structuring_of_racial_inequality_in_american_life - .~...

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6 Structuring of Racial uality in American Life -R.H. Tawney, Equality uction ~chapter we begin the process of identifying and explaining the factors, ~~es, and structures behind the vast wealth gap separating blacks and We pose the central question ofwhy the wealth portfolios for blacks ites of equal stature and accomplishment vary so drastically, address- isquestion in three stages. The first stage investigates the extent to 4uman capital and sociological and labor market factors explain the ealth disparity. In chapter 5, we investigated how racial wealth differ- .ave been affected by individual factors one at a time, that is, how ion alone or occupation alone affects wealth differently for whites and .The task before us now is both more substantively significant and ·cally complicated. Our analysis must address how much of the racial difference can be explained by a multiple set offactors-education, , occupation, and so on-working together. Furthermore, we want to which of these factors most influence changes in wealth while simul- sly controlling for the effects of all others. Finally, we want to deter- ow much of the existing wealth gap between blacks and whites is istribution of wealth depends, not wholly, indeed, but largely, on 's] institutions; and the character of [a society's] institutions mined, not by immutable economic laws, but by the values, nces, interests and ideals which rule at any moment in a given .~ .. ,~-,---------------------------------------------- ------------
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128 / OLIVER AND SHAPIRO related to the fact that blacks do not share the same social and demographic characteristics as whites and how much can best be explained by race itself. The second stage brings institutional and policy discrimination from the public and private spheres into the analysis. This section focuses on one insti- tutional and policy arena-the mechanisms surrounding homeownership, most notably, housing and mortgage markets. Home ownership is a crucial social area for several reasons. In many ways owning a home represents the sine qua non ofthe American Dream. Yet racial segregation still characterizes neighborhoods and housing patterns in America. The effects of racial residen- tial segregation go far beyond the mere restriction of blacks (and other minorities) to central-city ghettos and a few isolated communities elsewhere in the metropolitan areas. Racial segregation, as Ellis Cose notes in his The Rage ofa Privileged Class, also denies African Americans and minorities access to jobs and high-quality schools, consigning these groups to socially and often spatially isolated inner-city ghettos. We have already discussed the importance of housing equity in both white and black wealth portfolios. For most Americans, excluding the very rich and the very poor, home equity represents the only major repository of accrued wealth, leaving aside the question of whether it is actually fungible. This section explores the ways in which the denial of access to mortgage and housing markets on equal terms severely constrains blacks' ability to accumulate assets. Using the racialization of the
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structuring_of_racial_inequality_in_american_life - .~...

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