with no foreseeable end in sight unfortunately.

      that would make living to 150 worthwhile, if I knew that at some point before then, racism was gone from our world…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It still gives me goosebumps to remember the black leaders’ tears in Lincoln Park when Obama was elected. Jesse Jackson et al
        I really had hope that we’d moved past the worst of the ugly racism but then omg trump and his enablers gave us Charlottesville and we became fully aware with the videotaped police brutality and profiling and “Muslim ban” and separating children from their parents at the border and LOSING TRACK of their parents (making it straight up kidnapping) and other horrors and now we know how far we have to go 😦


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