• Phil Tanny
    An article on the Brookings Institution web site entitled Examining The Black White Wealth Gap quantifies a crucial component of racial inequality in the United States with this stark sentence.

    At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150). — Brookings

    Did you catch that? American whites are nearly ten times richer than American blacks. Nearly ten times. That's the wealth gap that is being addressed here.

    It's the purpose of this page to try to replace an endlessly repetitive cultural pattern of vaguely bemoaning such unfair realities with a specific bold plan of action for addressing this challenge in a constructive manner.

    The Proposal

    Here's the proposed plan in a nutshell.

    1) Black Americans in the United States should receive free education at every level until such time as the wealth gap between whites and blacks is erased.

    2) This plan should be paid for by the super rich, those who have benefited most from America's historically rigged economic system.

    An Education Voucher?

    Offering free education at every level to every black American sounds good at first, but this may be too imprecise of a proposal to make good legislation.


    A better plan might be to provide each new black child who is born with a $100,000 education voucher which can be spent on any combination of K-12, trade school, college etc. Limiting the benefit to a specific amount of money would certainly help in creating budgets. As example, my back of the envelope calculations estimate that providing each black child with this benefit would cost something like 60 billion dollars a year.

    As a quick comparison, a single new aircraft carrier costs around $12 billion dollars.

    Who Pays The Bill?

    Here are a few more facts which will point us to who should be paying the bill for such a benefit to black families.

    The Washington Post reports that "The top 20 percent of households actually own a whopping 90 percent of the stuff in America…"

    According to CNN “The richest 1% of families controlled a record-high 38.6% of the country’s wealth in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve report..”


    These lucky folks are not evil, so there's no need to demonize them. The point here is only that this is who has benefited most from America's historically rigged economic system, and this is who has the ability to foot the bill for providing minorities with a fair chance to join the economic party.

    Political Analysis

    If such a plan was paid for by the top 1% of Americans (who own almost 40% of the nation's wealth) then politicians can turn to 99% of voters and say...

    This isn't going to cost you a nickel.

    Some people will object anyway. Ok, that's their right. So what? We don't need everybody to agree, just a majority.

    Such a plan would pump an estimated 60 billion dollars in to the nation’s education system so we should expect those working in education to be supportive given that, if nothing else, it is they who will be the recipients of these funds.

    If such a plan is aimed at all educational opportunities (and not just college) that should create a base network of support in every community in the nation comprised of 1) black Americans and 2) teachers. If these two groups are united in their support of such a plan then we should probably assume that the Democratic Party will be onboard as well, especially if the plan could be expanded to include other long oppressed minority groups.

    Addressing Objections

    “But, but, but…”, the critics will whine, “This plan isn’t fair, it gives a benefit to only one group, based on the color of their skin, it’s RACIST!!! etc etc etc…”

    Yep, this plan is unfair, it’s racist too. Here’s why.

    Try to imagine being a member of a minority that’s been ruthlessly and relentlessly oppressed for hundreds of years. You need more than money. More than that, you probably need assurance that the bad old days are gone for good. You most likely want to be convinced that you now live in a fair society. That’s reasonable, right?

    Ok, so what’s fair? Let’s start with a white way of defining fair, which might go something like this…

    We’ve oppressed blacks for centuries and now we’re willing to stop doing that, or at least move in that direction.

    Ok, that’s surely progress over slavery and Jim Crow. But is it fair?

    Here’s how black people in America might be thinking of fairness…

    The game has been rigged against us for centuries, so now it should be rigged in our favor for awhile.

    Is it fair to merely stop stealing from someone, or is fairness better described as a good faith attempt to repair the damage done by the theft, to make things right?

    If we want black Americans to feel fully welcome in American society we have to do more than just even the playing field and hope that things will sort themselves out over time, a long time.

    Fairness requires us to be unfair, to act decisively, to give extra advantage to those who have been denied equal status since the founding of the nation. Not forever, just until blacks and white have, on average, the same share of America’s wealth.

    Specific Bold Plans Of Action

    The real point of this article is not that this is "the" perfect plan for healing the racial divide. Of course there are other good plans, and this plan can and should be improved as it's given more consideration by more people.

    The real point of this article is that if we're at all serious about healing the racial divide in America, we need to move beyond a consistent cultural pattern of making vague proclamations along the lines of "racism is bad, and isn't that sad". If we're serious about inequality we need to stop describing the problem, and focus instead on crafting specific bold plans of action.

    Martin Luther King didn't just say that racism is bad. He fought for the Voting Rights Act. Like that.
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