All But Three of America’s 185 Wealthiest Families Have One Striking Thing in Common

July 20, 2014 12:10 pm 32 comments Views: 19206

Forbes magazine has compiled “the first comprehensive ranking of the richest families in America,” featuring 185 clans with fortunes of at least $1 billion:

Image Credit: Forbes

The families’ assets stem from a wide range of pursuits, from oil and banking to soup, plumbing and cleaning products. Yet all except three — the Chao family, the Elghanayans and the Unanues — are Caucasian, proving that even in 2014, “American wealth” remains largely a euphemism for “white wealth.”

Background: In his 2004 comedy special Never Scared, Chris Rock dissects the racial politics behind this phenomenon. “I’m not talking about ‘rich,'” he says, “I’m talking about ‘wealth’… Here’s the difference: Shaq is rich. The white man who signs his check is wealthy.”

But the disparity isn’t just measured in dollars and cents. According to Investopedia, wealth includes the “total market value of all [one’s] physical and intangible assets,” thus painting a broader picture of a family’s overall income, holdings and investment options.

The numbers: The rift between black and white assets remains a key factor in maintaining racial inequality today and it’s only gotten worse in the past 10 years:

Image Credit: Washington Post

Despite steadily rising income levels over the past half century, black families remain just as poor relative to whites as they were in the 1960s:

Image Credit: Washington Post

But: The New York Times reports that the wealth gap is even “more pernicious” than the income gap because it persists across generations and puts young people of color in an especially disadvantaged position for building future wealth. According to Pew Research Center, 2009 saw the most lopsided racial wealth ratios since the government started compiling data in the mid-1980s.

Image Credit: Pew Research Center

That year, white median household wealth stood at 19 times that of black families and 15 times that of Hispanics. The Great Recession also had a disproportionate impact on minority holdings: Hispanic median household wealth fell 66% between 2005 and 2009, compared to a 53% fall for black households and just16% for white households.

Image Credit: Pew Research Center

Why? A variety of factors contribute to the tenuous nature of minority assets: For one, housing effects account for 49% of black wealth compared to 28% of white wealth — a double-edged sword considering that black-owned homes appreciate in value at much lower rates than white-owned homes. This is largely due to residential segregation, which artificially lowers demand and places a “forced ceiling on home equity for African-Americans who own homes in non-white neighborhoods.” Not to mention that wealth built on home ownership is especially vulnerable during housing crises, like the one that took hold during the recession.

Put simply, this wealth gap has defined American economics for many years, and is rooted in the same racial inequalities that helped impoverish minority families to begin with.

Meanwhile, the (white) rich get richer: The Waltons of Walmart top the Forbes list with a cumulative $152 billion in assets. The Kochs, Mars’, Cargill-MacMillans and (Edward) Johnsons round out the top five, with the Hearst family coming in sixth with a net worth of $35 billion. All told, the 185 families listed, from the two Newhouse brothers to the 255-member Haas clan, control a combined $1.2 trillion: roughly equal to the GDP of the state of New York.

The three families of color listed are of Taiwanese, Iranian and Hispanic descent, respectively. As far as bolstering these numbers, time will tell whether more of today’s billionaires of color translate their individual riches into sustained family wealth through future generations. For now, maybe Chris Rock said it best:

“If Bill Gates woke up tomorrow with Oprah’s money, he’d jump out [of] a fucking window.”

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  • Bill

    ALL Races are not equal No one has a problem with Blacks dominating Basketball White people are just better at making money. Get over it and accept it and maybe try to ;lean from it. There is no Law in the world that will make me a good basketball player . But I could get better if I played with men much better than me and took their advice .
    Perhaps that is what we should be doing with these white Guys to level the playing field instead of claiming life is not fair and all your victim dis-empowering Race baiting.. The sooner the world accepts the world is not fair the sooner we can begin to empower people to take on the challenge. Trust themselves to make a better world for themselves. Rich White people and I think I can speak for them I was raised in a very wealthy White Family understand that its what goes on in your head that determines your outcome.. Not your skin color or your place in Life.

    • Renaud_B

      I couldn’t care less if it’s white, black or chinese who have more money. Doesn’t affect ME. Only times I’m concerned about other people’s money is when they don’t have enough to eat… that’s the only time we all should be concerned about what’s on other people’s pockets.
      I don’t like the idea that people are unable to grow economically, because a few people have too much money… why would affect me if 1% have big mantions? I haven’t even finished highschool, but I learned web design online in like a year and started working. I’m learning programming and currently working on personal projects that will give me nice profit.
      Internet alone, is within reach to almost anyone, it opens numerous doors to progress in life.
      Yet people just sit all their life to complain the world isn’t magically built to fit all their needs… no one’s responsible for their actions anymore, “the system” is to blame. The system made them have 5 kids and forced them not to study anything, and make a career out of entry level jobs.
      And I’m not white by the way, I’m Hispanic.

    • spam spamovic

      That is b/s bill. If you are discriminated based on your skin color, then there just may be a limit to what you can achieve in that society…

      • Tijuana Gold

        Not necessarily!
        A racial group, for instance, can be turned into a market. I think blacks are the 11th largest economy in the world, that’s a lot of moolah. Blacks are always complaining that the black population is underserved Fill that need. Charge money for doing that. Get rich.
        Look up. Not down.
        I did this with a B-B business in the late 70’s. Retired in ’87. No one else was servicing the area. Got all the business.
        Stop believing the defeatist propaganda what leftist will tell you. They do it to make you their slave.

  • Beyer

    White people preferrably in America have acquired wealth during periods of goldrush and when America was a place for everyone. Today this people are reinvesting their inherited wealth. It is just people who have and people who don’t. Those who don’t today work hard to have less than they used to. Do not dissilusion people from other races that they have possiblity if they work hard. Skin color determines much more, as well as a rich spouse.

    • Renaud_B

      They put their money to work. That means they invest in things… people like to think its magic, it’s not. Without that, what you get are countries like Cuba, North Korea, etc. China learned their lesson, their economy is booming, and in turn it’ll make them progress socially, it’ll improve their human rights, and people’s freedom.
      People putting their money on investments, moves the world, they’re helping other people, creating jobs, researching, helping economy, it’s a good exchange. Granted if you have more money you have more investment options, but it’s not a bad thing. People who do not invest, lose their fortune, and this happens every day… people win the lottery and lose it within a lifetime.
      Plus money it’s relative, it’s not real, it’s psychological. Someone poor today has more comforts than someone rich 200 years ago, who died of deceases, travelling took ages, heck they didn’t even have toilet paper.
      But it’s human nature to compare, envy and compete, feel sad about other people’s happiness, human is still primitive. Money is just a number in a bank account, a private beach is no different than a public beach, it’s only psychological. Money isn’t worth anything in the desert. I think people who concern this much about rich people are fools.
      I do not concern about people who are sad because they don’t have luxuries they wish they had, I only concern about people who do not have enough to eat.

  • ANGELA WOOLSEY

    So fucking what?! They worked for it. Why is it a crime to be white and wealthy? go fuck yourself….all this is another way to make blacks hate whites. I put a hex on all of you so called journalists that consistently incite racial discourse. Why don’t you write some real news, like how middle-class americans feel about now having to pay for college tuition for f d and c students??, especially since they have worked hard to help create studious children themselves who, because we work for a living, would never qualify for help even though our kids have 4.0 gpa’s. go to hell and a ‘POX” on you and your ilk!

    • QV3

      Because Whites have an established track record of slavery, insatiable greed, colonisation . That’s how Americans became wealthy. On the backs of black slavery. Shame on you.

      • Tijuana Gold

        Blacks, as well as most races of men, have a record of slavery and insatiable greed. White people are no different. To say whites are more inclined to those faults, is racist on the face of it. After all it was black people who sold us, black people.
        The real deal is the professional racists Jackson, Sharpton et al. Keep poor suckers like QV3 in pain and bent all out of shape so they can use these people as fools to line their pockets. Meanwhile, the black man just keeps falling and falling back.
        Fools always thinking they are getting something 4 nothing. Reparations my big butt.
        Shame on you!

        • QV3

          SHAME ON YOU. GENERATIONAL PARASITE.
          LIVING ON STOLEN LAND. BEGONE. SCUM.
          CAN’T ADMIT BLACK SLAVERY MADE YOU SCUMS WEALTHY AND TODAY’S LAYABOUTS. HIGH ON DRUGS. GO BACK TO YOUR COMATOSE SLEEP. IDIOT.

          • Tijuana Gold

            Ahh, QV3, you butt hurt? :), so typical of your kind. However, I forgive your lack of control and emotionalism, I know you can’t help yourself. It explains your lack of cognitive skills.
            First, American blacks are some of the richest people in the world as well as caucasian Americans, so stop being intentionally stupid. White people made black people rich in this country. So shut up. Dummy
            You don’t want to live anywhere else.You’re living on the same land as I am. Hypocrite.
            Enjoy the benefits the “white man’s” civilization, then bite the hand that feeds you. Punk.
            That’s why black Americans don’t move back to Africa – it run by black people and it sucks.
            “We” didn’t steal this country. Legally, stealing is theft without force. “Whites” conquered stone age aborigines “hunter-gatherers for the most part” by force – that would be robbery, the point is “what are you going to do about it”? Whine?
            Or burn down your own neighborhood?

          • QV3

            Tijuan stupid. Enjoy the Race War that will soon visit you, which is inevitable.
            I DO NOT LIVE IN AMERICA.
            YOULIVE ON STOLEN LAND. SHAMELESS VERMIN.

          • Tijuana Gold

            You are butt hurt 🙂 Ahhh….

          • QV3

            AND YOU ARE A LOSER. LOSER. LOSER. LOST YOUR COUNTRY. HAHAHAHAHA. CRAVEN CRETIN.

          • Tijuana Gold

            Ur funny 🙂

          • QV3

            And you are lobotomised. now go back to your comastose sleep. Goodbye. You ARE boring!

          • Tijuana Gold

            Ha Ha !

  • ANGELA WOOLSEY

    why don’t you post this, coward

  • ANGELA WOOLSEY

    you can put anything on as long as it makes white people look bad.

  • JohnLobo

    Pathetic. Lots of pretty graphs to show how mean whites are to non-whites, thus fuelling the self-perpetuating culture of victimhood. I mean, seriously, is this sort of thing going to help blacks and hispanics?
    In any case, there is more and more empirical evidence being gathered that indicates that success, and therefore wealth, is linked to intelligence.
    In virtually all surveys of intelligence Asians, particularly, Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans, top the list. Now check Figure 1, Real Median Household Incomes, and Asians are consistently and significantly ahead of everyone else.
    What does Chris Rock have to say about that?

  • ahmed nazmy habel

    all love all smiles

  • Cric Cricus

    Property is the memory of the social creativity of subjects. The more civilized and educated communities normally contribute more to the social productivity, so all are well explained, even in the Asian case, when new democratized of ancient educated societies reveals new prosperity.

  • ..

    did it occur to you that this happened as wealth takes a few generations and political connections to amass and that the racial lines existed 50 or 100 years before and hence you see this now. Now that in US colour isn’t what it was some 30 or 40 years later you will see new black or coloured challengers to the top end of the wealthy. I am sure of it. So stop thinking whites still corner the wealth. They just had a long head start yes. Now they all have an open run and the advantage to the white would get diluted over the coming years. This is why they say Statistics can lie. If you don’t have the context to interpret it properly you can make it tell the story you want or misread it.

  • No one can know for certain who would have more money in the absence of government favoritism.
    What we do know for certain is that the government favors white European American kleptocrats George W. Bush and Dick Cheney over ordinary African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.
    The first thing ordinary African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans must realize is, social welfare chump change notwithstanding, the US government is not on your side, and never will be.

    • Graham

      Umm… you didn’t notice the median household income is topped by Asians–higher than whites?

      • Of course. Who doesn’t know that?
        But who’s talking about middle income people? They’re part of the 99%
        I was talking about the 1%, the Anglo-American banksters and transnational corporate heads who own billions, even trillions.

  • Rosa Krause

    There is a saying “Money calls money”.

    It means that the more money you have, the easier to make your wealth grow.

    Look back at Rockefeller, he could buld an Oil Christian Empire because he had money to buy oil-rich lands at bargain prices because he had already some money to do it.

    The shareholders of the corporations that fund political campaigns earn many more times per $ than common people donors for their corporations are granted contracts or privileged information.

    At this point, corruption is just a tool to multiply money, and it only works for wealth people.

    Manipulation of markets and stocks render lots of money.

    Enron, Halliburton, Wall Street Banksters…

    Finally, as stated in the article, wealth people are capable of making decisions that affect other people assets like direction of public investment in certain neighborhoods that automatically raise the value of properties in it.

  • Benny Youngblood

    That’s 3 more than you have caucasians on the list in most Asian countries, or for that matter African, Asian, Middle-Eastern or Latin American Countries. There would not be one caucasian on their list. There would not be one caucasian in the list of top wealthiest in most African, Asian, Middle-Eastern or Latin American countries. But no one is talking about that???

  • Marie Antoinette

    Whats happening is, in terms of ownership, there is a global oligopoly that is concentrated in a few hands. These work together and speculate against local interest. This results in over dependence of the average person, and an aid economy. For which their response is “charity”.

    This is a system that is driving things down and eroding things because control is in the wrong place. Whether this is a result of a deliberate attempt or incompetency or a mix of both, doesnt matter.

    I don’t see how these people will stop doing what they are doing since they are like this for one reason or another.

    So on an practical level, any individual wanted to grab more control of their life in order to stop the downward spiral imposed on us by this system will have to do it by themselves and by forming smaller independent communities.

    Most states and most “rich people” will not help in this process, in fact they will act as a barrier.

    Many have not even noticed what they are doing and that there is a problem. Let alone feeling the need/being able to resolve it.

  • Its sad that in this day and age is still a white mans world

    • QV3

      Not for long.

      • Tijuana Gold

        Ha!