Bootstrap myth exposed: White inheritance key driver in racial wealth gap

*This is the second piece that I suggest your should read today, it compliments the first piece I posted earlier and it follows on the statement Rep. Jason Chaffetz made yesterday when he declared that people should not buy iPhones and invest in their health. In that same statement he proclaimed the ballyhooed belief in “self-reliance” – the old bootstrap myth. But the truth is that there is no such thing, those “bootstraps” come with an inherited wealth disparity. It’s a fascinating 10 minute read. VL


By David Dahmer, Madison365  (10 minute read)

“Blacks/Latinos/non-whites don’t value education like whites do. They don’t work as hard as whites do. They spend more than whites do on junk,” says your standard white guy at the end of the bar dissecting the large racial wealth gap in the United States. “They just need to get off their butts and bootstrap it up like I did!”

Read more stories about Latino wealth disparity in NewsTaco. >>

However, 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.

[pullquote]“A lot of what drives the racial wealth gap is inheritance and the transmission of finances between generations. Whites inherit five times more often than blacks and Hispanics. When money gets passed along to whites, it’s about 10 times as much.”[/pullquote]

“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.”

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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.

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