Halloween 2015, Saturday. Watching the USC-Cal game. SC leading 24-7. Great interception and then touchdown by Adoree Jackson. Fight On!
Well, let’s talk BC now. I know I always say this and I probably sound like a broken record, but…we’ve just got the most amazing faculty here at BC.
I was reminded again of the collective brilliance our instructors bring to their classrooms and their students every day as I listened to Professor Reggie Williams’ talk on race, wealth and inheritance earlier this month at the Levan Center.
First, I was so happy to walk in to the Levan Center and see a fabulous turnout of students and community members packing the house for Reggie’s talk. Seeing all those men and women ready to dive into such a high-minded topic just reinforced for me how critical it is for BC to provide these kinds of seminars and discussions. Especially with such a high percentage of first generation students, I’m so proud BC continues to offer venues for just this type of intellectual engagement. If not here, then where? Thank you Norm Levan!
But I know our community wouldn’t turn out for these events if they didn’t feel confident they’d be hearing from unquestionable experts. And you’ll find no one anywhere with a deeper reservoir of knowledge coupled with a skill for grounding heavily academic topics than Reggie.
Reggie’s talk tackled the reasons behind the overwhelming wealth gap between Black and White Americans — and the numbers are stark. After appraising the value of a family’s home, stocks and other significant assets and liabilities, U.S. Federal Reserve data shows the median white household was worth $141,900 in 2013, while the median black household was worth just $11,000.
As if those figures weren’t alarming enough, it’s an even more troubling situation when you look at recent trends, which show black household median wealth dropped a stunning 34 percent between 2010 and 2013. Meanwhile, white households saw their wealth actually rise slightly over that same period.
So, what’s going on here? I learned from Reggie, the first thing everyone needs to understand is the difference between income and wealth. While the U.S. has spent the past half-century trying by various means to address income disparity, there’s been little action in closing our nation’s wealth gap – and it can have a more devastating impact than many realize.
While a person’s income hopely grows throughout their life, wealth traditionally grows generationally, built incrementally as it’s handed down to each succeeding generation.
But Reggie asks, what happens when you factor in 246 years of slavery in America, effectively disallowing most Blacks from owning anything of significant value for generation after generation? And what happens when that period is followed by another century of sharecropping and Black Codes, upholding many severe restrictions on Black ownership or their ability to work for themselves or amass personal wealth? What happens is nothing good for African-American families trying to provide for themselves and their descendants.
It was a fascinating discussion that was only made more enjoyable by the wonderful engagement of the BC students in attendance. I can’t tell you how proud I was of the insightful questions, well-studied perspectives and eye-opening opinions our students brought to the issue. Their participation made an already stellar presentation from Reggie that much more rewarding. Thank you Jack Hernandez for planning such wonderful programs for the Levan Center.
I am so happy to be back at BC!