A Dream Still Deferred

Fifty years after the stirring speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Smithsonian Mall in Washington, D.C., we have an African-American president in the White House. But has America really entered a “post-racial” phase? Segregation may no longer be legal, but it persists: in housing, in education, in employment, in opportunity and connections, in legacy wealth, in health care, and in myriad other ways. Look at this economic data:

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What you see in the table above is that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 the median household wealth (comprising cash, investments, homes, cars and other assets) for America’s white families was $110,500. For blacks it was $6,314.

It is hard to climb up through the system with so few assets. And outright legal discrimination is being rapidly replaced by “coded” laws, such as the “Stand Your Ground” laws , and the new Voter ID laws, especially but not exclusively proliferating through the South.

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Is this the legal legacy we want for the United States?

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