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What we get wrong about closing the racial wealth gap

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The challenge of the racial wealth gap has become a dominant discourse of late. While researching this topic, I came across a paper, which is the title of this blog, that identifies 10 myths held up as ways to reduce the racial wealth gap that are ineffective including education, home ownership and entrepreneurship. The 10 myths are listed below. You can read the full study here

Myth 1: Greater educational attainment or more work effort on the part of Blacks will close the racial wealth gap. 

Myth 2: The racial homeownership gap is the “driver” of the racial wealth gap.  

Myth 3: Buying and banking Black will close the racial wealth gap. 

Myth 4: Black people saving more will close the racial wealth gap. 

Myth 5: Greater financial literacy will close the racial wealth gap.  

Myth 6: Entrepreneurship will close the racial wealth gap. 

Myth 7: Emulating successful minorities will close the racial wealth gap. 

Myth 8: Improved “soft skills” and “personal responsibility” will close the racial wealth gap.  

Myth 9: The growing numbers of Black celebrities prove the racial wealth gap is closing.  

Myth 10: Black family disorganization is a cause of the racial wealth gap.  

And while I am in full support of improving Black people’s experience in these areas, the challenge of the racial wealth gap will not be solved without addressing the historic roots and present structures that account for wealth disparity along racial lines. The racial wealth gap continues because of historical structural systems that maintain racism. In addition, without looking at redistributing wealth reducing the wealth gap is a fictional idea.  

This 60-page study provides numerous examples grounded in “data” to support their augment. Given the perfect storm we find ourselves in (pandemic, economic, racial unrest, climate) we are long overdue in taking a critical look at past attempts to address the racial wealth gap. We must look backward to move forward. This backward look combined with a critical look at this historical moment is the best preparation for creating new models. See the full report, Insight Center for Community Economic Development, published by Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity. 

Imhotep Adisa is the executive director and co-founder of the Kheprw Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on youth development in Indianapolis. Over the course of 14 years, Adisa has guided the Kheprw Institute as it has blossomed from a small mentorship program serving five African American high school males to a mid-size intergenerational multi-racial organization addressing and creating future-oriented solutions for myriads of community challenges: education, environment, economy and empowerment. 

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