US 100 dollar bills
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In Black History Month, 3 Ways to Change the Racial Wealth Gap

A friend of mine called the other day. She had Covid, so she decided to do some genealogical research to while away the hours in quarantine. She soon learned that her grandfather’s grandfather had enslaved dozens of people. 

Peter’s family is from Louisiana and includes relatives who enslaved people. Mine, from Connecticut, benefited financially from the support afforded to white families (and generally not to Black families) through programs like social security and the GI bill, ample opportunities to buy property, attend the schools of our choosing, and get jobs. 

How can people like us respond to generational injustice that has led to tremendous differences in financial stability, opportunity, and well-being?

Here are three thoughts about the racial wealth gap and how we can use our money in acts of repair:

1. Give to Black-led non-profits.

While BIPOC leaders often have ties to communities and an understanding of how to best lead underserved populations, they often have smaller networks of donors. The revenues of Black-led organizations are 24% smaller than white-led ones, and their unrestricted net assets are 76% smaller. (At the moment, we give to Arrabon, Leadership LINKS, and The Witness.)

2. Invest money in local banks owned by people of color.

According to the Racial Equity Institute, African-American business owners are 5.2 times more likely to be denied a loan compared to white business owners. Black-owned community banks can be vehicles for providing loans for Black-owned community businesses. (That said, I’ve been working for over a year to do this, and it has not been an easy road. More on that another day.)

3. Change your will.

My friend who discovered her family history is looking into organizations that are helping to change outcomes for prenatal health and early education for children born into poverty. She’s considering bequeathing her wealth to these places.

Change the Racial Wealth Gap

We can’t undo the harm of generations of injustice and disparity. But we can participate in the work of repair, even in small and diverse ways, here and now.

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