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Overall, the typical white family enjoys a net worth that is more than seven
times that of its black counterpart.

Why is this the case? Because white people in America have been receiving race-
based Affirmative Action from the government for around 400 years.

This wealth has been passed down for generations of white citizens, in the form of
education, job opportunity, housing opportunity, property ownership, and inherited

If you are a white person in the United States, almost without exception you receive
at least some (if not most) of the benefits of White Affirmative Action: in the
composition + wealth of the town you live in (built by racial segregation), in your
schools (received more government funds for 100 years that schools of color), your
job opportunities (from social networks of other white professionals who received
similar benefits over generations), etc. White people still tend to get easier credit
terms, better schools, shorter prison sentences, and more generous government
benefits than people of color.

I'm not saying this to make you feel guilty - in fact I don't think any of us are to
blame at all. We can't be responsible for what happened in the past - but we can
take responsibility for the inequality and injustice that is happening right now.

And the first step is learning a little about it!


Here are a few ways in which government programs and practices have
channeled wealth and opportunities to white people at the expense of
people of color.

1. White Americans were given a head start with the help of the U.S. Army. The
1830 Indian Removal Act, for example, forcibly relocated Cherokee, Creeks and
other eastern Indians to west of the Mississippi River to make room for white
settlers. The 1862 Homestead Act followed suit, giving away millions of acres of what
had been Indian Territory west of the Mississippi. Ultimately, 270 million acres, or
10% of the total land area of the United States, was converted to private white
ownership under Homestead Act provisions.

2. The 1790 Naturalization Act permitted only "free white persons" to become
naturalized citizens. Only citizens could vote, serve on juries, hold office, and
even hold property. Racial barriers to naturalized U.S. citizenship weren't removed
until the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952, and white racial preferences in immigration
remained until 1965.
3. Slavery.

4. Jim Crow laws, instituted in the late 19th and early 20th century and not
overturned in many states until the 1960s, reserved the best jobs, neighborhoods,
schools and hospitals for white people.

5. The landmark Social Security Act of 1935 provided a safety net for millions of
workers, guaranteeing them an income after retirement. But the Social Security act
specifically excluded two occupations: agricultural workers and domestic servants,
who were predominately African American, Mexican, and Asian. As low-income
workers, they also had the least opportunity to save for their retirement. They
couldn't pass wealth on to their children. Just the opposite. Their children had to
support them.

6. Like Social Security, the 1935 Wagner Act helped establish an important new right
for white people. By granting unions the power of collective bargaining, it helped
millions of white workers gain entry into the middle class over the next 30 years. But
the Wagner Act permitted unions to exclude non-whites and deny them access to
better paid jobs and union protections and benefits such as health care, job security,
and pensions. Many craft unions remained nearly all-white well into the 1970s. In
1972, for example, every single one of the 3,000 members of Los Angeles Steam
Fitters Local #250 was still white.

7. But it was another racialized New Deal program, the GI Bill and the Federal
Housing Administration, that helped generate much of the wealth that so many white
families enjoy today. These revolutionary programs made it possible for millions of
average white Americans - but not others - to own a home for the first time. The
government set up a national neighborhood appraisal system, explicitly tying
mortgage eligibility to race. Non-white communities were deemed a "financial risk"
and made ineligible for home loans, a policy known today as "redlining." Between
1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More
than 98% went to whites. (!!!)

In Conclusion:

What you're looking at is over 400 years of government-backed transfer of wealth

away from people of color and towards white people. Fundamentally, this is White
Affirmative Action, in the fields of civil rights, property, job opportunities, home
ownership, healthcare, social security, etc.

How can this not have huge consequences for every aspect of American life and

1. The typical white family today has on average seven times the assets, or net
worth, of a typical African American family. Much of that wealth difference can be
attributed to the value of one's home, and how much one inherited from parents.

2. But a family's net worth is not simply the finish line, it's also the starting point for
the next generation. Those with wealth pass their assets on to their children - by
financing a college education, lending a hand during hard times, or assisting with the
down payment for a home. Some economists estimate that up to 80 percent of
lifetime wealth accumulation depends on these intergenerational transfers. White
advantage is passed down, from parent to child to grand-child. As a result, the racial
wealth gap - and the head start enjoyed by whites - appears to have grown since the
civil rights days.

3. In 1865, just after Emancipation, it is not surprising that African Americans owned
0.5 percent of the total worth of the United States. But by 1990, a full 135 years
after the abolition of slavery, Black Americans still possessed only a meager 1
percent of national wealth.

4. The racial wealth gap is even worse thanks to the sub-prime mortage crisis,
during which predatory lenders specifically targetted poor people-of-color for
exploitation (Wells Fargo even circulated a memo calling them "ghetto loans" to
"mud people"). This crisis moved 90 billion dollars out of the black community and
into the hands of white bankers, the largest racial transfer of wealth in America since
D. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?(Reparations!)

1. One indication that attacks on affirmative action are part of a white backlash
against equality is that affirmative action (in the form of preferences that primarily
benefit white people) are not being questioned.

2. I humbly propose that, to counter 300+ years of intensely racist affirmative action
in favor of white people, that we strive to equalize the wealth gap by instituting
affirmative action for all people of color.

3. This can include job opportunities, preferential hiring, grants and scholarships,
etc. But more importantly, I think it should be based around a re-investment in
communities of color: building good schools, health-care centers and hospitals,
providing well-paying jobs, post-prison rehabilitation programs, etc.

4. I know that sounds complicated, but I'm not here to talk about how to make a
perfect Reparations for People of Color plan. I'm just here to explain why I think it's

5. Here is an elegant summary and defense of Affirmative


1. Wasn't this stuff all in the past?

I mean, it's just one or two generations back. When we're talking about inherited
wealth and economic opportunity, what happened to your great-grandparents is very
relevant, as the statistics of family wealth, job opportunity, education, health, etc. all

2. This doesn't apply to me, I'm [jewish, an immigrant, poor, etc.]

There are many white people who this does not apply to specifically - you may be
one of them. But it's natural to feel defensive - we like to believe what we have is
the result of hard work. And it is. It is also, however, the result of a significant
amount of government assistance for generations and generations in our families.
Even white immigrants like my family only made it to this country because we have
immigration policies that favored white immigrants from Europe over others.

3. What about colorblind policies that treat everyone the same?

Colorblindness today treates everyone equally, but white americans already have an
unfair advantage, so colorblind policies just keep that advantage in place and it gets
worse and worse over time.
4. What about class-based policies instead of race-based policies?

Looking at class-based policies in the past, like the New Deal programs, you can see
that without an explicit race-based component the administration and application of
those policies tends to re-create racist dynamics and benefit only white people. In
almost every single circumstance, class-based policies are manipulated to benefit
white people over people of color because they don't address the racial problems
inherent in the system so of course they fail because of those problems.

5. What about [some innacuracy or an argument over the statistics or whatever].

While this list is factually solid, I'm sure there is a mistake here and there. The point
isn't whether each individual point is completely right, but rather that together they
paint a clear picture of hundreds of years of affirmative action in favor of white
people that needs to be reversed.

6. Shouldn't we just focus on changing people's attitudes?

There does need to be a shift in people's attitudes. But that alone won't make a
single person's life better.

Besides, the point of this is that it isn't attitudes that creates this system - it's
economic policy. So for the inequality to change, we need to change the policies that
create + perpetuate it.

7. What exactly are you trying to do here?

I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad. I just think that those of us who are white
people should know our history, and take responsibility for the benefits we have
received by supporting equality and justice in our country.

8. Okay, you win. What can I do to help?

Ideally, I want everyone to become active in a reparations struggle (not necessarily

in name) in your community. That means supporting funding and quality schools for
students of color. It means supporting rehabilitation and ending the racist prison
industry. Volunteer your time with a group that gives supplies or help to folks dealing
with the consequences of this system. All around you there are people of color
fighting for what they are owed by this country, and they would be glad to have your