In Boston, African-Americans Are Worth $8, Dominicans Worth $0

The findings revealed the household median net worth as $247,500 for white people, $3,020 for Puerto Ricans — and $8 for African Americans and $0 for Dominicans.

If this doesn’t cement the fact that Boston is a racist city, probably nothing will.

The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative reporters conducted hundreds of interviews to find out whether the city really deserved its racist reputation. Turns out, it definitely did — because apparently the median net worth for non-immigrant African-Americans in the greater Boston region is just $8, according to “The Color of Wealth in Boston,” a report released in 2015 by the Duke University, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the New School.

Researchers conducted phone interviews with residents in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., Tulsa, and of course, Boston and asked them about their assets, personal savings, loans, investments and financial resources.

In Boston, the researchers focused on multigenerational African Americans, Haitians and Caribbean blacks, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and both black and white people of Cape Verdeans, out of the pool of which 403 people were surveyed.

The findings revealed the household median net worth was $247,500 for white people, $12,000 for Caribbean blacks, $3,020 for Puerto Ricans — and $8 for African Americans and $0 for Dominicans.

In this case, both tangible (assets, real estate property, car, etc.) and financial assets (money market funds, retirement accounts, life insurance, saving accounts, checking accounts, etc.) were taken into account as well as liabilities like mortgage, student loans, medical debts, etc.

This means African Americans and Dominicans in greater Boston owe almost as much as what they own. In comparison, the white households in Boston are worth $247,500 — that’s nearly 31,000 times more than the city’s African Americans.

Thousands of black migrants escaping from the Jim Crow South in the early 20th century came to Boston, where they met with similar hostility from the city’s white people. The tension increased in the 1970s when desegregation busing programs were introduced in Boston’s public schools. The white population protested the move and many of them tried to bar black students from entering schools.

In fact, in 30 years, the number of black managers and top officials in Boston has only increased by 0.1 percent.

“A lot of times when Boston engages in looking at itself around race, it focuses on attitudes and prejudices,” James Jennings, professor emeritus of race, politics and urban policy at Tufts University, said. “With that, Boston certainly has made a lot of progress, but Boston needs to start looking at structural inequality — racial hierarchy, poverty, academic achievement — to move the needle forward.” 

Thumbnail/Banner: REUTERS, Patrick Doyle

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