african american middle class families passing on to next generation

Black Middle Class Families Moving on Up….Or Down

Posted on Posted in Blog, School Me on Research

Black Middle Class Families Moving on Up....Or Down

Who doesn't want to do better than their parents? Not in a competition kind of way. More like passing the torch or baton in leaps and bounds. It's pretty much expected don’t you think?  Growing up when my girlfriends and I visited friends with bigger homes we would pick out the houses we liked.  We would rattle off to each other how we’d like our own houses to be one day.  In my dreams my husband and I, and then one day our kiddos, would be like the Jefferson’s, justa’ moving on up.
My parents went from poverty to upper middle class. If my husband and I are fortunate enough to continue the ‘moving on up’ pattern this means that our family should make the leap from middle class to rich. Unfortunately, research says moving on up for Black folk is not so easy.  Brookings Institution reports half of Black Americans born poor stay poor.  But what is even more alarming is the fact that:
Even black Americans who make it to the middle class are likely to see their kids fall down the ladder.
Yep. According to Brookings African Americans still having less access to wealth is one reason we are challenged with moving up the economic ladder.  In 2013 the net worth of White households was $141,900 while the net worth of Black households was $11,000 and $13,700 for Hispanic households.  (And yes, I have double and triple checked these numbers.) 
Education is another factor hurting Blacks ability to move on up. Education has long been used as a means for children of all backgrounds to gain better careers and ultimately better income.  But, without a doubt money leads to having the ability to live in nice neighborhoods and nice neighborhoods usually have great schools.  Brookings reports that:
The average black student attends a school at the 37th percentile for test score results whereas the average white student attends a school in the 60th percentile.
So what if my family never gets rich? So what if we were to move on down (God forbid)? What's the big deal about moving up? For one moving up doesn't just mean a bigger house or fancier car. Moving up means that as parents we would have the ability to do many things for our children like:
  • Sending them to exquisite summer educational programs and after school activities which provide priceless exposure.
  • Funding undergraduate and graduate school.
  • Funding expenses so they can attend undergraduate or graduate school and/or take advantage of unpaid internships without having to worry about money.
  • Providing access to network with folk who may be able to mentor them through or fund their dreams.
  • Providing down payments for a house or business ventures in the future.
Our parents have long since passed us the financial baton.  In my tired, ‘when are we ever going to get there’ moments it can be scary to think that seven out of ten black Americans born into the middle quintile fall one or two quintiles below their parents' as adults. (Yikes!) We’ve yet to make leaps and bounds from our parents.  And despite the odds we still bank on getting there.  Life is too short to put time and energy into believing we will one day move on down.


Do you believe it will be easy or a challenge for your kiddos to move on up?


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