The TIE Podcast Summer Session: A Conversation with Steven S. Rogers

The TIE Podcast “Summer Session” debuted today. In this episode, TIE’s editor in chief Alexia Hudson-Ward speaks with Steven S. Rogers, retired MBA Class of 1957 Senior Lecturer in General Management at Harvard Business School and author of the new book A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community.

The episode features a compelling series of questions for Steven, whose responses are delivered with the urgency and depth we need to hear. Leading with a question on why it is important for Black Americans to receive reparations from the US government, Alexia then asks Steven to describe the disparities in net worth between white and Black America, why it is important that we remain accountable and responsible today for history’s failings, and teaching “financial apartheid” as part of the undergraduate financial literacy curriculum. Tough questions, incredibly direct and thought-provoking answers—this is a must-hear episode.

Here’s a quick peek into the episode:

On reparations:

It is my position that the only way that Black people can catch up is by the federal government actually giving reparations to Blacks. I believe that over 50 percent of the Black problems or the problems between Blacks and whites today—the foundation of those problems is this wealth disparity. And the wealth disparity was created by the federal government and, in fact, the federal government … did a phenomenal job … in creating this wealth disparity with the redlining, the Black codes, and then 246 years of slavery.

On the disparity between white and Black net worth:

The average net worth of a white family in America is $170,000 compared to a mere $17,000 for Blacks. So, the white net worth is 10 times greater than the Black net worth. Which means, when we talk about the net worth, is assets minus any kind of liabilities gives you your net worth. So, whites have all of this money, capital, and assets available to live a different quality kind of life than Blacks do … With wealth comes better healthcare [and] lower crime. If the symptoms of poverty are all the negative things we see that are synonymous with the Black community—we’re not a bad community, we just are a poor community.

On white accountability and responsibility today:

With the beauty of America comes this: You cannot have a mindset that this is a cafeteria-style country that we have. And you will only select to be the beneficiary of the good things that happened in America, but you want nothing to do with the bad things that happened to America. That’s just not fair, it’s not practical, and it just does not fit with how we are to become a better country if we’re ever to address this problem that we have—and that is this wealth disparity.

There is much more to hear. As Alexia says early in the episode: “True to the tradition that we’re trying to establish with the Summer Session, you are really taking us to school!”

The ongoing TIE Podcast series will feature provocative, in-depth conversations with important figures in the higher education community to help administrators and academic leaders understand racism from new perspectives and to promote racial justice on their campuses.

Listen to the full conversation below:

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Header image is a detail of This is Harlem by Jacob Lawrence. Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. © 2021 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. For more information, click here.