The National Urban League 40 years ago released the first edition of its State of Black America report. The report interjected serious consideration of the social, economic and social political issues facing African-Americans into the national discourse. Published in 1976, schools had been legally desegregated for 22 years, the Civil Rights Act of 1965 had been in place 11 years, and the economy was one year into economic recovery from the recession that lasted from November 1973 to March 1975.
Blacks were nearly twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, the median household had only 59 cents for every dollar of income in the white household, and African-Americans were three times more likely to live in poverty than whites. To go further back, and add the statistic provided by the elder statesman on black economics, Claude Anderson, at the end of slavery in 1876, blacks owned less than one half of one percent of the total wealth of the U.S. That figure has remained the same to this day almost 150 years later. Overall wealth and so-called spending power is the focus of our talk today.
The National Urban Leagues 40 year comparison from 1976-2016 is not much of a shock or surprise to many in the black community, despite having a black family in the White House for the past 8 years. The New York Times in 1976 published an article titled “Distress Signal,” reporting on the first edition of the National Urban Leagues State of Black America. The Times article said at the time, “Beyond the statistics it contains, gloomy enough by themselves, the report dramatizes a substantial failure of political leadership.” This is what we need to also discuss moving forward.
The median income for a black family in 1976 was $9,242 for a white family, it was $15,537. In 2016 the average black family earns approximately $35,481 compared to the average white family nationwide at $59,622. In terms of people living below the poverty line, in 1976 Blacks were 29.4% compared to whites at 9.1% in 1976. In 2016 Blacks are 27% in poverty living below that line, whites are at 10%. The unemployment rate of blacks in 1976 was at 13.2%, whites were at 7%. Today Black unemployment they say averages at 9.6% with whites at 4.8%. Home ownership for blacks was 43.7% compared to whites at 67.6%. Due to the recent recession of 2008, blacks were hit harder in this most important category. The average American has most of their wealth in their home so this aspect is critical. Today black home ownership is at 43% with whites at 72.6%. There are other stats that you could check out at,http://soba.iamempowered.com/2016-executive-summary.
As we can see from this study, things have not changed much from an economic standpoint for blacks in forty years straight! There are some exceptions of course.We have the first black family occupying the White House. We have many black families that make well over $35k. We have many examples of athletes and entertainers and personalities that have high paying jobs. We have doctors, entrepreneurs and lawyers. The problem is there are many many more of us living and stuck in or just above the poverty line.This has the average where it is. The New York Times in 1976 called all of this a “Substantial failure of political leadership.” I would have to agree partially with that for those times and today. The problem is in the midst of all of these depressing statistics somehow, some way, Black people as a group are spending more than 1 Trillion dollars a year on things! How could this be possible?! I am pretty sure the white media put this stat out and the black media picked it up and it spread throughout the black community. It sounds good and impressive. “Blacks predicted to have 1.1 Trillion dollars in spending power by 2015.” The comparison of the so-called “spending power,” to other economies throughout the world. This would be a fair comparison if Blacks in America were actually in unison in their spending, as a nation moving as one, taking accountability for every aspect of our spending. Converting that so-called “spending power” into real economic power in politics, agriculture nationwide and community by community, building the necessary institutions, owning the properties and businesses in our own communities, banking etc.
I started feeling like the 1 Trillion dollar spending article was a calling card for other businesses, if they did not already know about the “spending power” of the black community. What else could it have been. The state of Black Americans as well as Blacks throughout the diaspora economically is in a dire state of emergency! We have the stats! I have studied some of the breakdown of where the money was being spent. Outside of general living expenses, we are buying clothing like “The lifestyles of the rich and famous”. Black people are the number 1 consumers of alcohol from the study, and conversely we love and spend hardily on entertainment. We have no ownership in most of this designated spending, and we do little to no producing. The way the 1 trillion is being spent is the equivalent to a rapper with the newest Jordans, tens of thousands of jewelry with overpriced bottles of alcohol just throwing stacks of money at the strip club right after we get paid. No savings, No investments. No ownership, No Business, No security for children. No real solid plan for economic freedom. Just spending. Actually the rapper may have his finances in some order, savings, 401 k, college funds, home ownership, investments. He may have just put a small amount aside just for the club to create the illusion of wealth to attract more business. If this is true he would be doing way better than the Black collective basically throwing away billions of dollars each year with no real R.O.I.
While I do agree that there has been a general failure in the handling of Black people not just from politicians, but the U.S government in general. There are things that could be done now, with what we have, that could turn the tide economically. There are factors that can be applied to our 1 trillion-dollar economy that could set us up to build and grow and sustain ourselves with an economic platform to last for generations to come! This 1 trillion dollars that is being thrown out of the window is more than the GDP of over a dozen nations. If we could stop the bleeding and begin to circulate that money in black businesses and black communities from Harlem to Ghana, a new nation could be formed. These same factors can and should be applied to your personal finances fist, your home economy which is your business. Are you running your home finances like a trip to the strip club? Black people can change our economic destiny for the next 200 years if we started now. We have the economic incentive and the information to make it happen! Republican, Democrat, it does not matter who the president is. Group economics, business building and maintenance with a shared goal and vision for the next generation can create a powerful competitive economic foundation for the next 200 years. There is a sleeping giant next door that is worth over a trillion dollars. Don’t wake him up…