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A national debt: Should the government compensate for slavery and racism?

Quoted: The racial wealth gap began with slavery, but even after the institution was abolished, the gap persisted, said University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor Steve Kantrowitz.

Many Black Americans could not qualify for Social Security, as jobs typically held by Black workers, such as agricultural and domestic positions, were excluded from the program. Black residents also were blocked from getting some home loans and from living in the types of neighborhoods where home values were steady or rising. Such barriers made it nearly impossible for Black people to acquire and accumulate wealth at the rate of white Americans, Kantrowitz said.

“So the end of slavery didn’t mean that Black and white people were suddenly on an equal economic, political, civil footing,” Kantrowitz said. “It meant instead that the institution of slavery had been formally abolished, and disabilities that followed from slavery were supposed to be abolished.”