So I started reading The Color of Wealth

Folasade Ayoola
4 min readOct 11, 2021


I’m taking this incredibly cool class this quarter, taught by Rishee Jain and Anthony Kinslow II. Of the readings for the week were a couple chapters from The Color of Wealth by Barbara Robles, Betsy Leondar-Wright, and Rose Brewer. I started to write what was supposed to be a 250-word reflection and I suppose I had a lot on my mind (hopefully the word limit is more of a suggestion 🥴).

A lot of what I read, I already knew, but some themes from the first chapter seemed worth highlighting. I’ve only gotten past so much of the book but I thought that for once, I’d share some of my thoughts with you. I’ve already checked out Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law from the library and can’t wait to delve right in.


Reading the first chapter, a few things stood out to me, and I’ll highlight those quotes here:

  • Re: “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” — “It may be true that he studied hard, worked hard, saved — and so can claim credit for his assets. But how much of the credit is his? How much is due to public investments in his family?”
  • Re: how to prioritize immediate needs (survival) vs thriving in activism, advocacy, and policy, as well as discounting for present vs future welfare — “…assets can seem like a secondary concern for people who are incarcerated, homeless, or shut out of decent employment; advocacy has often been concentrated on the causes of people with the greatest need”.
  • Re: accounting for the “Black Tax” — “The real story of the meaning of race in modern America, however, must include a serious consideration of how one generation passes advantage and disadvantage to the next — how individuals’ starting points are determined”
  • Honestly, everything from the Snapshot of the 1850s and Snapshot of the 1950s sections.
  • On the reverberating effects of systems of enslavement and how it’s not “ended a long time ago” — “And it is true that the best-known transfers of wealth from people of color to white people — taking land from Native Americans and Mexicans, as well as slavery — are no longer in living memory of the people in the United States today”
  • This part resonated with me 2nd year of my MS, apartment hunting for months, while classmates closed leases within a couple days — “While filmed by a secret camera, they applied for jobs, apartments, and car loans, and met very different receptions. The white young man was offered good deals and rap- idly found a position, a home, and a car. The black man was told that apartments had been filled, was rejected for jobs, and was required to pay a higher down payment and interest rate on his car loan. People were rude to his face and security guards followed him around stores”
  • Re: tackling educational access inequality solely as a solution, particularly given the commodification of college education and how it impoverishes many young people with diminishing returns — “Mostly people get their jobs through social net- works and connections. Usually it’s someone you know — your uncle in the next city or a friend of a friend who knows somebody in your industry. And that is how we get the foot in the door. Unfortunately, because most jobs in businesses are controlled or owned by whites, given the structure of ownership in America, that leads to the perpetuation of racial inequality in the labor market.”
  • Re: “classism and the capitalism are the true enemy” — “every class politics implicitly takes a stand on issues of race,” and it’s not a coincidence that those disadvantaged by economic policies since the 1980s have been disproportionately people of color”

The emphasis on the role of the government was very apt. Reading chapter one and looking up the change in home-ownership statistics to present date (2003 vs 2019: White non-Hispanic 75.4% vs 73.3%; AAPI 56.3% vs 57.7%; Native American/Alaskan Native 54.3% vs 50.8%; Hispanic/Latinx 46.7% vs 47.5%; Black 48.1% vs 42.1%; All races/ethnicities 68.3% vs 64.6%). The marked drop in Black homeownership, more so than any other group and the only one more so than average, prompted me to read Chapter 3: Forged In Blood. I found myself pausing for a bit to ruminate on how the conversation around abortion rights and a womxn’s right to choose has evolved along with the bodily autonomy and economic liberation of women of color, especially Black Womxn. Black Womxn’s bodies have gone from being considered tools for the reproduction of “free labor” to tools for the subjugation of white superiority by a Black-/Brown- majority.