On Tuesday, Feb. 20, Boston College welcomed Chuck Collins, scholar, author and inequality expert, to discuss the ever-growing inequality gap in America as well as his book, “Born on Third Base.”
Collins’ talk centered around his experiences dealing with America’s most marginalized communities and how he reconciled his upbringing in the privileged “one percent.” Growing up in the wealthy neighborhood of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Collins recounted how he lived “in a bubble,” unaware of the vast privileges he was afforded through his family’s financial success.
At 26, endowed with a large trust fund from his family, Collins chose to give away all his inheritance money. Collins sought to “be like 99 percent of other people,” who weren’t afforded the same amount as wealth as him.
Collins has spent his professional career combating inequality. He has worked at various organizations throughout Massachusetts such as the Institute for Community Economics, the HOME Coalition, and what was formerly called the Tax Equity Alliance. He is the founder of United for a Fair Economy in Boston, an organization dedicated to educating people about growing income and wealth inequality. He is currently a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good.
Having worked for years helping trailer park tenants co-op the land their homes stood on, Collins recounted first-hand the struggles of the poor and the inequality issues that millions of Americans face. Through this lens, Collins saw how many people have little to no savings and little financial stability throughout the U.S.
Collins asserted that the “richest 100 households in the U.S. have as much wealth as the entire population of African Americans, totaling 14 million.” He underscored how the growing inequality gap serves to undermine social mobility and “if you’re not born within the top 1/5 of the populations, you will have a very slim chance at the American Dream.”
For solutions, Collins called for the wealthy “to come home,” his notion that people must commit to their communities and endeavor to give back to them. For Collins, the growing privilege of America’s “one percent” is “a disconnection drug” that keeps people from facing the problems of greater inequalities.