Welcome to America, where Black Americans are more
likely to be under-educated, unemployed and imprisoned than their White peers;
where Black Americans, in general, have significantly less wealth, dramatically
lower-quality housing, much poorer nutrition and sub-standard medical care. This
is an America where Black people remain relatively silent while these conditions and a raging
economic genocide, eliminates them, their children and their grandchildren from
ever participating in the American mainstream!
Recent economic, wealth and
employment reports confirm what much of Black America already knows: We are in
serious TROUBLE and multitudes of Black people exist in deep poverty. Many Black
people in America are not just poor by American standards; many of us are
third-world poor. Black Americans are in an economic free-fall with no fiscal
backstop. Many Black Americans will live their entire lives without ever having
a positive net worth. Most Black people today who work are like "sharecroppers",
men and families who did most or all of the work on a farm, but seldom earned
enough to pay their debts and never owned anything of value.
While many economists praise the
American economy with talk of low unemployment, record-housing starts and a
booming GNP (gross national product), none of this tells the real story of the
devastated Black economy within America. Recent data from the Pew Research
Center shows the median wealth of Black households dropped an astonishing 34
percent from 2010 to 2013 while that of White households grew, albeit slightly,
over that same period.
Pew's research shows that when
automobiles and other durable goods are included, the net worth of White
families was $141,900 in 2013 while the net worth of Black families that year
fell to $11,000, down from $19,000 in 2007. This means that two years ago White
families had 13 times the wealth of Black families in America, a 24-year high
for the wealth gap.
But it gets much worse! When you
remove vehicles and other durables from the equation, according to New York
University economist Edward Wolff, the median Black family worth is just $1,700
(while 40 percent of Black families have zero or negative wealth). The median
White family worth (without durable goods) is roughly 69 times more than that of
Black families, or about $116,800.
And worst of all, the sad reality
is that liquid wealth is largely non-existent within Black families. Liquid
wealth is the money used to pay bills, buy food, pay the rent and cover
emergency situations. In 2011, the Center for Global Policy Solutions in a
report entitled Beyond Broke, showed the median liquid wealth of Black
Americans as only $200, compared to $23,000 held by Whites.
More than $100 billion might have
been extracted from Black American communities during the recent recession
according to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, Foreclosures by
Race and Ethnicity. That money left the bank accounts, housing accounts,
investment accounts and pockets of Black people and went somewhere else. While
few people are searching for where that $100 billion went, it is almost certain
that it will never come back to those Black families. This economic carnage of
the Black American economy constitutes a kind of "financial rape" of the African
American community, similar to the devastating effects of colonization on the
African continent. Black Americans might never recover. Never!
Higher education, once the
reliable key to moving from low-income to middle-income status, is no longer an
option. The portals that lead away from poverty, crime and despair have closed
tight. Generational poverty is inextricably intertwined with race. Hope for
breaking the poverty cycle diminishes as generations of Black children are born
into inescapable poverty. Many more Blacks in America are slipping into a
third-world status-from poverty to deep poverty.
Black America cannot wait for the
government, foundations and universities to save us. Annually, Black Americans
generate about $1 trillion within the U.S. economy. We must take control of our
financial resources and improve Black personal finances, our family wealth and
our communities' economies. Although life might be good economically in America,
the majority of Black Americans are living through the worst economic conditions
in modern history!
TEN KEY SOLUTIONS FOR BLACK ECONOMIC
1. Start your own
business. By starting your own business, you can hire family, friends and
community members. 2. Get as much formal education as you
can. It usually translates into higher income. 3. Stop
renting an apartment. Save enough money to make a down payment on a house. Then
buy a house. 4. Get married! Two-person-headed households
are more viable economically. Marriage can be an economic advantage when both
parties are aligned on financial priorities and share similar fiscal
5. Open savings accounts
for your children, teach your children the value of money and have them take
personal finance classes. 6. First, invest your money and
your time in your skills, your knowledge base and your self-improvement. Second,
learn how to let big companies work for you rather than you only working for
them through stock ownership. And third, invest your money in the U.S. and other
global stock markets. 7. Manage your credit carefully and
avoid unnecessary debt. 8. Create a living strategy that
includes good nutrition, plenty of exercise and proper rest so that you might
live a long and healthy life. Health is wealth! 9.
Contribute to your faith-based institution and invest in a social organization
or social cause. 10. Create a will or trust to pass on your
Phillip Jackson is
founder and executive director of The Black Star Project in Chicago. You may
reach him at 773.285.9600.