Updated: May 15
In the summer of 2022, the Treasury Department initiated a blog series focusing on economic issues surrounding racial equity. Focusing on the racial wealth gap as a key component to assessing economic security, they pointed out in this blog series how racial differences in household wealth are some of the most visible and impactful manifestations of racial inequality in the United States. Unfortunately, the racial wealth gaps continue to persist—threatening the economic security of impacted families and weakening the economy as a whole.
Focusing on the importance of wealth for economic security is a huge aspect of the equity dimensions of the racial healing discussions. Entering this discussion does not only invite a helpful awareness of the realities of economic disparities, but it allows opportunity for us to demonstrate our capacity for caring and advocating for those thus affected by such marginalization. There are so many dimensions of this discussion where increased awareness will lead to increased health and wellbeing. Entering the discussion unlearned runs the risk of exacerbating an already sensitive issue. In fact, many well-intentioned people, their values, and their institutions actually recreate racial divisions and inequalities they ostensibly oppose.
Differential outcomes across race are well-documented in housing, income distribution, employment, and many other facets of American society. Without an awareness of systemic and structural racism it is easy to take a benign view of America’s “Race Problem” or to actually deny that there is a race problem. The fundamental importance of wealth for economic security and general wellbeing makes the large disparities in wealth by race a serious concern for the economic health of families and the U.S. economy as a whole. Wealth is essential for economic security because it can be used for consumption, which is directly connected to wellbeing. Data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis find that the median white family had $184,000 in wealth in 2019 compared to just $38,000 and $23,000 for the median Hispanic and Black families. Further, while the gap is large between white and Hispanic families it has improved slightly. On the other hand, the median wealth gap between white and Black families has hardly changed over the last 20 years.
On his first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The Order recognized that, although the ideal of equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, entrenched disparities in our laws, public policies, and institutions too often deny equal opportunity to individuals and communities. The President’s Order emphasized the human costs of systemic racism, persistent poverty, and other disparities, and directed the Federal Government to advance an ambitious, whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the challenges we face as a country and the opportunities we have to build a more perfect union. Join the forum discussion as we look at the saliant issues that perpetuate the wealth gap, how this issue impacts the discussion on racial trauma, and what can be done to create greater economic advantages and outcomes as it relates to racial healing and being the mosaic kingdom.
Our guest will be Mr. Van Sealey. Originally from Eastern North Carolina, Van moved to the west coast at a very young age. His father was career Navy, moving around the country from military base to military base on both coasts. The oldest of seven siblings, like most eldest children of military families, he carried the brunt of shared responsibilities when his father was overseas. Upon his father’s retirement in 1971 the family moved from Northern California back to North Carolina resulting in a less influential lifestyle. Realizing that college was not yet for him, due to cost and his number of siblings, Van graduated from high school and immediately entered the Navy. After completing his tour of military service, while working fulltime, Van took advantage of VA education benefits receiving a BS in Engineering Technology from East Carolina University, and an MBA from Wake Forest University. His manufacturing career spanned forty years, beginning as an hourly employee to reaching the level of global director of operations prior to his retirement. In retirement, Van enjoys his family and the special benefits of having grandchildren.