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Juneteenth: Socioeconomic Disparities in the Black American Population

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Another important subject of disparity for Black Americans and many minority individuals in America is socioeconomic status.


In remembrance of Juneteenth, it is important that we remember the long history of inequality that was endured by the African American people for generations. Juneteenth stands for June 19th on which day slaves in the United States were freed. It is considered a type of Independence Day or Day of Freedom for people of color in our country. This day should not be confused with the date of the Emancipation Proclamation which was January 1, 1863. The actually freedom of slaves did not come soon after the Emancipation. It was 2 and a half years before slaves were able to live as citizens (and I put that lightly because, as we all know, they were not treated equal and even today they still face adversity simply due to the color of their skin). No, freedom did not come on January 1, 1863, it came on June 19, 1865. On this day, "the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free" (


  • From 1983-2016, the racial wealth divide has grown significantly. In 1983, the median wealth of white adults was $110,160 versus $7,323 for Black Americans in the US. The numbers in 2016 were $146,984 vs $3,557. That means that in 1983, black people made, on average, 6% of what the average white person made in the US. In 2016, that percentage moved to 2%. Not only was the disparity tremendous before, but now it’s THREE TIMES LOWER.

  • The top tier income (income of the top 10% within the racial group) for Black Americans in 2016 was ~$60,000 while White American’s in their top tier made ~$120,000 and Asian Americans made ~$135,000. That means that the highest income tear in the Black American racial group makes HALF as much as the top tier in the White American racial group.

  • 12% of Black American college graduates in their 20s are employed (according to a 2013 study) which is more than double the rate of unemployment among college students of all races. This outlines a disparity in the employment market between different races with the same credentials.

Socioeconomic Status

  • The percentage of black people and Latinos in the US who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies is less than 5%. This means that in the United States, 95+% of CEOs of major companies are white.

  • College debt also shows disparities by racial groups. The average White American’s cumulative debt for a bachelor’s degree from 2015-2016 was ~$20,000 while the average Black American accumulated closer to $28,000 and the average Asian American cumulated ~$12,000.

  • African Americans are almost twice as likely as white Americans to be uninsured. This failure of medical access leads to serious underlying medical conditions – Black Americans have higher death rates and higher prevalence rates of chronic conditions.

COVID-19 Impact

  • Black Americans are disproportionately likely to be doing essential jobs such as food industry, health services, taxis, and other service jobs. During COVID, many people are having to choose between their health and their income. Due to the income disparities listed previously, Black Americans are more likely to need the jobs and to be in danger during the pandemic. This could be the cause for the rate of Black American deaths by COVID being 2.5 times larger than the rate of White Americans.

So What's the Point?

So what do all of these statistics mean? Basically, what’s being shown in this long list of percentages is that Black Americans, on average, make less money, work more dangerous jobs, work lower level jobs, have higher college debt, have and die from more chronic illnesses, and have less access to proper medical care than the white American population. These are all reasons that lead to the disparities of racial equality in America and, specifically, the disparities in the mental wellness of Black Americans.

Black Americans make less money which means they are less likely to be able to afford Mental Health care as some insurances don’t cover it and it can be very expensive.

Black Americans work lower level jobs and are less likely to have insurance which means that the price of Mental Health care is much more of a barrier for their racial group.

Black Americans have less access to health care which means they are less likely to even be referred to Mental Health care in the first place.

There is a disparity for Black Americans in America.


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