BRATTLEBORO — For people of color, one of the barriers to farming is lack of access to farmland.
It should be remembered that a generational wealth gap exists and has only widened for people of color, preventing them from owning land and other assets that may gain value over time.
By being marginalized for so many generations, people of color have not had the wealth – including farmland – handed down over time that whites do. And, over the generations, the gap has widened.
Annual reports released by the Federal Reserve show that since 1989 the richest 1 percent in the world has captured $ 21 trillion in wealth while the poorest 50 percent has lost $ 900 billion. The majority of the black community is in the lower half of the hierarchy.
“For people of color in the United States, the root of financial insecurity stems from the institutional racism and white supremacy that has existed since the founding of this country,” says Solana Rice, co-founder of Liberation in a Generation, described as “a national movement Supporting an organization that empowers people of color to totally transform the economy – who controls it, how it works and, most importantly, for whom.” “
In a YouTube video explaining the concept of the generational wealth gap, Rice notes that homeownership – a basic way for people to increase their wealth and a way in which parents often help children – for people of color is almost impossible “by design”.
Slavery, Jim Crow laws, and centuries of discrimination of all kinds have hampered the ability of people of color to create wealth and own land.
As early as 1865, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, during the Civil War, ordered that plots of land no larger than 40 acres be given to liberated families. President Abraham Lincoln signed this bill but was assassinated. Andrew Johnson, his successor, overturned the bill and thousands of freed slaves who had received land were evicted, despite creating wealth for their white owners for nearly 250 years.
Wealth increases as interest compounds over time. Even today, blacks earn less than whites and are much more likely to be unemployed and discriminated against. Wealth takes time to grow as interest builds over time. For the American middle class, however, home equity represents two-thirds of wealth.
The government perpetuated this Catch-22.
In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt acted through the New Deal to release mortgage credit to the general population, but the new Federal Housing Administration did not insure mortgages in risky areas, usually those where people of color lived.
The government has gone so far as to map these neighborhoods, a process called “redlining”.
The segregation imposed by the federal government has affected all aspects of life, including the added value of your home. In 1998, discrimination was seen as “unprofitable” and the government worked to close the wealth-of-color gap, but most people of color – despite even having a high credit score – received loans to pay. risk that have in fact devalued over time.
The wealth gap shows that “we still have a long way to go,” said US Senator Cory Booker, DN.J. said about Netflix series Explain. Booker’s parents in 1969 were turned away from homes for sale because of their color and even put up a sting to prove it.
As former First Lady Michelle Obama said: “I wake up every day in a house built by slaves.
Christian E. Weller and Lily Roberts wrote for the Center for American Progress in March of this year that “Closing the racial wealth gap is a generational challenge that requires new but achievable policies” and made many proposals for help.
“The work of the National Advisory Council on Closing the Wealth Gap between Blacks and Whites shows two important things. First, it is possible to rapidly develop and adopt a number of policies that could have a significant long-term effect on narrowing the wealth gap between blacks and whites. Second, a smaller – but still substantial – wealth gap between blacks and whites would persist, even if policymakers implemented all of the policies mentioned in this report in addition to several large-scale proposals. Eliminating the disparities between black and white wealth is a generational endeavor, but it is one that this country can and must tackle.
“But a substantial wealth gap between blacks and whites will remain – at least between the average wealth of black families and the average wealth of white families – even if all of these proposals were immediately adopted. General measures that benefit both black and white households have a diffuse effect on the wealth gap between blacks and whites on average, although they can significantly reduce this wealth disparity to the median.
They point out that even a targeted government response will take time and will not completely erase the enormous intergenerational advantage that white households have in creating wealth.
These intergenerational transfers of wealth, they say, take the form of gifts and inheritances as well as access to social networks.
From 2010 to 2019, white households with heads of households aged 55 to 64 received gifts and inheritances in the amount of $ 101,354 (in 2019 dollars). By comparison, black households received $ 12,623.
Additionally, older white households expected to receive an additional $ 75,214 in gifts and heirlooms, while black households expected $ 2,941.
A glimmer of hope could emerge nationwide in President Joe Biden’s post-Covid stimulus package. Of the US $ 10.4 billion bailout to support agriculture, about half would go to “disadvantaged farmers,” of whom about a quarter are black.
Such a boost could begin to correct years of access to denied loans to black farmers and other systemic discrimination – even, some argue, due to the administration of USDA policy.
Today, black-owned farms average about 100 acres compared to the national average of 440 acres, according to federal statistics. Of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States today, only 45,000 are black, according to the USDA, up from 1 million a century ago. Black farm ownership peaked in 1910 at 16-19 million acres, or about 14 percent of total farmland, according to the Agricultural Census.
A century later, 90 percent of that land had been lost.
The Vermont legislature is also considering legislation to promote racial and social equity in access to land and property through grant programs, financial education, and other investments for Vermonters. who have historically been victims of discrimination.
The bill, which remains in the General Affairs, Housing and Military Committee until the legislature returns in January, will create the Vermont Land Access and Opportunity Fund if passed.
The lands would be donated by individuals and organizations and held in trust by NEFOC with cultural respect and community conservation easements.
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