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Blog Posts

restoring black wealth

Christian Clarke

photograph by jeremy paige

photograph by jeremy paige

there is a timeless quote and negro spiritual written by the great philosophers, the wu-tang clan that goes: “cash rules everything around me, c.r.e.a.m., get the money, dollar dollar bill y’all.” it is an undeniable truth that money makes the world go ‘round. whether it be politics, business, sports or academia; the person with the deepest pockets has the largest voice and the most say in what is going to happen.

it is also an undeniable truth that people of color have been robbed of their wealth time and time again. historically you can begin with the first interaction between the european colonial world and africa. the colonists stripped the continent of its natural resources; which in those times were the equivalent to money. without a global currency, trades were held in different goods such as gold, ivory, spices and sugar. taking these resources from the different countries in africa meant they would already be severely behind in terms of wealth when originally, they were so far ahead. on top of that, they took the people for slaves and forced them to build the entire infrastructure of a country for free. slavery was the greatest reason for the building of wealth in america. the free labor meant they were able to get pure profit. even if a crop that was being grown was no longer profitable they could sell the slaves to still return an income. after the abolition of slavery, blacks were still kept down economically with the implementation of “separate but equal”. this prevented blacks from being able to get equivalent education, jobs, loans or anything that would help them be successful.

through all of this struggle somehow black people were still able to build a prosperous community known as “black wall street” which was home to black businesses in all industries. even that would soon be taken from the black economy; in 1921 the community was bombed (insert explanation). after this trauma, the economy wasn’t given an opportunity to heal or progress as shortly after, the great depression came in and wiped out the global economy. this cycle continues with everything from forcing drugs into the black community, ripping apart families to educational glass ceilings. with all that being said, the past is the past and we are here to make progress and not just think about the many ways the black economy has been stifled for hundreds of years.

the restoration of black wealth begins with understanding the difference between income and wealth. it is a common misconception in the black community that the road to wealth is paved with a high salary. high paying jobs are nice to have but will often require more of your time and more schooling which typically means you’re just working to pay off your debts and don’t have time to enjoy any of your money or to actually accumulate wealth. you are merely treading water. investing, renting out properties and owning businesses are great ways to make passive income. now i know what you’re thinking— “but all those things take a lot of money.” well that brings us to another fundamental thing that we need to be reminded of: budgeting.

build an effective budget that allows you to save money, forces you to use your money wisely while still letting you enjoy yourself. there are great apps available to help you manage your money no matter what your preference is. creating a budget you can stick to will allow you to save money that you can use to invest in different avenues of passive income. investing can be in a multitude of things, not just the stock market. for example, there are crowd sourcing websites that will allow you to give out loans and get interest back on it. even if you choose the market as your medium you don’t need hundreds or thousands of dollars to start investing. taking the time to research what you’re investing in will be key to helping you make the most out of your money. building this income can then be used to start a business.

a business can be built on anything you’re passionate about. there’s a niche for just about anything you can think of. don’t think any idea is a dumb idea. black businesses are the backbone of the black economy because the more of them we have, the less we will be forced to spend our money at companies that don’t care about the black community. if you don’t want to start a business supporting black businesses is just as important. you may be used to shopping at target or walmart, but there is a black alternative in your area you can support and help build our community. when supporting them don’t ask for a “brother or sister” discount either. pay them without question the same way you would for any other place of business.

the other side of this is understanding tax laws and learning how to move your money properly and adjusting your money with different kinds of write-offs. accumulating this information for an individual is not enough though— spread the information and teach as many as people as possible. what often happens is people make it out to build their wealth but never reach back to help the next person.

in summary, rebuilding black wealth will come down to these few things:

1)     do not blame your fellow black people for the state we are in as a people; society worked for hundreds of years to keep us down and build a system that wasn’t meant for us

2)     passive income > active income

3)     budget! budget! budget!

4)     support those that look like you first and foremost