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What are some of the governmental policies described by Oliver and Shapiro that contributed to and increased the racial disparities in wealth between White people and Black people?

One of the governmental policies described by Oliver and Shapiro that have contributed towards and increased the racial disparities in wealth between White people and Black people is the Social Security Act of 1935. As the benefits available under the Act were based on wages, military service, and unionization, African Americans were at a disadvantage. Their wages were much lower, they were restricted in serving in the military, and relatively few of them were members of labor unions.

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The first main concept employed by Oliver and Shapiro in Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality is that of the racialization of state policy. This term is used to refer to how state policy, over many years, has impaired the ability of many Black Americans to accumulate...

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The first main concept employed by Oliver and Shapiro in Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality is that of the racialization of state policy. This term is used to refer to how state policy, over many years, has impaired the ability of many Black Americans to accumulate wealth. From the enslavement of African Americans though to welfare state policies that discourage the accumulation of wealth, the state had placed considerable barriers in the way of black economic self-sufficiency.

While promoting homestead land acquisition, homeownership, retirement, pensions, and education for some, successive governments have denied these state-sponsored opportunities to African Americans, thus ensuring their relative impoverishment and subordination within the economic system.

Later on in the book, Oliver and Shapiro give precise examples of what they mean by the racialization of state policy. One such example is the homestead policy of the nineteenth century, which allowed many White families to own land for the first time. However, the same right was not extended to African Americans, who were in many cases legally barred from enforcing claims to land.

Then there was the Social Security Act of 1935, the centerpiece of New Deal legislation. Under the Act, men’s benefits were tied to wages, military service, and involvement in labor union activity. These provisions put African Americans at a disadvantage because they earned considerably less than their White counterparts, were disproportionately ineligible for military service, and were less fully unionized than white workers.

As the Social Security Act wasn’t based on any notion of equality, it’s not surprising that it discriminated against African Americans and other minorities.

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