A lot of white people in America who don’t support progressive taxes, and don’t support various ways government can redistribute wealth point to one thing: they have earned what is theirs. When we talk about reparations— they didn’t own slaves.

How many of them know the history of their wealth?

This story about two Baltimore neighborhoods is just one small example of how explicit government policy and action created and sustained a racial wealth divide just a generation or two ago.

Because I grew up in the New York City tri-state area, I frequently heard from people whose families, like mine, emigrated to the US with little, long after slavery. These immigrants and their descendants made clear that because they didn’t participate in slavery or the Jim Crow South and they came to the US with little, they had no reason to have to pay taxes that supported black people in America to correct for our original sin. It seemed preposterously unfair.

They were and are blind to the ways their own family wealth in America was created and supported through explicitly racist policy programs that lead to affordable home ownership for their families. They have benefited from white supremacy all the same.