Frederick Douglass addressed abolitionist students and colleagues at Corinthian Hall in Rochester on July 5, 1852 where he said: to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither people nor property will be safe.
This weekend, as we celebrate the 245th anniversary of our country’s independence, our collective patriotism as a nation and our appreciation for the rights we are granted in this country; Douglass’s words couldn’t contain more truth. For years, Americans have exercised their patriotism by standing up for the lives of oppressed people by protesting the economic, racial and societal injustices that stem from a financial and political system that has oppressed, degraded and robbed blacks and browns, all by systematically benefiting the rich whites. like me.
Let’s take a look at the substantial racial wealth gap, for example, which paints a grim picture of the continued oppression that has held back huge swathes of the American people. Over the past fifty years, the racial wealth gap has barely budged. In 2016, the net worth of the average white family in the United States was $ 171,000, ten times that of the average black family, which was only $ 17,150. These disparities are growing because of the inequalities observed in our tax code.
Our laws have historically given white families significant advantages over black families. Even since the laws were changed to be neutral on paper, the effects of past discrimination persist to this day. For example, in many cases, black families were denied access to wealth creation because they could not get loans from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), benefits from GI Bill and other banking and business programs aimed at creating wealth for the middle class. Black families have been excluded from opportunities to acquire, build and maintain generational wealth, putting them at a huge disadvantage by a tax code that favors wealth over work.
Even in cases where high- and middle-income white families do the same as black families, white families are generally much richer due to larger inheritances of family wealth acquired through government programs that have been historically denied to black families. Intergenerational transfers account for a large part of the racial wealth gap.
Loopholes like the Reinforced Base preserve racial inequality of wealth by allowing heirs to large fortunes or assets to avoid paying taxes on their assets or inheritance. While people who earn a salary (many black and POC families) end up paying a higher tax rate than wealthy heirs. There is a major systemic problem here. How are black families supposed to catch up when the money they earn is taxed harder than the wealth already accumulated?
We cannot just focus on eliminating the unfair policies that currently exist, this is part of how we have reached our current crisis point. Instead, we should also invest in innovative policy solutions that actively seek to narrow the racial wealth gap. Proposals like the Baby Bond Program, introduced by Senator Cory Booker, which would require the federal government to open a $ 1,000 savings account for every American child at birth with additional deposits of up to $ 2,000 a year until a child turns 18 would be a start. Imagine how this money could be used. Americans could use the money to pay for their education, put a down payment on a house, or invest it as they see fit.
If our country is to live up to the values it was founded on and correct the injustices Douglass spoke of hundreds of years ago, we must prioritize bold and ambitious changes to a tax code that has long been rigged against black and working families. The United States has played an active role in creating the racial wealth gap, and it needs to take an active role in narrowing it – it’s the most patriotic thing we can do.
Morris Pearl, president of the Patriotic Millionaires, former CEO of BlackRock, Inc. (the world’s largest asset management company) and current high net worth investor, lifts the veil on how the tax code is rigged against black families and the working class. Morris argues that the most patriotic thing we can do this July 4th weekend would be to fix this rigged tax system that puts black families at a disadvantage and lives up to the values our country was founded on. Can he reach to patrioticmillionaires.org