The old tried-and-true American bootstrap lore took a big hit this month with a study that shows most families living with the material comfort and range of opportunities normally associated with middle-class status have obtained them the old-fashioned way: inheritance. The racial and wealth gap in the United States is as large as ever and “The Asset Value of Whiteness: Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap,” shows that inheritance plays a huge factor in that gap.
“For centuries, white households enjoyed wealth-building opportunities that were systematically denied to people of color. Today our policies continue to impede efforts by African-American and Latino households to obtain equal access to economic security,” Amy Traub, report co-author and associate director of policy and research at Demos said in a statement. “When research shows that racial privilege now outweighs a fundamental key to economic mobility, like higher education, we must demand our policymakers acknowledge this problem and create policies that address structural inequity.”
In short, the study found that white people inherit stuff and have inherited stuff for generations. And that gives them a supreme advantage. The report shows that typical markers of success in white households – and the chosen interventions in the lives of others – are not translating into lasting wealth and security in households of color.