Dr. Claud Anderson, in his book, PowerNomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America, defines “wealth” in an exceptionally accurate manner. He defines it as, “…the net value of a person, group, or community less their liabilities of debt at a given point in time. It is stored value.” This net value can express itself in many ways, such as cash reserves, natural resources, or businesses owned. He goes on to define “income” as, “…the flow of dollars over a period of time.” These definitions are critical when discussing the wealth and ownership in Black America.
His overall assessment of Black wealth in America: WE OWN ALMOST NOTHING.
Taking a tour of the community in my own Black community of Fort Wayne, Indiana makes this assertion glaringly obvious. Hair and beauty supply stores owned by Whites and Asians. Gas stations/“convenience” shops and Chicago-style fry joints owned by people of Middle Eastern descent. Drug stores chain stores and low-cost chain stores owned by Whites. Banks owned by Whites. In a neighborhood where Black people are the majority, we own very few essential businesses.
We’re constantly relying on other people to run businesses and provide services to us when we should be providing them ourselves. And because we don’t own those businesses, we have no say in who gets hired. We’re at the mercy of anyone merciful enough to set up shop in our part of town. And we have to damn near beg for those business owners to hire us.
Cut the BS and call it what it is: ECONOMIC ENSLAVEMENT.
Economic enslavement doesn’t depend on your income. You can be the richest man on the face of the earth, but it means nothing if your source of that income is dependent upon someone else paying you to operate their business. I should make one thing clear: I find nothing wrong with working for someone else. Some of us are happy with just punching the clock and doing whatever task is asked of them, without the added pressure of keeping an entire enterprise afloat. But don’t get it twisted for a MOMENT. You are always at the mercy of someone else, and the thought of that should make you at least a little bit uncomfortable.
Take a minute to study this graph, created by the Pew Research Center, highlighting income disparity between races:
In 2014, the average income for a Black household of three hovered around $43,300. Hispanics averaged around the same. I grossed $43,472 that year, so I was right in the middle of that range. After factoring in Federal, State, and Local taxes, 401(k) payments, and insurance, I was left with around $500 a week. Accounting for rent, utilities, food, phone, and gas to get to and from work took me down to $170 a week.
And these are all considered necessities.
I just HAD to have that flippin’ iPhone, smh…
Then came my debt obligations. My student loans ran me $60 every week, and my credit card debt for 2 cards totaled $30 a week.
Grand total spending cash for the week: $80. Once again, that number may be higher or lower for you, depending on your own financial obligations.
My next question to you, Black Man in America, is this: What are we doing with the money we have left?
One of the lasting effects of our physical and economic enslavement is, in my opinion, our reliance upon material things to flaunt our status. It isn’t just the people flashing stacks of cash, driving fancy cars with rims taller than toddlers, or buying every pair of Jordan shoes that hit the market. This cuts across age, sex, religion, and any other means of categorizing Black people. We take our income and wealth and spend it, not only on things that depreciate (lose value) over time, but with people and business having little vested interest in our community.
In short, we buy things that lose value, from people who don’t value us enough to spend their earnings in our community, all just to show each other that we’re valuable.
The most impactful thing we can do with our money is keep it in our communities as long as possible to bring the kind of economic change we need. That means shopping local and “buying Black” wherever and whenever possible. And if you can’t get it local, get online and seek out someone who has it. The goal is to grow business for people who have a mutual interest in seeing our communities thrive.
Some people will accuse you of being racist, saying that you’re excluding other races of people from participating in our economic resurgence. That is as far from the truth as our sun is from the edge of the universe…plus a foot. Don’t fall for that BS argument.
Anyone who offers up that defense of the way things are is no friend to you. That person does not care about your economic well-being. It’s that simple.
We live in a capitalist society. In order to thrive in that society, you have to play the game. The hallmark of capitalism is competition, and letting the “free market” decide what’s fair. You can shop wherever you want. For the most part, one can control how you spend your dollar. And anyone that wants your dollar better offer a product or service worth purchasing.
You can buy and own a pair of shoes. Pool your money, and you can buy and own a shoe store, and generate wealth selling shoes to everyone. You’ll always depend on customers for income, but you’ll see a greater reward from your hard work, because it’s yours.
When you own something, you become invested in its future success.
It’s very rare that someone invests in something hoping that it’ll fail. When you’re invested in the success of something, you’ll do whatever it takes to make that success possible. When you begin to own and control the economics in your own neighborhood, you can create the jobs needed to generate more business for yourself and others, and put more people on the path to financial freedom. It’s a beautiful thing.
And, most importantly, it stops gentrification.
Don’t get me started on that shit, B.
So, start a business. Invest in the stock market. Find ways to make your money work for you and Black America. If we don’t, we’ll continue to be where we’ll always be: Dead last and begging for a pass.
I’ll leave you with Malcolm X’s explanation of economic Black Nationalism. I love you…
“So the economic philosophy of black nationalism means in every church, in every civic organization, in every fraternal order, it’s time now for our people to become conscious of the importance of controlling the economy of our community. If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we’re developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your own community, then you don’t have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business.” – Malcolm X, “The Ballot Or The Bullet”