This is going to be an article riddled with violations of 'political correctness'. As a result, we have an opportunity to think about a subject in an informative and unique context, two characteristics that 'political correctness' preclude.
First, let us put the United States aside for a moment, and look at the recent Human Development Index map :
The first question we can ask is why Australia and New Zealand are wealthy, while Haiti and Liberia are among the world's poorest. All four are countries that are inhabited and governed by people who have been there for under 200 years. Let me also provide the disclaimer that the reason is not because of the skin color of the inhabitants of those countries.
So why is the outcome of the two populations of African origin so incredibly worse than that of the two populations of Anglo-Saxon Protestant origin?
One word : Culture.
Cultures of specific ethnic groups are formed over the the course of centuries, not just decades. The early inhabitants of Australia and New Zealand (and Canada) were already conditioned with centuries of Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture, wherein the necessary ingredients of democracy, industry, and rule of law were already internalized. Hence, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, despite being on separate paths for two centuries, still have produced remarkably similar outcomes. At the other end of the scale, Haiti gained independence in 1804, yet is still the only country in the Western Hemisphere with African levels of poverty - even Mexico is a paradise by comparison. Liberia is a country created for freed US slaves to return to in order to create a new home in Africa, with a constitution modeled off of the US constitution, and with ongoing benefits of US financial aid and mentorship. Nonetheless, Liberia is no more advanced that the traditional African countries that surround it. This leads to a conclusion that most sub-Saharan African cultures, over the course of centuries, never developed the intellectual or philosophical foundations of science, legal institutions, or productivity. Being separated from African society for two centuries is not sufficient to undo the millennia of anti-advancement conditioning that generations of people received in Africa, and hence the outcomes are still inevitably similar.
Ponder that for a moment, and then let us return to the United States.
Today, African-Americans in the United States have lower incomes than whites, even decades after the Civil Rights Movement and 140 years after the last slaves were freed. In 2006, average annual household income for whites is $49,000 while for African-Americans is just $30,134. It is true that institutionalized discrimination, segregation, and the forced separation of families are all sad chapters in the history of how African Americans were treated in the US. At the same time, they have received benefits like affirmative action, special scholarships, and other programs to help undo the damage previously inflicted upon them, and do have dominance in lucrative fields such as sports and music. The examples of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Haiti, Liberia, and Africa in general make it illogical to view the US as a microcosm, and the logical conclusion becomes that African-Americans still are within the partial clutches of African cultural traits that make economic advancement difficult. Centuries of life in the US have undone a portion of this, resulting in African Americans being far wealthier than blacks anywhere else in the world. However, it will still take a long time for them to fully gain economic parity with whites, in the US or in any other country in the world. The accelerating rate of change may help compress what would have previously taken centuries into mere decades, but the sheer enormity of the process of cultural transformation should not be underestimated.
Here is an article with more details on what cultural factors result in societal failure, and much of this can be seen in African societies.
Again, this has nothing to do with skin color, and there will be many individual exceptions to the majority. A black infant adopted by a Jewish or WASP family will achieve the same success as others of those groups, provided his childhood interactions are predominantly with others of his adoptive parents' ethnicity, rather than with poorer blacks.
Thus, the notion of 'racism' in the US is no longer an accurate one, and the concept of 'culturism' provides a better assessment of why income disparities exist between whites and blacks across and within dozens of nations today. The evidence is overwhelming, but discussion of culturism may also become a societal taboo.
But this concept is not complete without mention of the third type of culture that exists in the modern world : the Wheelbarrow cultures.
When using a wheelbarrow, a person can move greater weight than without the wheelbarrow. But when the person stops pushing it, the wheelbarrow cannot move at all. If a person were analogous to a wheelbarrow, such a person would be capable of greatness if guided by the right people, but would achieve nothing without such mentorship. This characteristic can even be seen in entire cultures.
India and China are countries that as recently as the 1970s, were just as poor as most African nations. At the same time, Indians and Chinese are the two wealthiest ethnic groups in the US, with an average educational level and household income substantially higher (greater than 1.5X) than that of whites. This is also true of Indian and Chinese communities in Britain and Australia. Even after adjusting for educational levels, the natural question arises about why India and China themselves are so poor despite the remarkable consistency with which their emigrants outperform the members of their new host countries.
It appears that Indians and Chinese often succeed in corelation to the quality of their surroundings. Speaking from direct experience, Indians tend to be people who are driven to do well when they feel they are guests in another country, and greatly fear the prospect of appearing unimpressive to non-Indians. The subconscious need to gain the approval of white people is very important to many Indians, and I suspect the same is true for many Chinese. When Indians are in India, on the other hand, they often default back to unsophisticated and unproductive habits, often with little interest in self-improvement or the betterment of Indian society. Leading Indian entrepreneur Kanwal Rekhi once said, "Indians are a first-rate people in a third-rate country. We compete with the best and brightest everywhere, but fail collectively."
Other examples abound. Countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore speeded ahead of the PRC in economic growth, despite having the same Han Chinese population, due to each having active American/British economic mentorship. The same can even be observed in North and South Korea, where the economic disparity between the two can be described as one group of wheelbarrows being successfully pushed by the US while the other got no suitable mentorship, and thus remains Communist (a byproduct of wheelbarrows not being pushed by the right people).
This, therefore, brings us to the final concept of this treatise, which is the "Double Wheelbarrow Effect".
For a society with untapped wheelbarrow potential to achieve prosperity within the confines of its own culture, it becomes necessary to see examples of members of their culture doing well en masse. This permits traditional inferiority complexes vis-a-vis whites to vanish and permit previously disenfranchised people to gather the courage to ask "Why not us?". The prosperity of the first few wheelbarrows can then be multiplied. This can also be called 'globalization'.
Taiwan and Hong Kong were extremely poor in the 1950s, but rapid wheelbarrow-driven growth leading to prosperity by the 1980s, combined with the Chinese-American community in the US reaching critical mass around the same time, created an army of ethnic Chinese with the knowledge and skills to rapidly expand business ties with the PRC. So the former wheelbarrows themselves are now enabling mainland Chinese to achieve their full wheelbarrow potential. Hence, the rapid growth of the PRC became possible when it did, and the double-wheelbarrow growth is going strong even after 20 years.
India, unlike China, does not have the equivalent of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore where the wheelbarrow effect could begin 20 years prior due to Chinese seeing other Chinese attaining wealth, so India had to wait for the Indian community in the US (and to a lesser degree in the UK) to achieve critical mass and visible wheelbarrow maturity. This did not happen until the 2000s, and so the Double Wheelbarrow Effect could not benefit India until recently. Now, India is finally growing rapidly as US corporations open divisions in India and teach Indian workers about American corporate practices, which long ago had origins in Anglo-Protestant value systems. This Double Wheelbarrow education results in India being widely discussed in business magazines that just 10 years ago scarcely found any reasons to mention India.
In other words :
Step 1 : Indian engineer comes to US in late 1960s/1970s, gets job, feels xenophobic, but does well in career. Bonds with other Indians he would normally not be friends with in India.
Step 2 : He and his friends rise to senior management or start companies, and by the 2000s, are multimillionaires.
Step 3 : He helps his company start divisions in India, teaching Indians how productive businesses are run in America, what habits are good to develop and what traditional Indian practices should be jettisoned in the interest of producing something of value. He meanwhile teaches white American colleagues how many opportunities exist by using what India has to offer and persuades them to invest further.
Thus, the Double Wheelbarrow Effect is what is responsible for the rise of China starting in the 1980s and India starting in the 2000s. The conventional wisdom credits China's 1979 reforms and India's 1991 reforms, but those merely represent the locks being taken off the wheelbarrows. The actual pushing could only have happened when it did, not sooner, due to the need of the first diaspora wheelbarrows to achieve critical mass. But now, the double wheelbarrow tide is so strong that India and China are even devising ambitious space programs.
I'm going to give this subject a bit more thought and make some tweaks to the article (I, too, am a wheelbarrow). There is more to be done on this subject.