More than 150 years after the end of slavery in the U.S., the net worth of a typical white family is almost seven times greater than that of the average Black family. Season 3 of The Pay Check digs into into how we got to where we are today and what can be done to narrow the yawning racial wealth gap in the U.S.
Jackie Simmons and Rebecca Greenfield co-host the season, which kicks off with a personal story about land Jackie's family acquired some time after slavery that they're on the verge of losing. From there the series explores all the ways the wealth gaps manifests and the radical solutions, like affirmative action, quotas, and reparations, that can potentially lead to greater equality.
A Reparations Experiment
This week on the Pay Check, we look at the long fight for reparations for slavery in the U.S. Economists have calculated that each Black American is owed around $300,000, which would just about close the racial wealth gap. While momentum for reparations has grown, it's not likely to happen any time soon -- at least at the federal level. Meanwhile, cities and the state of California are looking into local reparations. Susan Berfield looks at how one town is repaying its Black residents for discrimination.
The Problem With Affirmative Action
For the last few weeks, we've talked about the origins of the racial wealth gap. This week, we're turning our attention to one of the first major efforts to create more economic opportunity for Black Americans: Affirmative action in education. Kelsey Butler takes us to California, a place that for decades had strong, successful affirmative action measures, until one day, it didn't. She explains what getting rid of the policy meant for Black and white graduates, and why reinstating it isn't enough to close the wealth gap.
The Black Homeownership Tax
Homeownership has been a main source of intergenerational wealth in the U.S. But it’s one that is out of reach for many Black Americans. Decades after fair housing reforms, the dramatic disparity between Black and White homeownership isn’t getting any better. In this episode, we look at why this gap persists, with many Black homes overtaxed, undervalued and unjustly foreclosed on.
The focus of our story is one problem that's a “textbook case of institutional racism”: In thousands of U.S. counties, the method for calculating property taxes means Black Americans are experiencing unfairly high taxes. It's the reason why Di Leshea Scott is renting a home she used to own.
A Quick Note From The Pay Check
The Pay Check team has a request for our listeners. Experts estimate closing the racial wealth gap would cost around $13 trillion. That amounts to around $300,000 for every Black American. We want to know: What would you do with that money? Call and leave us a voicemail at 646-324-3490 or record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We may use your voice on the show.
'The Last Plantation'
The top five White landowners in the U.S. own more land than all the Black landowners combined. And over the last century, Black farmers have lost nearly all of the land they once owned. But in the 1990s, tens of thousands of Black farmers sued the Department of Agriculture for discrimination, and won. In this episode, Elizabeth Rembert looks at the role of farmland in the racial wealth gap, and how one farmer's fight with his local USDA loan officer snowballed into the largest class action lawsuit in U.S. history.
The Unrelenting Cost of Slavery
This week, we look at the 400 years of U.S. history that help explain today's racial wealth gap. Bloomberg economics reporter Catarina Saraiva takes co-hosts Jackie Simmons and Rebecca Greenfield from slavery to the modern era to show big economic losses to Black people in addition to moments that led to big wealth gains for White people.