In 2018, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute reported that racially biased policies and practices in hiring, homeownership, and education have led to large racial disparities in income, wages, wealth, and economic mobility in the District.
When examined together, they reveal a pattern in which Black and Latinx residents in the District are being left behind, the report by Tinsae Gebriel for the DC Fiscal Policy Institute noted.
Gebriel noted that the District should work towards holistic solutions that address these inequities by encouraging saving, continuing to help low-income, first-time homebuyers and protecting low-wage workers.
The median household income for Black D.C. residents — $38,000 in 2016 — is less than a third of the median household income for whites, $126,000, according to the report.
“The median income for Latinx families, $65,000 — is just half the median white income,” the report said. “Incomes are lowest in Wards 7 and 8 — which are home to the city’s highest concentration of Black residents. Stagnant wages, underemployment, and lack of economic opportunity are among the barriers low-income residents of color face in D.C.”
Also, wage gaps are similar to income. The median wage of white residents is nearly twice that of Black and Latino residents, according to the report.
Today, less than a year after the report, not much has changed.
“The systems in America are not designed for black people to succeed, on the contrary they are designed for Black people to fail,” said Deidre Rose of the The Ministry of Second Timothy, Inc.
Rose, who holds a MBA from Howard University, said she’s currently involved in a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education because she was fired in retaliation for pointing out that the education system is designed to cause Black students to fail.
“I have spent 17 years engaged in independent research on how Black people are mistreated in America, a conspiracy to ensure that descendants of African slaves continue to be servants in America under the guise of freedom,” Rose said.
The wealth gap has greatly increased, but so has the opportunity to create wealth, said Kisha Mays of Just Fearless, a company that connects businesses to opportunities and partnerships around the world.
“Tyler Perry focused on this in his acceptance speech at the BET Awards,” Mays said. “If those of us in the seven-, eight-, nine- and 10-figure net worth levels helped more [people], we would see the gap close.”
Esi Gillo of DIFFvelopment, an organization that aims to close the racial wealth gap by making black youth aware of how they can overcome economic barriers through culturally specific entrepreneurial and financial literacy, said after she graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Oxford, she had no doubt she would be able to get a job.
“However, to my surprise, I found that I looked better on paper than I did in person,” Gillo said. “For two years, I experienced varying levels of underemployment and by the time I landed a relatively well paying, mildly stimulating job, I had seen all that I needed to see about employment discrimination.”
Additionally, after attaining degrees in psychology, Afro-American studies, and African studies, Gillo said she sought to build a career in research and become a thought leader within arenas that dealt with pertinent developmental issues affecting the African continent.
“I watched my non-Black colleagues from Oxford who possessed degrees in comparable disciplines, such as Latin American studies, Russian and East European studies, get positions at the same prominent institutions I sought to make my mark in,” Gillo said. “It wouldn’t be long before some of those same non-Black, non-African Studies majors would be given leadership roles within Africa divisions at world-renowned organizations with considerable decision-making power when it comes to Africa’s future.
“Such salient bias made me hyper-aware of that which prior to I had known nothing about — employment discrimination,” she said.
Key components to building wealth and closing the wealth gap are homeownership and high-quality jobs that pay a living wage, Gebriel wrote in the report.
To promote greater wealth development among low-income residents, the city should continue to offer down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers and examine other barriers that may be keeping Black and Latinx residents from becoming homeowners.
“The District can do this by integrating higher wages and better working conditions into development projects to protect low-skilled workers and low-income residents, and embracing strategic enforcement of labor laws to ensure that low-wage workers are not exploited by their employers and receive the pay they earned,” she said.