When will we learn?


A recent study on wealth was conducted by Amy Traub, Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Meschede and Tom Shapiro. The study did a comparison of Black and White wealth and Latino and White wealth.

In our community, we have been consumed with racial inequities, voter suppression, health care, unjustified police shootings and racial bias in our criminal justice system. We’ve been concerned about shootings among our people within our community. Not often enough do we give serious attention to economic exclusion and inequity, and yet, poverty eats away at our communities every day.

Not helping ourselves
Too often, we find ourselves contributing to our problem. We often choose to spend our money where we are not respected and on items we simply do not need. Not enough of us spend our dollars in our own community to help in building our community.

Building wealth in our community is as important as all the other issues we face. As a matter of fact, with more attention to the wealth gap our people face, some of the other challenges would at least lessen.

According to the study, “No metric more powerfully captures the persistence and growth of economic inequality along racial and ethnic lines than the racial wealth gap. According to data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, the median White household possessed $13 in net wealth for every dollar held by the median Black household in 2013. That same year, median White households possessed $10 for each dollar held by the median Latino/a household.”

We know somebody
We can at least close that gap if we spend some of our money where we live.

All of us know somebody who sews and charges far less than the commercial businesses where we currently take our clothing to be repaired. We know somebody who repairs cars, who cuts hair and someone who curls hair. We sure know somebody who can run circles around anyone who cooks in the average restaurant outside our community.

There was a time when we were limited to businesses in our community. We patronized our own, and built prosperous businesses that put money back into our community. We held our events at our own churches, schools and businesses. We banked with Black banks.

I’m not suggesting we can handle all our business with Black companies/businesses. It sure would help Black wealth if we did as much business as possible where most of us live.

Here’s my list
My organization (NCBW) is 33 years old. For all that time, our banking has been with a Black bank where we know the people with whom we deal and they know us.

I purchase my clothing from a Black woman, get my hair done by a Black woman, attend a church pastored by a Black woman, and get my clothing repaired by a Black woman. We have a Black male accountant, a Black woman services our computers and our webmaster is Black. Our interns and our staff members are Black. I write for a Black woman’s wire service.

I don’t mean to suggest that we’d never hire or do business with a non-Black person, but I’m perfectly happy with doing most my business in our community and circulating our dollars there so that we can at least put a dent in that wealth gap.

My ‘ask’ of you
In every article I write, I try to have an “ask” of everyone or at least issue a challenge to think about how we improve our community.

I’m asking that if you’re not now doing business with at least one Black business, think about it, and try to find one Black person or company with which to do business – so long as they give back to our community.

Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org.

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