The Second Racial Wealth Gap

White millennials can often rely on their parents for financial assistance. For many black and Hispanic millennials, it’s the other way around.

  • Racial Wealth Gap
    A millennial who receives regular financial gifts and support from parents will either have the money to cover an emergency themselves, or (more likely) have a parent or grandparent cover it so there’s no damage to their credit.
    Photo by Fotolia/Retrostar

  • Racial Wealth Gap

He died on Saturday.

My mother and I had planned to pick my dad up from the hospital for a trip to the park. He loved to sit and watch families stroll by as we chatted about oak trees, Kona coffee, and the mysteries of God. This time, the park would miss him. His skin, smooth and brown like the outside of an avocado seed, glistened with sweat as he struggled to take his last breaths.

In that next year, I graduated from grad school, got a new job, and looked forward to saving for a down payment on my first home—a dream I had always had, but found lofty. I pulled up a blank spreadsheet and made a line item called “House Fund.”

That same week I got a call from my mom—she was struggling to pay off my dad’s funeral expenses. I looked at my “House Fund” and sighed. Then I deleted it and typed the words “Funeral Fund” instead.

My father’s passing was unexpected. And so was the financial burden that came with it.

For many millennials of color, these sorts of trade-offs aren’t an anomaly. During key times in their lives when they should be building assets, they’re spending money on basic necessities and often helping out family. Their financial future is a rocky one, and much of it comes down to how much—or how little—assistance they receive.

8/7/2019 10:17:58 AM

A powerful article that helps me, the reader, understand the continuing income inequality between white people and people of color. I am a white boomer who’s helped my millennial adult children financially somewhat. I give my condolences to Ms Jones on the loss of her father and to her mother on the loss of her husband. Even though it’s been a few years, I’m sure they still feel his absence. I hope Mel Jones fulfills her dream of owning a home sooner than later (or has fulfilled it).

3/25/2016 7:16:58 AM

Financial planning hits everyone. This is not new. Talk to your relative and friends make a will. Get all the legal stuff done no matter how little or haow much you have otherwise the costs are going to come upon the unprepared. Today costs a lot more than it did. tomorrow will cost a lot more than today. Making excuses does not work. It is up to you to do what is necessary and get your estate in order. Always making excuses like death won't come. Death comes for all just like taxes.

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