“You can’t have capitalism without racism” (Malcolm X)
The neoliberal debt system increases inequality by moving financial resources toward the top.
Vaguely liberal ideals of freedom manifest as the belief that opportunities should be equal, but not intentionally expanded, tying right into the idea that things are just the way they are. The “it is what it is” approach lends to beliefs that poverty is cultural, and if people changed their habits they would advance. And, of course, this goes hand in hand with the idea that blacks do not experience discrimination, a belief with which 83% of whites agree. According to Bonilla-Silva “together these frames form an impregnable yet elastic wall that barricades whites from the United States’ racial reality.’
50 years after Civil Rights, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and during the first black presidency, white Americans currently hold at least 19 times the wealth of African-Americans (Kochhar 2010: 3). Put into perspective, in 1984 the ratio was 12 to 1, dipping to 7 to 1 in 1995, jumping to an astonishing 19 to 1 in 2009, and is probably even greater now.
We don’t often talk about how the neoliberal construct of perpetual indebtedness to non-human financial entities has created a populous so focused on debts “owed” to Wall Street that we have no collective memory of any other kinds of debts. This process would be visible if it were not for the invisibility of race and the ideologies of colorblindness that accomplish that invisibility.