June 19, 2023
If you don’t know what happened on June 19th 1865 let me give you a quick recap. It is the day that the last enslaved black people (250,000) found out that they were free and actually had been free for two years! It occurred in Galveston Texas and that is where Juneteenth was born. That […]
If you don’t know what happened on June 19th 1865 let me give you a quick recap. It is the day that the last enslaved black people (250,000) found out that they were free and actually had been free for two years! It occurred in Galveston Texas and that is where Juneteenth was born. That is your history recap around Juneteenth, now let’s move forward.
Why I say it is only the beginning is because although freedom was announced were they really free? Yes they could walk off of those plantations without threats of beatings, dogs chasing them, or being hung, but what about everything else that came with true freedom. They didn’t have political freedom, justice freedom, and although they built this country from the ground up they did not have financial freedom.
What they did have was determination and that determination was on full display during the “Reconstruction” era (1865-1877). During this time African Americans especially in the area of politics made giant leaps forward. There were sixteen African Americans in congress and over 600 elected in state legislatures. Hundreds more in local offices. During this era African Americans had voting power, was passing relevant legislation, and making strides in policy, education, as well as financial stability.
I’m sure you can guess what happened after this.
Destruction of that progress became the main goal of whites who did not want to see African Americans free. Who did not want to see them reach equity or earn all the money they were owed. So these groups began to kill local African American lawmakers, intimidate African American voters, pass unjust laws that harmed blacks, construct racist systems, and do whatever it took to stop the progress of a people who were doing what it took to lift themselves up. To create a life for themselves and their families.
Even with all of these evil tactics and policies African Americans still moved forward. They built entire towns (even though they would be burned down or become subject to “urban renewal”), built their own colleges and schools, produced thousands of inventions (50,000 patents in 1870 to 1940 alone), executed “Operation Breadbasket”, even achieved the first African American President and Vice President!
But, all of this is still just the beginning.
There is much more work to do.
I would even argue that we as African Americans are at a fork in the road. The fork is a choice between the continuation of going backwards (self inflicted by the way) or going forward (taking what our ancestors did and amplifying it).
You may have just got offended if you are black when I said that part about the continuation of going backwards and it being self inflicted. Now don’t get me wrong there is systemic racism and policies throughout the United States and the world, but guess what? We don’t have to help their cause.
Helping their cause by supporting tv shows and music that degrades us. We used to have tv shows that showed us being doctors, lawyers, engineers, lieutenants, colonels, marketing executives, radio djs, deans, dorm directors, entrepreneurs, construction workers, teachers, college professors, and many other respectable careers. Now 98% of the shows are portraying us as drug dealers, murderers, strippers, and anything else that can be ignorant. The other 2% is/was Blackish, Abbott’s Elementary, and anything with a black cast on Disney.
The sad part is that some of the ignorant shows are created by black people and then watched by black people.
Then we get mad about the stereotypes that happen in real life. Media is a powerful machine and can shape entire societies, so whatever is put out through tv, radio, and social media is what is going to be in the minds who see it.
Want to know the basis of “Redlining?” The basis was to show on a map where the “undesirable” areas of a city was and put a red line around it. That red circle was always around areas where black people lived because that is how the realtors, bankers, and the government looked at African Americans. As “undesirable” and “less than.” This redlining stole millions maybe even billions of dollars from the wealth of African Americans and the effects are still being felt today. So it baffles me why anyone with melanin in their skin would support the negative narratives being pushed on tv.
Then turn around and be surprised when an African American couple’s house is appraised for tens of thousands of dollars under value. Or when you find out that a major financial institution has been charging higher mortgage rates to African Americans.
Make it make sense!
By now I am sure I have lost many of you, but that needed to be said. Now on to the other side of the fork in the road.
The side of the road that is all about moving forward!
Want to know why I love history? It is because history always repeats itself. There are also answers in history. Right now we are in a repeat of history. There are people trying to take our voting rights away (unconstitutional redistricting), make it harder to vote (id laws), erasing our written history (removal of books), or blatantly changing words of American history to turn that history into a lie (Enslaved changed to workers), creating programs to take children out of majority black and brown schools (which means less funding for schools that need it the most), creating food and financial deserts (attacking health as well as wealth), gentrification (the new urban renewal), and much more.
Now you see why I love history. It is because the tactics are not new. They are just given a new name. The problem is that we not only have to recognize the attack we must also plan our counterattack and execute on that counterattack.
We have to get back to putting education at the forefront of our homes and our communities. Helping children understand that it is not cool to be dumb and nerds are the ones who become future millionaires. It is time to go old school with education where our children do spelling tests weekly throughout elementary school because that is the only way they are going to grow their vocabulary and excel on end of grade tests.
Make everything about numbers. From counting change at the store to understanding how a raise in interest rates with the federal reserve will make buying a car more expensive. Numbers are all around us and we can teach addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division any time of the day.
Going to college is still essential and many careers still require a degree. What is not essential is going into tens of thousands of dollars in debt for college. In order to avoid graduating with a mountain of debt, African American children should start applying for college scholarships and grants as early as elementary school. Also when a child reaches ninth grader they should start researching what college they want to attend and the price of that college.
From there, start finding the money to pay for it. Here is a bonus tip: no college is worth $40,000, $50,000, $75,000 a year. NONE! I don’t care what the name of the college is and if you are a parent/guardian that lets your child go to a college with that price tag don’t ever wonder why they can’t participate in the economy after graduation. It is because you let them go into tens of thousands of dollars in debt instead of telling them the word “no.”
Excellence in education is in our blood! Mary McLeod Bethune, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Ida B. Wells, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Inez Beverly Prosser, and many more.
Time to tap back into unlimited knowledge.
My mother and her family lived in the country which means there were no apartment buildings around. That meant that they and those in their community helped each other build their own homes. Many African Americans built their own homes in the past, but those homes were destroyed in the name of “urban renewal” and those African Americans were forced into slum housing projects. Because my mother lived in the country that did not happen to them.
Home ownership is key to building wealth. Homes are one investment that for the most part goes up in value. Houses and land create generational wealth. The denial of both to African Americans in the past has led to an explosion in the racial wealth gap.
The counterattack is to first and foremost to prepare financially. The goal before buying a home is to save up at least 20 percent for a downpayment. Twenty percent makes qualifying for a mortgage a lot easier. In order to save up this amount it is going to take some financial discipline.
It is going to take you giving up in the short term some “wants” like going out to eat, going on vacations, buying clothes, getting your nails done, etc. When I was paying off the $50,000 of debt in two years I gave up all of this and more so I know it can be done. If you feel like that is too much of a sacrifice you have to ask yourself “do I really want a house?”
Another tactic in this counterattack is to keep possession of what is already ours. If in your family there is land and/or houses make sure that all of it stays in your possession. There must be a “whatever it takes” type of attitude when it comes to this. If the house or land is paid for and all that it cost is the taxes each year then find a way to pay the taxes. If there needs to be upkeep each year then find a way as a family to create a fund for that purpose.
“Whatever it takes.”
Historically, land and property was taken from African Americans or worse, destroyed. Today the issue is financially affording it or keeping what is already in our possession.
We have the power to fix both problems and move forward from where our ancestors left off.
Health is wealth so of course health is a part of the counterattack. I could go into how chemical and industrial plants were and are built in majority black neighborhoods leading to unhealthy conditions, but that would take an entire day to talk about that atrocity. Instead let’s talk about what is more in our control.
Before I go any further let me go ahead and put it out there that I am not the most healthy person despite my slim frame. My health is a work in progress. LOL. What I do know is that heart disease is the number one cause of death in blacks. Diabetes and high blood pressure is prevalent as well. Of course death is what sticks out the most when talking about health issues, but what is not talk about is the cost.
Having multiple health complications can bankrupt you. Someone with high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes could easily have eight medications and 2-3 doctor appointments per month. That could run someone even with good insurance $300 or more a month. Develop metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, etc) in your forties and that is forty plus years of high medical costs.
It is hard to build wealth that way.
In order to tackle this problem healthier eating and exercise is necessary. Now those in the medical profession don’t kill me for what I am about to say. I just know that for most black Americans we have to take these changes slow especially for those who don’t currently have any health issues, but still need to start making changes.
We all know that our parents grew up on the hog, cow, chicken, deer, other meat that shall remain unnamed, collards, cake, pie, lard, butter, and much more “unhealthy food.” The difference is that they grew their own food or the food did not have as much of the “extras” we have today. Those “extras” we have today to preserve food is unhealthy and can lead to future health problems. Our parents and grandparents also walked a lot and did strenuous chores such as working on a farm or walking miles to get food or items for the home. So whatever they ate they worked it off in a few hours. No wonder they lived to their eighties and nineties plus.
In order to get back close to where they were we have to make some adjustments. The food we get from the grocery store already has enough “extras” in it even the vegetables, we don’t have to add more. Most foods already have enough salt we don’t need to add a tablespoon more when the food gets on our plates. LOL. Another option is cutting back on sugar. Instead of five sodas a week, how about two sodas a week?
I have cut back on the amount of frappucinos I drink because they are loaded with sugar. The reason I talked about salt and sugar intake is because they are the leading cause of high blood pressure (leads to strokes) and high blood sugar (leads to diabetes). These are two outcomes you do not want.
The other strategy is of course exercise. You don’t have to become a marathon runner or bodybuilder, but maybe doing thirty minutes of exercise a day. Could be walking, running, or jumping jacks. The goal is to get the body moving.
When it is time for it all to be over here on this side of heaven please make sure you have life insurance so that your family can pay what you owe, have money to bury you, and most importantly have money left over that they can continue to build wealth with going forward.
Positions of Power:
The C-Suite comprises of only 12% of black people and there are only eight black CEO’s at Fortune 500 companies. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be ridiculous. In order to build wealth African Americans need to move up in the “pay” and “salary” ranges. The only way to do that is to make it a little more equitable in the management positions and the c-suite as a whole. What this does is make sure that more African Americans (many who are over qualified, but looked over in the past) are promoted to higher paying positions that allow them to save more money and build wealth.
Outside of employer sponsored retirement plans only 34% of African Americans invest. So if employers did not offer retirement plans then 7 out of 10 African Americans would not be building wealth through investing.
That is a problem.
In the past it was hard for African Americans to invest because of lack of discretionary income. Today that is less of an issue. The issue today is execution and what that means is that as black Americans we have to slow down our lives. Slow down our lives so that we can concentrate on our future.
Ask ourselves the questions “What type of life do I want to live in retirement?” “How much money do I want to have to spend each month?” “How much money do I want to leave behind for my family or charities?’
Then once you have those answers it is time to find a trusted financial advisor to put your plan into place. There are no more excuses because you can open an investment account for FREE!
There is power in voting. PERIOD! If there wasn’t any power in voting or having a voice in government why in the world for the last century have people been trying to take the vote away from black Americans? Just look at Reconstruction. When African Americans gained “too much” political power the Ku Klux Klan made it their mission to kill as many black people as possible to discourage them from making their voices heard.
Politics in the past as well as the present have meant life or death.
Fugitive Slave Act was passed in congress.
Jim Crow LAWS were passed.
Literacy Tests for Voting was passed.
Poll Taxes was passed.
Lynching Law was passed.
Stand Your Ground Law was passed.
AND THE LIST GOES ON!!!
Today let’s be completely clear.
POLITICS AFFECTS YOUR MONEY!
One more time for the people in the back.
POLITICS AFFECTS YOUR MONEY!
Just in recent years laws passed on a local, state, and federal level have made it harder financially for limited and middle income households. For example the child tax credit which when in effect cut childhood poverty in half within a year, but lawmakers thought cutting childhood poverty was a bad thing so they took it away.
But, guess who fault that was? Not theirs, because if people would have come out and voted for the party that wanted to keep the child tax credit in place (democrats) then you know what?
It would still be in place.
Understand that it is not about political party, it is about what is right. What is best for you and your family. That child tax credit was best for millions of families.
POINT. BLANK. PERIOD!
Black Americans can’t afford not to vote in every election. Don’t listen to the naysayers that say voting doesn’t matter or those that say ignorant sentences such as “voting for the lesser of two evils.”
I’m sure the 335,000 lives that could have been saved during covid if competent leadership was in place would beg to differ with that statement. That is 335,000 families who today are without a loved one.
These are just a few of the counterattacks that can help black Americans move forward towards a more prosperous life. There are many more, but these should get you started. If you are a black American reading this it is up to you to take the next step.
Our ancestors started it and now it is our time to finish it.
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