Voices Rising: African American Economic Security in King County is a collaborative project of the Seattle Community of Practice – African American Financial Capability Initiative, which includes Byrd Barr Place, Africatown, Seattle King County NAACP, Skyway Solutions, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and Washington State Commission on African American Affairs.
The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and implicit bias are still very much present today and can be seen in the growing racial wealth gap, nationally and locally. Voices Rising explores the contributing factors behind this wealth gap in Seattle and King County. Locally, intense and rapid gentrification has affected the ability to purchase a home, creating a significant “loss of place” for the African American community. This, coupled with unequal education opportunities, as well as a lack of political and social organizing coordination, leaves the Black community at a loss.
To better understand just how deep our country’s racial wealth gap goes, consider this: If average Black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take Black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth that white families enjoy. That’s just 17 years shorter than the 245-year span of slavery in the U.S.
In Voices Rising, we aim to not only better understand the racial wealth gap, but also put a face to the Black community in Seattle and King County. Through interviews, focus groups, and surveys, we gathered stories of African Americans who live, work, and make a home in this city and the surrounding area.
If we’re to close the racial wealth gap in King County and beyond, we need to be intentional and directed in our approach. We must work together to pursue:
- Policy change that addresses the implicit bias in our education, economic, and other systems and allows everyone to share the “ladder of opportunity.”
- A comprehensive approach to break the cycle of systemic barriers—in housing, education, living- wage job opportunities, and so on.
- Focused attention on African American wealth building and creating opportunities that connect African Americans to the supports they need.
- Tackling the education and community center issues that result from gentrification.
- Investment in an equitable education system that provides quality experiences for African American children and engages parents.
- Support for African American community organizing to come together around a unified agenda.