How The Controversial GI Bill Limited Black Generational Wealth

Black Soldier Applying For GI Bill Benefits/Unknown/U.S. Airforce/CC0

January 5, 2018

Our history in this country from slavery to Jim Crow to the Rockefeller Drug Laws has proven that policies intended for “good” have worked against us!

When soldiers returned from World War II, Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 -- also known as the G.I. Bill. The sophisticated bill had some wonderful components, granting veterans tuition-free college education, one year’s worth of unemployment, low-interest business loans, and the chance to purchase a home.

While Black veterans could, thankfully, take advantage of the college education offered in the bill, most were excluded from purchasing a house. Many banks refused to issue loans in Black neighborhoods, and all-white suburbs didn’t welcome them. With nobody reinforcing the rights of Black veterans, this would-be fruitful perk fell to the wayside.

As years passed, home purchases proved profitable for white veterans, helping them establish massive generational wealth for their families.

Just think what could’ve happened had we been granted the full benefits. Many Black families continue to teeter the line between barely-making-it and stabilized. Often, we’re left robbing Peter to pay Paul. According to the U.S. Poverty Statistics Report, in 2016, 23% of Black Americans were still living in poverty.

As you can see, racist policies can have a lasting impact. From now on, with our greater collective voice and representation, we must pay close attention to the policies being presented to ensure our fair shake. It could make a difference for generations to come.

To learn more about the participation of U.S. Black soldiers in recent wars check out We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans From World War II to the War in Iraq.

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