There's not a whole lot that just disturbs me. I'm pretty laid back (no lie detectors here on my blog, right?), but when I saw this story tweeted the day before yesterday, it shocked me - even woke me up and wouldn't let me get back to sleep. And I believe in getting good sleep.
But no. My peace was gone. I couldn't roll around on my bed drooling into my pillow after reading how Black Americans are twenty-times poorer than White Americans according to the last Census. As I read the article, my mind starting racing. I knew things were bad, but this bad? How could this be? Why could this be? What can be done about it? This was crazy. The median white family has twenty times the net worth of the median black family. I'm being repetitive, but let that sink in for a second.
Now come back...
I saw them talking about this on "Morning Joe" or one of those other "news and opinion" programs my folks like to watch. They (OF COURSE!) had a black person on there to talk about it. It was Melissa Harris-Perry. She seems like a fine writer and contributor...but...in about two minutes, the dialogue turned to the subject of jobs. Jobs. Jobs? This ain't about jobs, people! This ain't about income. This is about wealth! Net wealth, to be more specific, what's left after you've paid off all those people sending you bills. This is generational stuff we're dealing with here.
(You'll notice it's only poor people who talk about income. Rich people talk about worth.)
I thought about posting a question on my Facebook page asking people what they thought about the article and possible solutions. I was going to address the topic to black people only so I could read all the responses and plan to do the opposite. I thought that might be unnecessarily divisive, so I passed on that idea. I also thought it might be tough for a lot of black folks, my folks, to read these statistics without complaining about systemic racism and such. Systemic and individual racism still exist in this country. No doubt about it. Racism has impacted my own wallet in ways I may never know.
However, when talking about wealth and income disparity, the less endowed often fall back on complaining - and complaining isn't a plan. So, here's where we are. We need to do something differently and we need to do something now. Here are some of my ideas. Please let me know yours, because, as one of my old friends likes to say: "This is some bull spit!"
1. Black Americans need to stop talking about jobs. We need to be building careers and, better still, businesses. Business and entrepreneurship may be our solution. Working is better (maybe?) than not working, but vastly inferior to owning something. By and large, we own nothing. We don't own the means of getting something. I think this is the first front in the war. I hear black women say they want their man to have a job. How about having a company? A career?
2. Black Americans need to get married and stay married. We destroy wealth, income, savings and stability with the way we (fail to) manage our relationships. Not only are we destroying what we have worked for, but we make it harder to come back up. Too many separate accounts, too much money going to employ child support office workers, two electric bills, too many people renting and not able to afford to own homes.
3. Black Americans need to stop investing so much time and energy into trinkets. I can't remember the last time I saw a white person behind the wheel when I'm being passed by an Escalade on chrome rims. I'm sure there are some driving them. If I think out loud about the wealthiest people I know - mostly white and Jewish - here's what they drive: pre-owned Lexus E-Series, Subaru, new Cadillac sedan, pre-owned Lexus (old-style body SUV), Prius. Just so you know, at least two of those men are worth well in excess of $25 million. The one who drives the Caddy is worth over $200 million. On the other hand, I have known too many people with the new Benz and no garage to park it in. We must stop gaining a sense of worth from Air Jordans and put that money into college funds.
4. Black Americans need to invest and maybe even over-invest in insurance. Along with home ownership, this is the biggest issue regarding generational wealth. Minorities often have to start over from scratch with each successive generation. If we're not going to have businesses and real estate to pass to our children, we should at least try to make sure they don't have to dip into savings to put us in the ground. That's all I'm saying.
5. Black Americans need to turn off the television and pick up more books. We need ideas. Hard work alone isn't going to get us where we need to be. I think it was Napoleon Hill who said great wealth - when it comes quickly - is never the result of hard work, but of hard thought. Or something like that. I'm mangling the guys quote probably. The point is still made. We need to know less, a lot less, about what Ice and Coco are up to. We need to know more, a lot more, about what's driving these astronomical gold prices and how we can get in on that action.
6. Black Americans need to volunteer more and even work together. As business owners, can we stop trying to take over the world alone so often? I respect your dream to own a salon. Maybe we can partner up and build a chain across the entire region? You say your mama's chicken and biscuits are the best ever? If the world can support a fast food Chinese restaurant, I ought to be able to get some chittlins and greens through the drive-thru somewhere. Even lions hunt together.
What else? Talk back to me. Email me. Tweet me. I'm really trying to put together some solutions here. This thing has me beside myself...but only because we all know it's true. The situation is even worse for single black women. But that's for another day...
(By the way, I know I'm guilty of making this a black-white issue. Latinos aren't doing much better. In some categories, they are doing worse.)
Mark Anthony McCray helps people live on PURPOSE, achieve higher PERFORMANCE and experience true PROSPERITY. Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don't miss a thing and forward this to a friend if you found it helpful. All material © Copyright, Mark Anthony McCray unless otherwise noted!
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