Black Generational Wealth: Part 1-4

Part 1

Last year, rapper Jay-Z released an album entitled “4:44,” in which he taught financial literacy through his verses. Jay-Z came from nothing and he’s grown to learn how to accumulate wealth, something the average person isn’t taught how to do.

Most Black children attend public schools in neighborhoods that don’t have the best resources, which shows by the type of education those children receive. By the time an average Black student graduates from high school they won’t know how to do their taxes, they don’t know what credit is or how to build it, and they don’t understand the concept of wealth.

It’s time for our children, and the entire Black community to re-educate ourselves on Black Generational Wealth.

But, what does it mean to have Black Generational Wealth? Well, let’s start by taking the black off, and just focus on generational wealth.

Wealth isn’t just money, it’s everything you own such as land or a business, and the average Black person doesn’t own those things.

But, now let’s add on the generational. Generational wealth is at least one family member being able to pass down wealth (i.e. a business) to a younger member of the family, and over time that wealth increases, if done correctly.

And, finally, we add on the Black to generational wealth because this is something the Black community doesn’t usually have. We aren’t taught how to accumulate wealth, and we aren’t taught how to keep that wealth to be able to pass it down to future generations.

President of NAACP Milwaukee Fred Royal says it’s not just that our community is uneducated, but it also starts with our past.

One of the biggest assets to own in America is a home, and it’s written in our history that Black people were blocked from moving to certain areas: redlining, which made it so the Black community had to live in the poorer neighborhoods, meaning their homes never increased in value.

Royal also added, back in the 1950s-60s, the Black community wasn’t focused on saving or starting a business because their main goal was to own a home. When a home is passed down that doesn’t have much value to it then little to no wealth has been transferred.

Royal says the city needs to increase housing credits and we also need to take some responsibility for our positions in life.

“We have to do this collectively. Everybody has a role to play in this,” said Royal. “And, we gotta [sic] have the expectation that we have to support our own businesses.”

There’s an assumption in the Black community that Black people don’t support other Black people, but if we want to start progressing economically than we must pull our money together, said President & CEO of The Center for Self Sufficiency, Carl Wesley.

Wesley says sometimes for Black businesses to stay afloat they must raise their prices, and this turns the Black community away.

“Buy Black even though it’s against your economic interest,” he said.

But going back to our children not being taught financial literacy, Wesley believes these types of conversations need to be held at the dinner table. If we want to start accumulating wealth than we must start as early as we can, and that starts with our children.

Just like many issues it all starts with educating oneself, and others. Bill 280 was established last year to incorporate financial literacy into the curriculum of all Wisconsin public schools, and with more initiatives like this, the younger generation is sure to build their wealth faster and better than generations before them.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED WITH THE MILWAUKEE COURIER ON 02/03/18

Part 2

Wealth is in land and owning a piece of land is something most Americans, specifically Black people don’t have, but times are changing. With the access to anything we want to know, one would think those resources would be used to increase one’s status in life.

According to Generation One, a documentary created by Black people for Black people discussing the topic of wealth, there are six steps to being wealthy.

1. Real Estate (owning land)
2. Precious Metals (i.e. Bitcoin)
3. Foreign currency
4. Own a business
5. Equity (i.e. stocks)
6. Annuity (a form of insurance or investment that adds interest to your money each year it’s not touched)

Many don’t use the free (or affordable) tools provided by the internet, and around the city, to step up their financial literacy game. Achieving wealth is more attainable today, but that doesn’t matter if people don’t know how to get it or what it is they should be going to get.

Owner of Bara Legacies, LLC, a consulting agency and graduate of MPS, Cameron Summers said it’s a reason our people lack this knowledge.

“What we see and what we hear influences our brains,” he said. And most minorities come from poor neighborhoods that don’t accumulate much wealth. Resources and funds are scarce in these areas but that doesn’t mean this knowledge can’t be spread.

“Wealth is more than money and health is wealth,” he said, “and if we all win than we all have money to grow.”

Credit is key. Credit is borrowed money that can be used now and paid back later. Most times, one must pay what they owe plus interest, which is where many go wrong.

For example, if you’re approved for a Forever21 credit card with a $500 credit limit and an APR (annual percentage rate) of 27.740% and interest charge of 6.06% then you’ll always be paying more than what you’ve borrowed, unless your credit card charges no interest for some limited promotional reason.

What these numbers mean is if you spend $15 at Forever21 and you don’t pay this amount before the next statement bill (payment is due) then that $15 will be charged an extra 6.06%, which is called an interest charge. And if you’re bill is due at the same time another year has gone by since you’ve had your credit, then that $15 will not only have an interest charge, but also 27.740% from the APR.

These charges can be avoided by paying the amount as soon as possible, yet this isn’t always possible. The entire amount is not due by the next payment, but depending on your credit score, that will affect your minimum payment(how much you must pay without negatively affecting your score).

Always remember that APRs and interest charges vary depending on the person’s credit score and the company they’re receiving the credit from.

Now, credit score is how good or bad someone’s credit history is, and it ranges from 0-850, with 850 being A-one credit. A higher credit score can get you lower interest rates. There are a variety of factors that affect a credit score, such as how long you’ve had credit (the shorter the credit history, the lower your score will be), if you make payments on time (a late payment can decrease a credit score tremendously), and how much of your credit you use (always try to only utilize (spend) 30 % of your total credit limits.

This sounds great, free money now, but let’s not forget credit has ruined the Black community. Most of us are in debt from overspending on things we really don’t need. Just because you have credit doesn’t mean you should use it.

Another mistake people tend to make is closing out their credit card once they’ve paid the balance off. Never cancel a card, either let it close itself from not using it, or spend very small amounts on it (as low as $10) and then immediately pay it off. This always looks good on a credit history plus it boosts scores.

One important thing about wealth people must remember is that not everyone with great credit has money. It’s all about how you play the game. There are many people who lease expensive items, such as luxury cars, but they’re able to afford them because their monthly payments are lower.

It’s not impossible to grow wealth, but you have to start somewhere.

National Care Financial Group is a million-dollar enterprise located in California that is one of America’s largest African-American owned financial services firms, according to the website, and it’s owned by a Black man.

CEO of National Care, Malcolm “MJ” Harris, says one must understand the barriers put in front of them because they’re a minority, but don’t let those stop you.

“We have all the tools to create Black Generational Wealth,” he said. “We need to become entrepreneurs.”

Harris says he experienced Black Generational Wealth head on because his grandmother, too, owned an insurance agency and she gave him the tools (knowledge) to build his own empire.

Starting at 18, people can apply and be approved for credit. Only spend what you can afford to pay with cash and make smart investments that will pay off long-term.

And with good credit, you can be approved for loans at a low interest rate to then purchase land and now you’re on the high road to attaining Black Generation Wealth.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED WITH THE MILWAUKEE COURIER ON 02/10/18

Part 3

At what point in your life did you realize you needed to save money or have you not come to that realization yet? It’s okay if you haven’t, because, many Americans tend to forget or don’t know the importance of saving, and if they do, they can’t due to financial burdens.

There are many steps to save money, you just have to find the one that works for you. Sometimes, opening a savings account at a bank that isn’t connected to your checking account could do the trick. Or maybe, every Friday a certain amount of money is automatically taken out of your checking account and placed into your savings. No matter what works for you, always remember to pay yourself first.

People tend to pay their bills, such as electric, rent and car note before even thinking to put money aside for themselves. Once you start treating yourself like a bill then saving your money becomes easier.

At most jobs, there’s an option to have a certain amount of your money taken out and put away into a different account, such as savings. And with this option, it’s like the money was never made so you can’t miss something that was never there.

For those who are too bogged down with bills to save, well there’s always a way. Start writing down each time you spend a dime, whether it’s on your debit card or with cash, write it down every time. Once you know where your money is being spent, you can then decide what things you no longer want to spend your money on and start putting that extra cash into savings.

But, saving is only one part of the game to reaching generational wealth in the Black community.

“One stream of income will never be enough,” said Dr. Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, education administrative director of Teacher Education, Professional Development and Licensing. “Even if you have a job you can open up a business.”

Hendricks-Williams believes Millennials will be the generation to access Black Generational Wealth, she’s just not sure if they’re going to teach it. She thanks her mother for the knowledge she was given about credit, education and having a job, which is why she always hustled, the legal way while working for someone else.

We tend to spend at least eight hours of our day for at least five days out the week working for someone else just to come home and not work on our own dreams. Working a 9-5 will only help others accomplish their life goals while yours are stuck only being a dream.

The Black community has to realize that getting a job to make money isn’t going to make us wealthy. We have to start owning businesses and land, especially owning in our own neighborhoods. Most gas stations and corner stores in the Black community are owned by other races who don’t live in our neighborhoods. The money we’re spending at these establishments are hardly ever put back into our communities, yet we continue to support them.

“Black generational wealth is possible, but we have to be intentional about creating it,” said Executive Director of LISC Donsia Strong Hill.

From not being able to dress the way we wanted to, to being treated like the scum of the earth, Black people, have in a way, became materialistic, but Strong Hill believes it’s time to step out of that mindset and into real wealth.

“Don’t worry about what you’re wearing, worry about what you own,” said Strong Hill. “If you have a dollar, save a dime.”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED WITH THE MILWAUKEE COURIER ON 02/17/18

Part 4

There comes a moment in a child’s life when their parents are supposed to give them “the birds and the bees” talk because their parents understand that this topic will be important in their child’s life later down the line. Money, plays a bigger role than sex though, so why isn’t there a “wealth” talk?

Wealth isn’t usually a dinner-table topic, which is a problem within itself. How can a child begin to understand the concept of wealth if they’re not taught the true meaning of the word until well into their adulthood?

Just by starting the conversation at an earlier age gives that child a head start on the game of wealth.

“Often times, many people in our community don’t know how this works [wealth],” said President & CEO of The Center for Self Sufficiency, Carl Wesley, “so we have to start as early as possible.”

He suggested that learning about the concept of money should be a part of the building blocks in K-12.

Just like many things, creating generational wealth in the Black community starts at home. Teaching our youth the importance of not just the dollar but how you can split that dollar into two ways to make an even bigger profit, is the goal.

Wesley does believe the conversations should be first brought up at home because White people have been having these conversations with their children for hundreds of years, and now it’s our time to start.

“Teach your family, teach your kids, teach your cousins,” said Wesley.

If a child understands to save a percentage of the money they receive throughout their youth years, then they’ll be on the road to having something to fall back on once they’re older. And if they are taught how to manage their money correctly, by the time they get their first job, they won’t be the typical teenage who splurges through their money. Instead, they could be saving up for college, a business or anything they want by just putting up a few dollars from each check.

Over time, a few dollars will turn into a few hundred dollars, and then into a few thousand. Having $3,000 saved up by the time an individual is 18 isn’t impossible.

The Creative Development and Outreach Director at TRUE Skool, Fidel Verdin says the Millennials have every chance to create generational wealth. According to him, “you can create your own individual revolution in your basement.”

“Our young people are simply not going the traditional path we did and our parents did,” said Verdin, “they don’t want to work a 9-5,” and we have to start teaching our kids it’s okay to think this way.

White children have been taught to be a manager while Black children are taught to be workers, but that narrative can and needs to change.

By simply letting your child ask questions, helps their mind expand and makes them understand the world in a new way. And rethinking how this world runs is something our children need to know how to do.

It’s okay for your child to ask you what options exist other than going to college, and you should have the knowledge of what options they have.

Words create reality and once we start speaking wealth into our youth’s ears, they will make it their reality to create it.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED WITH THE MILWAUKEE COURIER ON 02/24/18

Nyesha StoneComment