‘Not a typo’: Disbelief as Boston Globe confirms median net worth of black Bostonians is $8
The Boston Globe had to explain there were no typographical errors in its report about Boston’s black community. Readers contacted the paper after it reported the median net worth of African-American households in the Boston area is a paltry $8.
The Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigation team cited the statistic in its first installment of a series focusing on Boston’s black community and the city’s reputation as one of the most racist urban regions in America.
Sandwiched between other realities facing African-Americans living in the periphery of Massachusetts’ capital, the eyebrow-raising statistic left many readers wondering if the number was a typo, prompting the Boston Globe to write a follow-up article the next day, on December 11, titled: “That was no typo: The median net worth of black Bostonians really is $8.”
The $8 figure comes from a 2015 report authored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University, and the New School. According to the report, the median household net worth in the Greater Boston region is $247,500 for whites, $8 for US blacks, $12,000 for Caribbean blacks, $3,020 for Puerto Ricans and $0 for Dominicans.
The Globe’s follow-up article noted that net worth is determined by subtracting debts from assets, which means that blacks and Dominicans in Greater Boston “owe almost as much as the combined value of what they own — if they own anything at all.”
A reader just asked me whether it was a typo when @GlobeSpotlight wrote that non-immigrant African-Americans in Greater Boston have a median net worth of $8. Sadly, no. https://t.co/eacFWayvLm— Todd Wallack (@TWallack) December 10, 2017
Boston median net worth $247,500 for whites; $8 for US blacks (the lowest); $12,000 for Caribbean blacks; $3,020 for Puerto Ricans; and $0 for Dominicans (that’s not a typo either.) The sample size for Cape Verdeans was too small to calculate net worth, the report said. #wtfpic.twitter.com/loPnxC7vi1— The 1•1•2 (@SocailNews) December 12, 2017
Black Boston families are worth a median $8. If you’re not outraged, you’re a white supremacist. EIGHT DOLLARS.— Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein 🇧🇧 (@IBJIYONGI) December 11, 2017
While the economic security of Boston-area blacks may be conspicuously dicey, studies point to a nationwide trend of African-American households haemorrhaging wealth.
A recent report by the People's Policy Project, an economic think tank, found that black wealth suffered considerably during the Obama administration.
"Between 2007 and 2016, the average wealth of the bottom 99 percent decreased by $4,500. This decline was particularly concentrated among the housing wealth of African-Americans. Outside of home equity, black wealth recovered its 2007 level by 2016. But average black home equity was still $16,700 less. Meanwhile, over the same period, the average wealth of the top 1% increased by $4.9 million," the report concluded.
Citing the report, the left-leaning Jacobin magazine said that “the first black president in American history turned out to be a disaster for black wealth.”
Race aside, income inequality continues to balloon in the United States. The richest 1 percent of families controlled a record-high 38.6 percent of the country's wealth in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve report published in September. That’s nearly twice as much as the bottom 90 percent, which has seen its wealth continue to erode.
READ MORE: America's richest 1% owns 40% of country's wealth - study
Presently, one in five American households now have zero or negative wealth. The appalling statistics have even caught the eye of international human rights watchdogs.
A special envoy of the UN is currently investigating poverty in the self-declared leader of the free world. Last week, The UN investigator said that parts of rural Alabama displayed some of the worst levels of poverty in the developed world.