By Vanessa Williamson

December 9, 2020

Addressing the racial wealth gap

It is impossible, of course, to design any policy agenda that would fully reverse the effects of centuries of racism. Justice this long delayed has meant justice denied to generations. But there is a crucial and vibrant conversation occurring today that envisions what reparations would look like.

The most straightforward approach is for the federal government to provide money to descendants of American slaves. In their book, “From Here to Equality,” William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen have proposed a detailed program that addresses eligibility, total outlay, payment mechanisms, and oversight of a potential reparations policy.

There are many other economic policies that are also commonly suggested to reduce the Black-white wealth gap. Rashawn Ray and Andre Perry outline some of those proposals in their essay, “Why We Need Reparations for Black America.” In addition to direct payments to descendants of slaves, Ray and Perry look to a variety of programs to fund college education, forgive student loans, and promote homeownership and entrepreneurship in the Black community. Darrick Hamilton and William Darity have proposed a system of “baby bonds” that would provide American children with a nest-egg at birth; targeting larger bonds to children of lower-income families would substantially reduce the median racial wealth gap over a generation.