There’s a lot of emphasis on the Black-white wage gap when thinking about racial inequality in the US but this obscures a much more dramatic problem: the racial wealth gap. Whereas white households earn 1.6× as much as Black households, they hold 10× as much wealth.*US Census Bureau
American families are handing down $9 trillion of inheritance to the next generation, but its distribution is very uneven.*Thomas M. Shapiro, The Hidden Cost of Being African American, 45 Many argue that family inheritance is the most significant way that racial advantages and disadvantages are passed between generations. Furthermore, the ability of intergenerational wealth to reproduce racial inequality is greatly enabled by what Thomas Shapiro calls “transformative assets”.
Transformative assets describe “the capacity of unearned, inherited wealth to lift a family economically and socially beyond where their own achievements, jobs, and earnings would place them.”*Thomas M. Shapiro, The Hidden Cost of Being African American, 18 These assets affect not only people's material positions but also their whole outlook on success and individualism. Through their conversations, we will see what transformative assets look like and how they function to maintain and expand the Black-white wealth gap.