The Color of Wealth

The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide

An eye-opening field guide to the wealth gap

“United for a Fair Economy is the single most effective group in the country when it comes to publicizing issues of economic injustice and the racial underpinnings of the gap between rich and poor.” —John Nichols, The Nation

For every dollar owned by the average white family in the United States, the average family of color has less than a dime. Why do people of color have so little wealth? The Color of Wealth lays bare a dirty secret: for centuries, people of color have been barred by laws and by discrimination from participating in government wealth-building programs that benefit white Americans.

This accessible book—published in conjunction with one of the country’s leading economics education organizations—makes the case that until government policy tackles disparities in wealth, not just income, the United States will never have racial or economic justice.

Written by five leading experts on the racial wealth divide who recount the asset-building histories of Native Americans, Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and European Americans, this book is a uniquely comprehensive multicultural history of American wealth. With its focus on public policies—how, for example, many post–World War II GI Bill programs helped whites only—The Color of Wealth is the first book to demonstrate the decisive influence of government on Americans’ net worth.

The authors are all part of United for a Fair Economy, a national nonpartisan organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, that campaigns against growing income—and wealth inequality and inspires action to reduce economic inequality.


“This book shows how class and race intersect and suggests that economic and racial inequality are so intertwined that only a double assault on both can bring justice to an unjust society.”
—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States
“Never mind the income gap. Measuring and explaining the wealth gap gets to the foundation of the power differences that exist in the United States. This book is an important contribution to critical work on race and economics.”
—Julianne Malveaux, author of Wall Street, Main Street and the Side Street
“Regardless of their points of origin, all American families engaged in vigorous bootstrap tugging, but with widely divergent results. This important book debunks wealth creation mythology. Read it!”
—Bill Fletcher Jr., president, TransAfrica Forum
“Urgently confronts how race and class are entwined in the United States. Guided by a compelling vision of greater equality, this fine book combines clarity with learning both to instruct and to imagine a better future.”
—Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White

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