While many are celebrating the long-overdue acknowledgment of Juneteenth, some Republican lawmakers have completely opposed the federal holiday and the educational value behind it. Although Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans, and it should be a day of celebration, there are a few reasons why the symbol of freedom ruffles the feathers of some.
Axios highlights that Juneteenth is an "annual reminder" of how Black Americans were denied opportunities to create generational wealth. The publication describes that denial, which remains an issue for an overwhelming number of Black families today, as the "economic security that many white families take for granted."
In his book, The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America, author Shawn Rochester offers an assessment of how today's disparities are direct vestiges of slavery's legacy and the debilitating laws enacted during the grim Jim Crow era. Statistical breakdowns of the economic figures also shed light on the wealth gaps that have widened even more in recent decades.
"Around $50 trillion of economic resources and labor has not been paid to Black people since slavery, Rochester told Axios. Advocates say this legacy of slavery must be addressed to tackle systemic racism."
From homeownership to net worth, the evident disparities are problematic despite Republican lawmakers' attempts to downplay the economic hardships and act as if no problem exists.
- "By the end of 2020, the homeownership rate for Black families stood around 44%, compared with 75% for white families, U.S. Census numbers showed."
The Washington Post also released an analysis documenting the economic divide. The publication found that a typical middle-class Black household a wealth amount of approximately $13,024 compared to a staggering average of $149,703 in white households.that a typical middle-class Black household a wealth amount of approximately $13,024 compared to a staggering average of $149,703 in white households. The current gap between the two households pales in comparison to the same statistics from 1968.
Per The Washington Post:
"In 1968, a typical middle-class black household had $6,674 in wealth compared with $70,786 for the typical middle-class white household, according to data from the historical Survey of Consumer Finances that has been adjusted for inflation. In 2016, the typical middle-class black household had $13,024 in wealth versus $149,703 for the median white household, an even larger gap in percentage terms."
An Economic Policy Institute analysis also found that "Black households had $8,762 in cash or equivalent liquid assets, compared with $49,529 for white households in 2016." For Republican lawmakers, the reminder of the country's divide forces them to acknowledge what they've always ignored.