As the first high-profile politician to announce a presidential run, Warren is the pacesetter for the 2020 Democratic primary. Her prominent mention of the racial wealth gap signals that it could become a defining issue in the race, especially at a time when people of color matter more than ever to the Democratic Party’s chances. With surging black and Latino voting power offering new pathways to victory in 2020, candidates might feel more compelled than in past races to offer bold strategies to fix the enduring economic legacy of white supremacy.
The racial wealth gap is a straightforward issue that almost nobody can agree on how to fix. White people have way more money than everyone else, and it’s not just income: Although there are persistent differences in wage, salary, and benefits between races, much of the wealth gap is attributable to real estate and other individual assets, as well as disparities in familial assets and incomes. As described in a graphic in Warren’s video, and confirmed by recent studies of economic data, the median wealth of white families sits north of $100,000, while black median wealth hovers around $0, and might even be negative. And while the differences between white and black Americans are the most extreme, other underrepresented minority groups also face vast deficits relative to white families.