"If we are to keep the American dream alive, our democratic values flourishing, and our market system strong, then we must redesign and rebuild the engine that drives them."

– Darren Walker

Welcome to day 12

Topic: Income, Edition 2

Challenge yourself today to understand the lasting impact of racism on income and wealth by looking at national and local policies in our history.

Reminder, no matter who you are or where you are on the journey, you will not be perfect. Try to digest the information slowly and go at your own pace. Allow time for reflection and avoid feeling pressured to tackle everything.

Imagine playing a game of Monopoly with a group of six friends. Only there are staggered starts. A few people start in round one. They roll the dice, travel around the board, and acquire property. The second pair must wait 20 minutes before they start. They join in, getting chances to earn prizes, buy property and grow their wallet. You are in the third pair and must wait 40 minutes before entering the game. By the time you join, all the property has been taken and on every square you land, there’s rent to pay. Very quickly your initial cash is depleted, and chance taxes have a devastating impact on your ability to stay in the game. You can imagine who the winner will be.

Researchers have played this version of the game during various workshops to help teachers, policymakers, and community leaders understand the powerful impact of racism and privilege.

Here is what they found:

  • No matter how many times you play the game, the winner is always from Group 1.
  • The order of the winners always follows the sequence of the game entry.
  • Groups 2-3 rarely build the same level of assets as Group 1.
  • Discouraged by their inability to make meaningful progress in the game, researchers note that late starters often wish to land in jail to avoid landing on expensive real estate.
  • Over and over, participants conclude: “It’s too hard to play catch up if you start late.”
The period between the arrival of the first slave ship through the period of legal segregation represents 88% of the timeline.

A few dates to consider:

  • In 1865, Gen.William T. Sherman negotiated with Rev. Garrison Frazier, a Black former slave, minister, and coalition leader, to create Field Order 15 setting aside land for former slaves from Savannah, Georgia to live on and farm. The order becomes known as “40 Acres and a Mule.” After Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson reversed Sherman’s order, giving the land back to its former Confederate owners.
  • In the 1930s, the Underwriting Manual of the Federal Housing Administration recommended that highways were a good way to separate African Americans from white neighborhoods.
  • In 1954, the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision opened the school door to all children and called for equal education.
  • In 1963, a judge ruled that the Peyton Road wall in Atlanta be demolished. The wall had been built to separate a white subdivision in Southwest Atlanta from its newest homeowner neighbor – a Black doctor and Morehouse College graduate.

Challenge Menu

How to Reduce the Wealth Gap between Black and White Americans

Kendra Newsom Reeves, a Black female business consultant, explains what the racial wealth gap is and shares that in 2020 she had numerous conversations about racial inequities that she never expected to have. She asks, “In this moment, how do we make sure that this results in action and progress to close that wealth gap between Black and white Americans?” (12 minutes)

500 Years of the Racial Wealth Gap

Explore this interactive, visual timeline of the racial wealth gap in the United States, created by Living Cities.

Atlanta’s “Berlin Wall”

In December 1962, Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. ordered barricades to be built across two Atlanta streets to discourage black citizens from purchasing homes in an adjacent all-white neighborhood.

An Atlanta Organization’s Mission to Bring Racial Equity to the Tech Ecosystem

Closing the racial wealth divide can create better health, educational, and economic outcomes for Black Americans. The tech industry, which has both a significant need for more racial equity and a plethora of jobs that do not require an expensive college degree, can offer pathways to higher incomes and opportunities for wealth creation.

The Color of Money: Selling Lettuce, He Built $3 Million Firm, But Can’t Get Business Loan

Building wealth through entrepreneurship has been a challenge for Black people throughout history. This 1988 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article highlights the banking practices that limit the growth of Black-owned small businesses and the importance of monitoring the practice as well as the policies that are intended to support equity.

Equity, The Economy, and Benefits Cliffs

Raphael Bostic, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, frames the path to progress by explaining why equity is going to be critical. (18 minutes)

The Herndons

Atlanta has a strong legacy of entrepreneurship among its Black residents. However, the journey to build wealth has not been easy. Leaders like the Herndon family inspire us to support policy and investment efforts to advance racial economic equity. In this podcast episode from Archive Atlanta, learn about the Herndons’ legacy and their leadership around issues of gender, race, entrepreneurship, and Atlanta’s role in the Civil Rights movement. (19 minutes)