Does the American Dream exist in Black America or is it folklore as real as the Easter bunny? 6 out of 500, which is a measly 1.2%, of the Fortune 500 companies have a black CEO. CNN Money says “The United States government has a black chief executive, but 99% of the nation’s largest businesses do not”. Only 7 out of 1342 of the World’s Billionaires are black and of those 7, 1 is from the US and 1 is a woman and that just so happens to be the same person. So why is it that blacks are the fiercest competitors when it comes to athletics, but when it comes to the accumulation of wealth we are nowhere to be found?
Lack of a Philosophy
Have you ever heard the saying “what you focus on grows?” Well if a person’s thoughts and words consisted of “Money can’t buy me happiness” and “Money is the root of all evil,” what would you expect their bank accounts to look like? If the “power of life and death lies in the tongue” and if you “ask and shall receive” hold to be true, then we are getting exactly what we ask for and what we have focused on be it consciously or subconsciously. We have to change our philosophy towards money. Just think if money was the root of all evil why are our churches, schools, and organizations like the Red Cross always asking for it? Money is a necessity and a tool.
Lack of a Plan
“A Failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Everything that succeeds in life has a plan. Successful businesses have business plans, builders have blueprints (building plans), pilots have flight plans, teachers have lesson plans, and the wealthy have financial plans. Most people spend more time planning a party or a vacation than they do on planning their financial future. We just wing life and ignore that when we have children they are going to have milestones in life. Our children at some point are going to need braces, go on prom, go to college, and get married. Being full of these things we know that the time is coming however we never prepare and are one emergency from financial ruin.
Lack of Ownership
We fully grasp the concept that it is better to own a home than it is to rent an apartment but we dropped the ball in the area of business ownership. We spend billions of dollars on clothes, electronics, hair care products, and sporting events but we don’t own any of the companies? Black women spend billions on hair and hair care products yet all of the beauty supply shops are owned by foreigners. That is wealth that is leaving our community and being used to build someone else’s. We celebrate the huge million-dollar contracts and endorsements our athletes get but who owns the team, who is writing the check?
Lack of Vision
Don’t let me forget about Corporate America. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Everyone wants a good-paying job and because most lack one we say we are going to make sure things are different for our children but we program our children with the same thing our parents programmed us with, “go to school and get a good education so that someday you can get a good-paying job.” No one ever talked about go to school and get a good education so you can start your own company and employ people of the community, or so you can take over and grow the family business. We don’t have to willingly accept consistently being the ethnic group with the highest level of unemployment, nor do we have to accept being highly skilled, yet hold positions that don’t pay a respectable wage because we get passed up for promotions.
Lack of Self-reliance
We can no longer afford to be waiting for superman to swoop in and save us with an opportunity. We must save ourselves and create our own opportunities through entrepreneurship. I heard someone ask the question “how is it that administrators want us to believe that the black youth can’t grasp simple math concepts, but they can convert grams to dollars on the street corner without calculators?” We must save our young black entrepreneurs and encourage them to start businesses so that they can have ownership.
Today countless college graduates have amassed large sums of debt by way of student loans and cannot land a job to put a minor dent in the loan balance. Let me ask you this rhetorical question, If you go to college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree which you collected student loan debt totaling $30000, but land a job working at Wal-Mart paying minimum wage. What are your chances of obtaining homeownership? Furthermore, the solution we are given to our money problems by our peers and society is to go to graduate school and rack up another $30000 of debt, because maybe then you can land a better paying job. If you follow this plan and this logic you will be in debt forever and you will be in a position where you will NEVER be able to retire and you will be working until the end of your days. This is what is happening every day in America, the land of opportunity, the land where there is supposed to be an American dream. Unless we change the tradition in black America from getting a “good job” to business ownership, we will find ourselves in the lower-class forever. If we are to improve our lives I would recommend the following:
1) Make education/learning an ongoing thing. A degree isn’t a requirement to start a business. There is a wealth of knowledge in libraries, on the internet, and within the community that you can utilize.
2) Change the goal of school from going to school to get a good job to going to school to learn additional skills to help start or run your own company.
3) Get rid of the philosophy that money can’t buy happiness and money is the root of all evil. You have to have a goal to become wealthy or financially independent in order to make money. What you focus on grows. Money isn’t evil people are. Money makes good people better and bad people worse.
4) Save and Invest. Pay yourself first. If you don’t pay yourself first you are subconsciously saying to yourself that you do not respect you and that you think your bills are more important than you. Most people spend more time planning for a vacation than they do planning for retirement. It’s no wonder all the seniors are working at Wal-Mart. It’s not because they are bored. They retired but didn’t save for retirement and need the income to supplement their income because social security is basically non-existent.
5) Most people don’t understand the importance of business ownership. Most people know it’s better to own a home than it is to rent an apartment, however they don’t see the parallel between working a job and owning a business. Business Ownership is a vehicle you can use to transfer wealth. What do I mean? Lets say I own a construction company that generates $100,000 per year. Once I pass away and leave my business to my son, the moment I pass my business to my son he now makes $100,000 per year. But with a job once I die that income stops. I cannot pass the job to my son and if the company decides to hire him they will tell him that he lacks experience and will pay him $30,000 per year robbing my family of $70,000 of income.
Overall there are a number of issues and reasons why Black America as a whole is not as financially successful as we should be. I feel like the most important reason is the lack of business ownership. We have to change our focus from being followers to leaders in business.