The Wealth Gap Left Black Families Vulnerable To Impact Of Pandemic

Centuries of economic exploitation and oppression created the conditions in which Black families and individuals have been disproportionately financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New analyses by Forbes and the Hamilton Project say that recovery may be slow for groups who were already struggling before the pandemic, specifically people of color and women. 

Forbes predicts economy recovery after the pandemic will be “K-shaped” wherein groups who have thrived during the pandemic will continue to do so, while others will continue to suffer financially. 

Before the pandemic, the wealth gap between white and Black households was staggeringly wide. In 2019, the median income of white households was $188,200, while Black households had a median income of $24,100.

The lack of personal financial safety net Black families had before the pandemic, orchestrated in large part through systemic racism, left them vulnerable to the devastating impact of COVID-19.  

Across gender, analysis by the Brookings Institute indicates that Black women will be the group to weather the economic devastation of COVID-19. Between February and April, the percentage of Black women with a job dropped 11%.  

The contributions African Americans made to fuel the nation’s economy since its inception, don't align with the consistent financial lack so many face. The nation’s calculated efforts like red lining devalued and starved Black neighborhoods of resources. That and so many other tactics systematically kept many Black people from obtaining financial opportunities. 

The historically consistent economic lack makes recovering from economic emergencies that much harder for Black families. After the Great Recession, where white and Black households both experienced an estimated 27% decline in wealth, white families recovered faster and stronger than Black families. This in fact, according to the Brookings Institute, made Black families' current financial situation amid the pandemic far worse.

Black people face disparities and racism in obtaining the job opportunities that could spur financial means for. From our names, to natural hairstyles, seeking a job for economic advancement can be strenuous and ultimately contributes to the difficult battle of recovery after the pandemic. 

To help ease the strain of the pandemic, economy experts point to federal fiscal support as necessary to kickstart recovery for Americans. 

For Black people, the battle to make economic gains for all will continue to be fought in light of the dark history of slavery and systemic oppression experienced in this country. 

Photo: Getty Images  

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