Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is what privilege looks like.

a Pew Research chart showing the median net worth of households by race in 2005 and 2009. Whites went from $134,992 to $113,149; Hispanics went from $18,359 to $6,325; Blacks went from $12,124 to $5,677.

Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics:
The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago...

From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

...Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites.

...Household wealth is the accumulated sum of assets (houses, cars, savings and checking accounts, stocks and mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc.) minus the sum of debt (mortgages, auto loans, credit card debt, etc.). It is different from household income, which measures the annual inflow of wages, interest, profits and other sources of earning. Wealth gaps between whites, blacks and Hispanics have always been much greater than income gaps.
The piece cites "plummeting house values" as the "principal cause of the recent erosion in household wealth among all groups," which disproportionately affected Latin@s, but, of course, there are other reasons: Whites are more likely to be invested in the stock market (even if merely through a retirement account like a 401k), which recovered its value in a way home equity has not; people of color are more likely to have been targeted by predatory lending; whites are more likely to have inherited wealth; etc.

All of which is a function of privilege.

[Related Reading: Can't Vs. Won't.]