The Lineage Wealth Gap

Short film for the African American Policy Forum, showing metaphors for obstacles to equality which affirmative action tries to alleviate. All graphics and animation by Erica Pinto

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Even before the American Civil War where black men fought in the Union Army against confederate slavers, there was the Homestead Act.

1862: The Homestead Act

The Homestead Act of 1862 represented America's last great land policy. It was created on the eve of the Civil War and provided that anyone living on land for five years while making some improvements could acquire a free title of 160 acres.  This act remained in effect until 1900 and provided 400,000 to 600,000 white families with homes and farms.  Of all the public land that this act passed into private hands, not more than 11-to-17 percent was settled by homesteaders. By 1900, most of the land had gone to speculators, who thus acquired the claims to rich westerns lands, timber and mineral rights without having to bid or compete for the wealth.

Blacks were unable to acquire any of this last-time giveaway of land wealth. Many were interested but had their lives threatened by whites and decided not to pursue the free land. The acquisition policy of the Homestead Act was that anybody who "tended the land should not have to pay for it." But again, hypocrisy reigned. No one spent more time tending land than Black People. Certainly not European immigrants. Yet, even free Black People were not allowed to participate in the famous land rush in the West.

Both free and enslaved Black People were forced to delay their land ownership dreams and await the freedom that the Civil War would bring. 

Source: Black Labor White Wealth, Claud Anderson, Ed.d.


In this report, the racial wealth gap is defined as the absolute difference in wealth holdings between the median household among populations grouped by race or ethnicity.

In the U.S. the racial wealth gap shows that the typical white household holds multiple times the wealth of Black and Latino households. Using the SIPP, it is estimated that the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median Black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household.

In relative terms, Black households hold only 6 percent of the wealth owned by white households, which amounts to a total wealth gap of $104,033, and Latino households hold only 8 percent of the wealth owned by white households, a wealth gap of $102,798. In other words, a typical white family owns $15.63 for every $1 owned by a typical Black family, and $13.33 for every $1 owned by a typical Latino family.


 The charts shown below are from the ADOS website:


#ADOS #AmericanDOS sets out to shift the dialogue around the identity of what it is to be African American in an effort to move the discussion from melanin, and properly center the discussion around lineage.

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Last modified on Monday, 22 February 2021 23:24
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