Wealth Inequality 


Slavery (early 1600s-1865) 

  • Slaves were not allowed to own any property.  
  • This was the start of a nearly 300-year disadvantage in a system where property has become a symbol of freedom and mobility, of which Black people have continuously been systemically denied. 

Cottager System (1800s-1930s) 

  • Due to embedded post-abolition racism, freed Black people weren’t able to get and sustain jobs in most industries. Many ended up in the cottager system, which subjected them to many of the same horrors of plantation and farm labor under chattel slavery, just with the benefit of a wage (but never a substantial one) and land to grow their own crops.  

Great Migration (1916-1970) 

  • As freed Black people from the South to NJ, the Great Migration laid the foundation for Black “ghettos,” since migrants were only allowed to move into certain areas due to redlining and restrictive covenants. 

Great Depression (1929-1939) 

  • During the Great Depression, Black people in NJ suffered more than any other group in the state. Black unemployment was nearly double that of white and by 1932, 26% of the families on state relief were Black, even though they were only 5% of the population. 

Restrictive Covenants (1920-1948) 

  • The prohibited Black people from occupying, purchasing, or leasing property throughout the nation and state, and meant that Black people were pushed into undesirable areas, leading to increases in poverty and health issues among Black residents. 

Redlining (1935-Present) 

  • The Homeowners Loan Corporation (HOLC) produced maps of metropolitan areas that outlined Black communities in red to signal that these were risky areas for lending institutions to issue federally insured mortgages.  
  • To date, despite the end of the HOLC, urban centers, which are often predominantly Black areas, throughout the state of NJ are denied access to fair borrowing loans. 

Predatory Lending (1955-Present) 

  • Predatory lending is when banks offer prospective home buyers subprime loans that have higher interest rates - leading to homeowners, which are often Black people, to default on these loans and have their homes foreclosed.  
  • The impact is wealth stripping in Black communities; once homes are foreclosed upon, there is rarely a return to homeownership.  
  • Black communities have devastating homeownership rates throughout the state as a direct result of this practice. 

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