By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
According to Dr. Rose Brewer, co-author of The Color of Wealth, we are at a defining moment in United States history when we have to decide what is to be done about the distribution of wealth. While the recession is hitting all U.S. citizens hard, it has been especially detrimental to minorities, with new datashowing that whites have, on average, “20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data.”
On Thursday, October 27, The Denver Foundation sponsored a community dialogue with Dr. Brewer as part of its Inclusiveness Project to bring awareness to the public policies that have brought us to where we are today. Dr. Brewer traces modern disparities to slavery and other such racial divides that prevented minorities from accumulating assets. “If there is little to pass on, there is little to build on,” she explains of the debt inherited by minorities who were not able to establish wealth early on in U.S. history like white citizens were (either by owning land or slaves). While she believes that some have avoided conversations about wealth gaps because it requires facing an uncomfortable and difficult past, the recession has now paved the way for such conversations.
Given the considerable turnout at the community dialogue, the Denver community seems to agree that it is time to talk about the distribution of wealth in this country. Dr. Brewer called on attendees to keep talking about the wealth gap, laying the foundation for “movement building,” as she called it. She warned that movement building “means you have to move,” a statement that was met with some giggles. Despite the obviousness of her statement, Dr. Brewer stressed that movements are not easy and will require struggle. Participants must struggle to organize and stay informed about various policies that affect working class and minority families.
“It’s not that everyone hasn’t been hurt [by the recession], it’s the disparity,” says Dr. Brewer. Her goal in writing The Color of Wealth and speaking at the community dialogue is “not to pit group against group…[it is] a chance to re-imagine a society that would truly create across the board justice.”
Dr. Brewer left attendees with a quote familiar to social reformers across the globe, “Another world is possible, another U.S. is necessary.”