In a May YouGov poll, only 14 percent of Republicans deemed past discrimination a “major factor” in lower average wealth levels among blacks. (Aggressive impediments to wealth creation were a major theme of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay that same month.) Only 8 percent of Republicans agreed that discrimination “in getting a quality education” is currently a problem for blacks.
Consider that. In a nation where even middle-class wealth is often inherited, and the fortunes of Rockefellers, Fords, Kennedys and Mellons are famously known to endure through generations, 45 percent of Republicans said that 250 years of enslavement followed by more than a century of legally and socially enforced economic and political disenfranchisement are simply “not a factor” impeding black wealth creation. Another 35 percent of Republicans polled said that the history of discrimination was only a “minor factor.” So 350 years of official discrimination followed by decades of diminishing, but still discernible, racism produced no great economic ills.
You can impose all the caveats on this you like. Blacks, too, possess varying degrees of racial animus. And liberals, of course, have their own blinders, delusions and prejudices. But a belief that white advantage in American society — including a median household wealth gap of around 20-to-1 between whites and blacks — is exclusively a product of the character failings of blacks is a kind of lunacy.