Why Personal Finance is Political

June 3, 2020

Right now our country is in a crisis, dealing not only with a global pandemic but the senseless killing of George Floyd. With tens of millions of people facing unprecedented health and financial challenges right now, we should be outraged and come together to take action and demand systemic change.

I’ve avoided being political with my businesses for years, but I can no longer stand on the sidelines as I know we can and must do better.

We not only must put an end to racism and police brutality, but also pass smart public policy that helps close the black-white wealth gap in America. The injustices that the black community faces daily is something I will never experience as a privileged white male, so that is why I am using my voice to speak out and demand change.

Racism and police brutality, unfortunately, is only the tip of the iceberg in this criminally unjust system. Covid-19 showed us the health disparities between blacks and whites. African Americans accounted for nearly 23% of all Coronavirus cases, despite only making up 13% of the total U.S. population.

When it comes to personal finance, the deck is stacked against black people yet again. My friend, Tanja Hester shared this tweet and a powerful blog post on this very topic that I encourage you to read.

Some like to think that personal finance is not political and that anyone can become rich and achieve financial freedom, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone is supposed to have equal rights and opportunities but when you look at history you see an economic system that was designed to perpetuate systemic racism and inequality in the black community.

Let’s examine the black-white wealth gap closer

According to CNBC, black women are only paid 61 cents for every $1 that their white male counterparts make. Despite black women participating in the workforce at much higher rates, this pay gap exists in both high and low paying jobs regardless of age, location, and industry. Over the course of a 40-year career, a black woman may earn nearly $1 million less than the average white male.

Ultimately money buys power and security. In 2016, data showed that the average net worth of black families was $17,150 while white families on average had a net worth of $171,000. That’s a difference of 897%. This Brookings Institute article provides some insight as to why the wealth gap is the way it is, but ultimately American history is what we must look to.

Generational wealth has compounding effects just like saving and investing. Everyone in the personal finance world loves to talk about their success (I’m guilty), but we often fail to consider the extreme privilege many of us have.

To the black community, I hear you, I see you, and I apologize for however my actions have contributed to a racist system. I am committing myself to learning, being a better ally, supporter, and friend, and calling on my community to continue conversations, growth, education, and change whenever possible. Everyone deserves an equal and fair shot. We have a lot of work to do and I’m not sure what comes next, but I stand with and for you.

To further our learning journey here are a few great resources, all produced by POC, which discuss inequality in the personal finance community. I have found their stories and teachings important, educational, and inspirational, and urge you all to check them out.

Rich & Regular — https://richandregular.com/

Our Rich Journey — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChObmEJP3bgGUXJGc2ePP3Q

Tiffany ” The Budgetnista” Aliche — https://thebudgetnista.com/

90 of the top black financial influencers — https://mymoneychronicles.com/list-of-african-american-personal-finance-bloggers/

Systemic problems like racism and economic inequality will require bold action to solve. Each of us has a voice, and that voice is powerful. Get involved in the political process, educate yourself on the issues, and most importantly vote in every election.

In addition to voting, you can also donate to non-profit organizations that are making real change happen for the black community.

If we do nothing the problems will only get worse, so be part of the solution, and know that #BlackLivesMatter.

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