By William Reed
What’s wrong with Black Americans is our lack of accomplishments, and understanding of, “collective capitalism.” Blacks here bill themselves as “the richest in the world.” But, our status may be comparable to that of being “brightest kids in the dumb row.” Whites’ median household worth is 12.9 times the Black households – $141,900 to $11,000. It’s become commonplace that the annual state of Black America is always “bad” or worse. The solution for the plight of Blacks in America will not come from Whites, but from within. The key for Blacks is for us to become “successful American capitalists.”
No question that the descendants of American slaves continue to be, oppressed and discriminated against. America’s perennial “victims,” Blacks remain likelier than Whites to lack jobs, be poor, get arrested and serve time in prison. Perhaps no statistic better illustrates our country’s shameful legacy history of treating Blacks unequal than the wealth gap. Today, the richest 1 percent of the US population owns close to 40 percent of the wealth. The wealth of America is accumulated through the practice of successful capitalism. The top 25 percent of US households own 87 of its wealth.
Rather than their typical “wringing of hands” Blacks need to cease “I Can’t Breathe” demonstrations and move in mass to embrace and employ a well-coordinated political, cultural, and economic movement. This includes: wealth creation, financial literacy and community development. Blacks building wealth is simple and doesn’t require luck, genius, or special connections. Just make more than you spend and invest the difference wisely. Develop simple daily habits that result in wealth accumulation.
Blacks must develop habits to “Buy Black” “Bank Black” and use political power collectively to promote Black-based-and-oriented issues and legislation. First and foremost, Blacks’ habits and mindsets must change. According to a 2007 study performed by the Selig Center for Economic Growth, African American buying power totals $1.1 trillion. Factor in our income, and American Blacks are the 20th” richest nation” on the planet. So, why doesn’t each of us make a resolution to “Buy Black? Each Black household should make, at least, a monthly commitment to make a $100 or more purchase of gasoline, groceries, liquor, clothing, dry-cleaning, furniture, recreation and dining, etc. from a Black merchant.
Step two is to “Bank Black.” America has 40 million African-Americans, but less than 1 percent of federally chartered banks are Black-owned.
The number of Black-owned banks also lags behind the number of financial institutions owned by Asian-Americans, who made up 5.1 percent of the population. Asian-Americans own 40 banks nationwide and do well in the American system of capitalism.
History shows that American Blacks have always been in competition with one another. Blacks were divided by skin complexion as house and field slaves. Through hundreds of generations, Blacks still illustrate tendencies to compete with each other and tear one another down. Other ethnics continuously support their own, but Blacks constantly separate within their race. The most dysfunctional of Blacks’ lives is that our consumers spend just 3 percent of their incomes with Black businesses.
Too often, Blacks want to be part and parcel of where Whites are, and what they are doing. Independent economic development is the key to community revitalization and political success in a capitalist society. To be more a part of America’s capitalistic society, more Blacks need to gain a sense of community. A sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, and that members matter to one another, and a shared. A strong sense of community enhances commitment among members, mutual support.
Too many Blacks attribute limited access to capital as resulting from racism. The real reason Blacks have limited access to capital is that the whole of us send our capital out as fast as we get it. It’s important that Black youth grow up patronizing Black-owned businesses. Parents must emphasize to children the importance of supporting their community by purchasing products and services from people who look like them.
What’s wrong with the Black culture these days is that we don’t try to help each other. – William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com