Updated: Jun 30
Let me break this down real simple. No political spin for Democrats or Republicans. Whites or blacks. Particularly though for my white friends, in light of the Supreme Court decision on college admissions - those who get so angry at the mention of slavery and its impact. Read if you dare.
Generational wealth is built over generations. A generation is 40 years. Let's do the math. At the time of the Declaration of Independence (1776), African slavery was legal in all 13 colonies.
By the time of the American Revolution, slavery had become institutionalized across the U.S. Meaning, blacks were chattel (property) and whites were persons. Chattel worked. They could not own the land they worked on. Whites profited and passed down their wealth.
Black people were forbidden from learning to read though they built the schools. Knowledge and opportunities to become educated were passed on generationally by and through whites. Not so for black people.
Whites progressed through cohesive family units working together, and building family-owned businesses. Going to school. Going to institutions of higher learning. Blacks were not even permitted to pick up a book. They could not form cohesive family units. They were property not "people" and children, men and women were sold to work for no wages. No wages.
White "family-owned" businesses, through black free labor, were made astronomically profitable because but for the minimal cost of some materials (even the trees for lumber were cut down by the chattel), there were no labor costs, no wages to be paid, so it was all straight profit.
Making them exponentially profitable as those businesses grew and were passed to the next generation, growing even wealthier; or, were sold at a profit. For blacks though? Nothing.
It wasn't until 1865 that slavery ended. Then 100 more years of Jim Crow where blacks, though no longer considered chattel were red-lined, could not attend white schools, or colleges – having to scrape together their own. Whites would not sell them land, they could not get loans even if they had stellar credit and could repay them.
They could not get white-collar jobs, higher paying jobs, though qualified. Had to go to school longer, and work longer to get jobs, many of which they were over-qualified for, yet in most instances, even those went to less qualified whites who earned more. Which enabled them to put their children through college, assuring a better future. Colleges were inaccessible to blacks.
Do the math. If 40 years is a generation (and it is), only since the Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing Act... 1964 and 1965 have we even been able to begin to work, prosper and pass on what "wealth" we could work for. Meanwhile, white generational wealth and the opportunities afforded having been able to attend unfettered, the college of their choice, continued to steamroll.
I am not lumping everyone into one category here. To be fair, there were poor whites as well who could not attend college - yet were afforded opportunities simply because they were, well - white. Can we be real?
From 1776 to 1965 is 189 years. One hundred eighty-nine years divided by 40 (a generation) is 4.7 or 5 generations. Blacks in America by 1965 were already 5 generations behind the curve. Including the learning curve.
No other race. Not Asians. Not Hispanics. Not gays and certainly not whites have had and continue to have the African American experience.
To put that in context; in one generation, thousands; the next generation tens of thousands; the next generation hundreds of thousands; the next generation, millions as populations grew.
None in each of those generations were paid for their labor, nor because of the color of their skin able to attend institutions of higher learning. Not to mention the inventions and recipes stolen in those 189 years which could not be owned and patented by blacks, even though their inventions - but whites could and did.
Many capitalized on, some even built their entire brand and empire on (i.e., Jack Daniels), black inventors' creations, handing down as theirs, through generations to their white families. Blacks received nothing.
How could we build wealth? It's not that we were lazy, far from it. It's that we were shut down, shut out, and not even considered human beings.
How can 189 years of ignorance through inequality be now somehow discounted with the declaration of equality? As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in her dissenting opinion, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”
Add losses from systemic racism from 1965 onward. The net negative economic impact? Astronomical. Easily in the trillions. Yet, all things are now somehow magically equal?
When many of my white right friends and the black right of the world who fall in with the madness by putting forth the silly argument that blacks should be further along and the playing field is now equal - it is not. It can and never will be equal. Such losses can never be regained, recouped or magically "caught up."
Add to this, emerging from the Civil Rights Movement, blacks largely in increasing numbers forsook the God of our fathers who brought us through slavery and Jim Crow and other atrocities and put trust in the very people who held their collective boot on the neck of our ancestors.
Even more, as the Hebrews did in the wilderness, compromising with and allowing even to this day other groups and "movements" who neither revere God nor respect his Word, to use us to not only piggyback on hard-earned gains but to further agendas that are anything but God-honoring.
Don't be deceived. White Democrats and white Republicans all benefited, and are still benefitting. It wasn't their party, it was and is their race from which they benefited at our expense and at the expense of generations.
I am a student of government, history, Christianity, and leadership. If you take the emotion out of it, the racism out of it, the offensiveness out of it, and looked at this issue realistically... yes, black people are and have been historically at economic and educational disadvantages because of the legacy of slavery.
It was impossible to build and become educated while for generations physically and psychologically chained. And for generations more, dehumanized. You can't build on thin air in chains.
I and many well-educated and successful blacks were blessed to go to college, not only earning undergraduate but advanced degrees. One of my advanced degrees is even from a majority white, conservative seminary. Considered to be one of the premier evangelical seminaries in the world. I am grateful. But my story and many others like mine, while more normalized today, is not the norm and experience of far too many blacks who have less of an opportunity to attend college than they did last week.
What is more normal is this -- You can't begin a race, spot a runner two feet from the finish line, chain the other runner to the starting block, shoot the starter gun then wave the flag of victory as the runner runs the two feet to cross the finish line. Crown them the winner, but punish and berate the other runner for not running faster and harder to catch up when finally free to run the race -- 200 years, not two feet, behind.
There is no catching up. Do we still suffer the consequences generations and generations hence? You bet we do. The break up of our families didn't start with the welfare state but with the United States. We never should have been lacking anything and certainly not lagging for generations economically and educationally behind.
American slavery was evil. Jim Crow was evil. Racism is evil. But, there is a God in heaven. College admissions they say will now be equal as black people despite decades and decades, generations and generations of oppression and regression have magically now “caught up.”
But the words of Justice Jackson will ring true for generations, “deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”