Are Black People Being Shut Out of The Middle Class?

Black family walking on beach
Via Pixabay
Shiavon Chatman
May 5, 2021

The American Dream has always been about achieving financial stability through acquiring a good job, building savings, accessing education, and owning a home. But systemic racism has interrupted Black people’s ability to do any of these things! So, does the “Black middle class” even really exist?

It might be a fantasy. Historically, racial pay gaps and unemployment have prevented Black people from building wealth. While middle class members typically build off of family wealth or their wealth of knowledge, Black people haven’t had complete access to either due to financial and education discrimination. And these aren’t just a thing of the past.

Current racist policies and practices like hyper-surveillance in schools, overpolicing, and persistent financial discrimination continue to make middle class access seem like a pipe dream. And the data on Black wealth makes this clear.

Black people make up less than 3% of the nation’s wealth, even though we’re 14% of the population. We’re making and saving less – even if we’re more qualified! Though a lucky few have made it through, as a community we’ve been forced out of middle class stability at every chance.

These discriminatory systems, with deep roots in white supremacy and anti-Blackness, make it challenging for the wealth gap to ever be bridged. We've never been given full access to the “American Dream.” Maybe we should start dreaming our own dream?

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