The legacy of American racism is dominating the headlines again. One of the arguments used against the removal or relocation of Confederate symbols is that “it is simply part of our history”. This is not the case. The results of the enslavement, disenfranchisement, and exclusion of black Americans remain visible and vivid in 21st century America.
Take the economic gap between black and white Americans, which is stark and stubborn. Black median household income was $36,898 in 2015, compared to $62,950 for whites. The gap has actually widened slightly since 2002 (from $23,500 to $26,000).
The black-white income gap obviously has many causes. But one that has received too little attention is the persistent race gap in rates of relative intergenerational mobility. This mobility gap means that much of the progress towards closing the race gap made by one generation is lost in the next, and the result is a century-long delay in economic improvements for black Americans.