Juneteenth forces America to face lasting effects of slavery economy

The once vague commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved people in Juneteenth, Texas, has turned into an annual reminder of how slavery robbed black Americans of generational wealth.

why it matters: The lack of generational wealth still deprives black families of the economic security that many white families provide.

By numbers: Rochester told Axios that nearly $50 trillion of economic resources and labor have not been paid to black people since slavery. Advocates say this legacy of slavery must be addressed to tackle systemic racism.

  • As of the end of 2020, the homeownership rate for black households was about 44%, compared to 75% for white households, the U.S. Census numbers show.
  • A Washington Post analysis found that a typical middle-class black family had a net worth of $13,024, compared to $149,703 for the average white family in 2016—a huge percentage difference compared to 1968.
  • Black households had $8,762 in cash or equivalent liquid assets, compared to $49,529 for white households in 2016, an Economic Policy Institute analysis of government data found.
Protesters gather in Washington, DC to support Black Lives Matter and at Juneteenth in 2020. Photo: Michael A. McCoy / Getty Images

Context: In the 1800s, America became an economic power due to the use of slave labor in the growing cotton industry.

  • Slaves built capitol buildings, the White House, roads and infrastructure, and various universities across the country, all without compensation.
  • The sale of enslaved people also financed universities such as Georgetown.
  • By 1860, the value of enslaved people was “about three times the total amount invested in banks”, and it was “equivalent to about seven times the total value of all the currency in circulation in the country,” wrote Steven Deyle. Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life.

just before releaseBlack Americans – free and enslaved – owned only half of the national wealth.

  • In the decades following slavery, black Americans were often barred from buying property, limited in pursuing legal claims, barred from voting, and sent to segregated schools.
  • Successful Black Businesses in Tulsa, Okla., and East St. Louis, Ill. Like thrive in the enclave, only to be destroyed by the white horde. Business owners who had insured their enterprises were unable to collect on their premiums.

running news: The death of George Floyd last year forced a national paradigm shift on social justice, and this year more Juneteenth events are coinciding with forums about how the nation benefited financially from the black lives of slaves, and how people of color All people’s labor came in less value than their white counterparts.

  • The Movement for Black Lives is using the Juneteenth ceremony to discuss reparations as a means to build wealth and Addressing racial inequalities in education, housing and business ownership.
  • Georgetown Law School’s Institute of International Economic Law and the Black Economic Alliance hosted members of Congress this week at the Juneteenth Forum on Involving Black Americans in the Digital Economy.
  • And the McKinsey Global Institute and the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility released a report this week that detailed the inequalities created after generations of black economic participation and exclusion in the US economy.

Intrigue: The economic effects of slavery and segregation are taken into account as a Republican-controlled legislatures are passing bills that prohibit schools from studying systemic racism as part of the US legal framework, an area known as critical race theory

do not forget: For years, Juneteenth is celebrated in Houston and Galveston, Texas to commemorate General Order No. 3, issued by US Major General Gordon Granger, a month after the formal termination civil war.

  • Galveston is one of the last places in America where enslaved people learned of their emancipation.

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