In fact, a recent Citigroup report estimated that racial discrimination has cost the American economy $16 trillion. Most notably, the report identifies a substantial $13 trillion loss in potential business revenue because of racial discrimination in lending to Black entrepreneurs and Black businesses. Although these figures are estimates for the last two decades, they point to a repeated pattern of costly preventable violence – financial and physical – against non-white people in America.
When a Black community in America is destroyed, America’s progress is destroyed.
For Black America, the economic losses are very direct. The wage gap, for example, puts the highest average earnings for Black men at more than $20,000 less than it is for white men.
But economic struggles in the Black community trickle down in ways that are less obvious, but certainly not less meaningful, to non-Black members of society. A close in the wealth gap over the past 20 years would have meant $2.7 trillion more spent on cars, clothes and other goods, services and investments that would have supported jobs for everyone.
Indeed, 100 years later, the story of the Tulsa massacre remains relevant for identifying racism’s true and lasting costs. The lessons and events of this horrific episode provide powerful insights into how acknowledging the effects, costs and destruction of systemic racism is key to healing and repairing the nation today.
Born of the ingenuity of Black migrants, Tulsa’s Greenwood community was a bustling and dynamic Black financial district in the heartland of the American Southwest. Before the massacre, that approximately 35-block Black Wall Street community was worth $1 million (the equivalent of $15 million today).