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Growing concerns about wealth inequality have dominated social and economic debates in America. Particularly, an area of growing concern is the wealth inequality across the racial divide. For example, Meschede (1) says there is a significant wealth gap between white people and racial minorities in America. A 2009 representative survey showed that white families in America had a mean wealth of $113,149 (Meschede 1).
Comparatively, Hispanic families had a mean wealth of $6,325, while African-American families had a mean wealth of $5,677 (Meschede 1).
Although these inequalities have largely characterized income distribution in America, Fox News Network (1) says it has not improved under the leadership of an African-American president (President Obama). This paper talks about the dominant white perspective about wealth inequality in the US by comparing their views with the views of non-white communities on the same issue.
Some white communities believe that wealth inequality is good because it motivates people to work harder and improve their lives. They say it discourages laziness and improves innovation because people find a greater need to work harder. For example, wealth inequality may motivate poor people to work harder and live a better life.
Similarly, wealth inequality motivates people to improve their educational qualifications to secure a better job and better pay. White people’s views about wealth inequality depart from the idea that racial differences inform wealth inequality in America. For example, many white communities believe wealth differences in America come from people’s determination and hard work.
Many non-white communities also hold the same view, but most of them believe racial inclinations also affect wealth creation. Similar to the principles of the “American dream,” white communities believe that wealth creation comes from people’s merits and accomplishments (Shapiro 2).
However, as shown below, people of color have differing views about wealth creation. Nonetheless, many white communities do not support wealth inequality because it causes social disharmony and the lack of economic sustainability (among other factors).
Non-white communities in America believe that wealth inequality has disenfranchised many racial minorities from maximizing their potential. For example, African-Americans believe that the policies adopted by the US government in the mortgage and lending market disenfranchised many African-Americans from gaining access to homeownership loans (Meschede 5).
Comparatively, white people got credit and mortgages that increased their rate of homeownership (and their wealth). Similarly, unlike the dominant white view that wealth creation stems from merit and accomplishments, many non-white communities in America believe that race plays a significant role in determining people’s wealth, as opposed to merit (Shapiro 2).
Shapiro (2) shares this view by saying that family inheritance and continuing racial discrimination continue to undermine the gains made in eliminating racial inequality.
The perspectives of white and non-white communities in America show that both groups hold differing opinions about the role of racial influences in wealth creation. Many white communities believe that merit and accomplishments affect a person’s wealth, while many non-white communities believe racial inclinations affect the same issue. White communities also believe that hard work and determination affect a person’s wealth.
Comparatively, some non-white communities see wealth inequality as disenfranchising to racial minorities because it locks them out of prestigious institutions of higher learning, homeownership opportunities, and employment opportunities (cost of wealth inequality). This view shows that white and non-white communities in America do not support wealth inequality because of its undesirable social and economic costs to society.
Fox News Network. As Obama Hammers Income Inequality; Gap Grows Under His Presidency. 2014. Web. 28 April. 2014. <http://www.foxnews.com/topics/issues/wealth-gap.htm>.
Meschede, Tatjana. The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide, Waltham, MA: Institute on Assets & Social Policy, 2013. Print.
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Shapiro, Thomas. The Hidden Cost of being African-American: How Wealth Perpetuates Inequality, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.