Wealth inequality in the U.S. has been steadily increasing along racial and ethnic lines since the Great Recession, according to a Pew study. White Americans disproportionately enjoy the economic security that wealth affords to people in this country, and right-wing media figures often blame Black people for their lack of financial means.
In perpetuating this racist myth that Black people are somehow less capable or driven to succeed, right-wing media ignore that Black people face a myriad of barriers to building wealth: Burdened by a history of state-sponsored discrimination from slavery to Jim Crow, Black people continue to be racially discriminated against when seeking a mortgage for a home, and they regularly face racially targeted wealth extraction and policing that results in financially devastating fines and fees.
Media Matters spoke with Anne Price, president of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, where she leads the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative that elevates the voices of experts of color in national economic debates and policymaking. She dispelled the racist right-wing media myths that link the wealth gap to behavioral pathology and deservedness.
According to Price, many of these tropes date back to slavery, and they inform policy decisions that play a critical role in how families of all races accumulate wealth. She says, “We’re [currently] thinking more about individual choice than we are about the types of investments that can actually be made. And this idea that we will never have enough resources to do that is really becoming a dark road that we’re going down as a nation. But in fact, we do have the resources to actually address racial wealth inequality, and the idea that we can’t actually afford to do this is also really a false myth.”