AN AGENDA FOR BLACK WOMEN AND WEALTH AND THE ECONOMY
Slavery did a terrible psychological, political, and socioeconomic injustice to people of African descent throughout the United States of America and worldwide. Blacks were not able to earn an income, because they were property. Many of the monetary effects are still being experienced today. Those injustices were reinforced by housing discrimination practices such as redlining and racial steering. Those practices devalued many black neighborhoods and their most lucrative assets, their homes; compared to white counterparts.
Furthermore, public policies have historically oppressed African Americans while systematically assuring that whites would flourish. Although “separate, but equal” was stamped out by Brown v. the Board of Education Topeka, Kansas, we still live in a nation that remains separate and unequal for people of color. It is evermore present in the growth of the income gap between the top one percent and everyone else. Currently, the top one percent holds ninety percent of America’s wealth. That was not the case in the 1960s, 1970s, or the 1980s. Something changed while minority communities were sleeping and locked out of the system. Political rhetoric did not meet reality. Elected officials did not fully implement the promises of the New Deal programs, which were not designed for blacks. In addition, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or other Great Society programs purpose was to calm the uprisings of the Civil Rights Movement not necessarily for economic advancement of minorities. Employment discrimination has been an unending overarching narrative in our struggle for economic opportunity. Whether black Americans want to admit it or not, we lose ground in education and earnings under President Barack Obama.
With all this combined, African Americans can break through the economic glass ceiling. Our history dates back to Mansa Musa returning from his hajj in Mecca with a net worth equivalent to four hundred billion dollars, Folrunsho Alakija, Nigerian oil and fashion tycoon; has a net worth of two billion dollars, Aliko Dangote, Nigerian trader and manufacturing expert; net worth of over twelve billion. Oprah Winfrey, American media proprietor and television show host, has a net worth of over three billion. Robert Smith, investment banker and founder of a private equity firm, has a net worth of over four billion. These individuals are living proof that blacks can shatter the historical and racial barriers to wealth creation.
Our current situation does not determine our final destination. It is going to take a serious and concerted force to pull blacks out of this economic condition. The message of wealth accumulation is going to have to be taught by parents and in the pulpit, in schools and in the streets, and from womb to tomb. This message must convict our conscience.
We must be taught and retaught about the importance of credit and lending. We must reduce the fears and dispel the myths stated about credit. Credit is a good thing. Some economist express credit is more valuable that actual currency. When establishing credit, interest rates will be high, because of the risks associated with extending a loan. Over time and with positive payment history, it will improve.
The working poor and members of the middle class are the chief spenders and lenders in the United States of America but have the least amount of economic power! Our community has the least amount of disposable income and emergency reserves. We must reduce frivolous spending. This is difficult to tackle because we have been bitten by the bug of consumerism. Consumers have the capability to spend money every day! We may need to take drastic measures as a one year no spending challenge. We may purchase only the goods or services that we need (i.e., food, housing, utilities, and transportation). There may be pain and anxiety experienced initially not spending money. We will have difficult wearing the same clothes over and over, expending all food in the house before buying more groceries, and simply not looking for things to purchase (including online). In turn, we ought to deposit the money in a savings account or invested it in other high yield financial products. America does not feel an economy threat posed by members of our community. It is expected for our approximate one and a half trillion dollars to be circulated.
We live in a nation that is so driven by consumption that is overtakes our psyche. We must reel it in and place stronger financial legs underneath us. According to Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney in a report titled, “The Economic State of the Black Community in America,” black women earned 61 cents for every dollar earned by white men in 2017, worsening from 63 cents in 2016 (Maloney, 2017). In the areas of economic mobility and wealth, she expressed, “Black children experience far less upward mobility than white children,” and “Black families’ wealth is significantly lower than that of white families” (Maloney, 2017).
For every one hundred black children who grow up in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, less than three will make it to the top fifth as adults. White children are more than four times as likely to move from the bottom to the top fifth.
Black children are more downwardly mobile—less than one in 10 black children growing up at the top will stay there as adults, compared to one in six white children.
In 2017, nearly one-third of black children grew up in poverty, compared to slightly more than one in 10 white children.
Children growing up in poverty tend to experience worse health, education, and economic outcomes than other children.
Only one in five black Americans had a bachelor’s degree, compared to over one in three white Americans in 2017.
The median net worth for white families is nearly 10 times greater than for black families.
Slightly over one-third of black families have retirement accounts, compared to 60 percent of white families. Those with savings hold a median value of $24,600, a third of that for white families.
Less than half of black families own their own homes, compared to almost three-quarters of white families.
Home equity makes up a larger proportion of household net worth for black families (Maloney, 2017).
We have to do more for the senior population. We propose a number of solutions to advance the cause of the most vulnerable by (Senior Citizens League, 2019):
Our eldresses need an increase in cost-of-living adjustments.
They should be aligned with an inflation index, which include healthcare and housing expenses.
Expand Social Security benefits for individuals born between 1917 and 1926; as well as provide a settlement payment
Strengthen Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage (Kavedzija, 2018)
Develop a sustainable national late life care plan and social care system that mimics other highly industrialized nations (Kavedzija, 2018)
We must speak truth to power and pressure elected officials to expand access to home ownership, boost profit sharing to employees, grow the social safety net for the poor, seniors, and vulnerable families, and increase local, state, and federal funding for African American businesses.
We shall overcome economic disparities. It can be done by investing in one another, buying black and circulating our dollars in our community several times before they exit. Minorities ought to preach, teach, and reteach one another about proper financial management from the womb to the tomb. We must get in the race by means of ownership. The process begins by saving, entering the money market, owning stocks and bonds, obtaining a mutual fund or certificate of deposit, and monitoring our credit for starters. It is our race to win. So, let us start winning now and forevermore!