MONEY AND MUCH MORE
Wealth comes to us in many forms. It’s often said that health is wealth, and we agree. The many forms of love are also forms of wealth. Without fellowship, companionship, support, affection, tenderness, even the fattest portfolio of blue-chip stocks may leave us feeling impoverished.
But let’s get real: while we invest in treasures of the spirit, the everyday world runs on cash (or at least crypto). And it’s no secret that a huge disparity looms between Black wealth and wealth in the rest of the world. The reason is clear. In shorthand, the cause is pale, male, and Yale. In other words, the traditional institutions of white patriarchy. Black people have always known how these disparities are reinforced. Until quite recently, there has been no legal recourse and no societal acknowledgement of this systemic bondage.
Black wealth has been hampered by the cumulative, intergenerational effects of the harms of slavery, the Jim Crow regime, and subsequent ongoing mass incarceration, red-lining restricting housing options for Black families, and countless police atrocities.
Historically, Black prosperity has met resistance from the white power structure, further complicated by a lack of financial legacy and generational wealth. For example, the destruction of Black Wall Street during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre continues to impact the region and the nation. Today, only about 1% of the 20,000 businesses in metropolitan Tulsa are Black-owned, according to the Brookings Institute. A bill signed into law in Oklahoma in 2021 banned teaching students about the Massacre, along with other incidents of violence against Black wealth and Black people.
The current movement of Black reparations in the USA is now in motion to eliminate this disparity. There’s much discussion about how these reparations are to be made. The working models include German payments to victims of the Holocaust and their descendants, U.S. payments to Japanese Americans unjustly incarcerated during World War II, and U.S. payments to families who lost loved ones during the 9/11 terror attacks. We see no reason for Black reparations to be any different.
Our vision, shared by many, is to see an overall reparations fund directed to neighborhood and community building projects, including building endowments for historically Black colleges and universities, but with the bulk of payouts made to eligible individual recipients in the form of endowments that take the form of trust accounts. And, of course, cash.
Many current estimates place the recommended amount for these reparations at $800,000 per Black American household. That’s a substantial amount, exceeding the average cost of a home in our country. While it’s chilling to assign a dollar amount to a human life, notably for a culture whose introduction to America began with physically building its infrastructure, the lack of restittuion is even more deeply disturbing.
Each edition, we’ll explore aspects of Black wealth, ranging from helpful advice from financial experts on managing credit, selling a home, investments and retirement, to the inspiring stories of Black entrepreneurs who have prevailed against the odds to earn success. We’ll pay particular attention to aspects of wealth management that take on heightened importance in the later decades of life, including estate planning and understanding the difference between a will and a living revocable trust.
We pay special attention to the shift that’s happening among Black women. In the past decade alone, Black women have made landmark strides in educational achievement and accomplishment, redefining the status of Black women as global entrepreneurs, executives,and economic players. These strides now lay the foundations for a new era in generational wealth-building for Black families, establishing pathways to excellence that once seemed out of reach.
Black people who wear cowrie shells as jewelry and woven into their hair send a multi-layered message of solidarity. Before the arrival of Europeans, many African societies used the cowrie shell as currency. The shells are still used in many parts of the Diaspora to tell fortunes and predict the future. And the unique clefted shape is a universal signifier of Blackness and African heritage.
Another natural resource that also continues to bless the African continent is gold, with Benin and Gambia growing in global importance as mining sources for this precious metal. These ancient motifs are our inspiration as we report on how to help Black wealth grow, as a fully empowered way of writing our own future narratives.
This combination of expanded consciousness and awareness, along with the expansion of tangible wealth possessed by Black women and Black families, is the template for a more just and equitable future. And it’s also good news for Black women who are enjoying greater longevity, even as the economic forecast seems bleak. Greater knowledge paired with greater assets point to one thing: the best is yet to come.