Writer/blogger for The Root, Lawrence D. Bobo, used the term “The Worry” to describe the anxiety of Black Americans feel about their economic status today.
In the last post on “The Worry,” I described what I feel to be the true worry for Black people: that as this recession wears on and recovery happens slowly, Black people will suffer more than most because of the fragility of our economic place in the country.
While it may seem that Black people are progressing because we have been granted a number of civil rights and access to opportunities we have never had (I.e. presidential office), the truth is that we are not as far as should be , could be, or would like to be. The majority of Black people are not experiencing or benefitting from our progressive strides. We are still disproportionately disenfranchised from opportunities and our rights are frequently violated and/or denied through legal loopholes.
The problem is that we refuse to recognize the fragility of our status in this country. We refuse to admit that there is much work to be done to make our progress permanent and continuous. We are so blindsided by the lure of the shine that we can’t see it’s not always gold.
I’m not insinuating that we adopt a victim mentality or glamorize poverty or make peace with mediocrity. I’m suggesting that view our national position with an unflinching gaze that allows to see the pervading inequalities and know that it is fact and it is our current reality but it does not define who we are, our potential, or our ability to change those facts.
The key to Black Americans becoming anti-fragile lies in economics. As it pertains to economics we are powerful as a whole. The 2010 Arial Black Incestors Survey reported:
The median amount black investors contribute to their retirement plans is $230 per month, compared to $337 a month contributed by white investors. The median assets black investors have accumulated in their current retirement plans is about half the amount white investors have accumulated: $56,000 compared to $106,000.
Since 1998, the survey has consistently found black investors save and invest less than white investors of similar income levels. This year, the median amount black households reported saving on a monthly basis is $189, compared to $367 among white households. The 2010 findings mark the first time in a decade that African-American households have reported saving less than $200 per month.
That’s a problem. It begins because we don’t take the time with our children to invest I’m them what WE know they need to know about being Black in America. We asse that if we get them to school they will be fine. Wrong. There are some things teachers are not always and are never required to teach our children. We have to impart the importance of investment and supporting Black economic wealth. That begins with not teaching our kids and/or each other that everything Black is second rate. There are bad businesses everywhere owned by people of all nationalities. We have to stop to ourselves what the rest of the country is doing to us: letting a few negative experiences with Black owned businesses define all possible experiences with Black businesses.
The 2012 Nielsen Consumer Report stated:
african-americans continue to experience transitions in the mix of household incomes. the average income for african-american households nationwide is $47,290 with 35% earning $50,000 or more. with an overall aggregate household income level of $695.6 billion, african-americans continue to be viable consumers with a collective buying power estimated to reach $1.1 trillion8 by 2015.
the Black population and its aggregate buying power is overall more geographically widespread and diverse than other ethnic or racial segments. Companies seeking to connect with more affluent african-americans will find in certain nielsen Designated Market areas (DMa), there is a correlation between a large Black population and a large base of higher-earning Black households. the washington, DC DMa, for example, is 25% african-american and has some of the highest african-american median household incomes in the country.
What that tells us is we have the economic power as a group. What we don’t have is an appreciation for those businesses, a conviction to support them, and a vision of where that kind of cooperative economic support can take us.
It’s all good to keep it real and call ourselves out on our flaws but we get awfully right mouth- and walleted- about the ones who do good business and contribute positively. Lets focus on them. There’s an old saying about how foolish it is to cut off your nose to spite your face. In the end you only hurt yourself. The greatest promise for durability is in the strength of the community.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man