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New Pew research on record-high racial wealth gaps reaffirms need for America healing

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The Pew Research Center released a report on July 26 that found wealth gaps between whites and blacks, and between whites and Hispanics, reached record highs during the recent recession. It is important to understand why these racial wealth gaps exist, in order to create ways to improve the overall health, education and economic security of vulnerable children and families in our country.

The recession that began in 2007 put millions of Americans out of work, out of their homes and pushed more children and families into poverty. Yet the recession exacted a particularly harsh toll on black and Hispanic families. The Pew Research Center reports that, between 2005 and 2009, median household wealth plummeted by 53 percent for blacks and 66 percent for Hispanics, compared with a 16 percent drop for whites.

The report also found residential segregation patterns in these record high racial wealth gaps. A disproportionate share of Hispanics live in the four states (California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona) where the steepest declines in housing values occurred since the burst of the housing bubble in 2006. Homeownership by Hispanics fell by three percent and from 2005-2009, the median level of home equity held by Hispanic homeowners declined by half.

The Kellogg Foundation is pleased that the Pew Research Center analyzed this data, and shared these findings to illuminate how low wealth and high poverty manifest themselves in a range of negative outcomes for blacks and Hispanics, from higher infant mortality, to lower educational achievement, to higher rates of disease like diabetes and hypertension.

Although our country has made great progress in fighting the legacy of racism, there still is much important work to do.

Through the Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing work, we hope to deepen a collective understanding about the historical injustices leading to these inequities. Importantly, community-based organizations across the country are coming together to directly address issues of race and its impact on society. By working to achieve racial equity, we also are working toward our vision of a country where all children have a promising future.

View the Pew Research Center report.

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