What Are You Doing?

Kenneth Harper | September 14th, 2015
Kenneth Harper (Photo by Howard Gaither)

Kenneth Harper (Photo by Howard Gaither)

Wake up! Many in the African- American community do not realize they embody a free democratic capitalistic society. They have not grasped their own cognitive power of the benefits of a free enterprise system. Therefore, many remain only consumer-focused. Others throughout the African-American community remain adverse towards risk and investment. This is sad because there are missed opportunities that will be loss because time, nor compound interest stops for no one. Individuals engaging in this poor behavior; poor meaning (passing over opportunities repeatedly) fail to comprehend the power of financial literacy.
Moreover, this slumber will have long-term effects on their quality of life and the lives of those who depend on them. In Proverbs 1:5 AMP it reads, “The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly]”. In his book “50 Economics Ideas You Really Need to Know” Edmund Conway describes capitalism as a mongrel system.
Capitalism is the system where capital (the companies, equipment and structures used for producing goods and services) is owned not by the state but by private individuals. This means it is the public who owns companies- taking stakes in them by buying shares, or lending them money in exchange for bonds.
Interestingly, the author, Conway further delves into the evolution of capitalism by exposing how the Europeans discovered lucrative resources in the Americas. It brought extreme wealth to the operators of these routes, and for the first time in history, ordinary people started making money in their own right, rather than relying on the patronage of a rich monarch or aristocrat. Moreover, he fails to mention however the accumulation of this great wealth was built by the blood, sweat and tears of millions of slaves, brought to America against their will.
It would still be hundreds of years before African-Americans would engage freely in capitalism or wealth accumulation. I call this the financial literary gap of time, especially for people of color. That time gap has been and still is costly to our community because today we now have access to all the instruments needed to build wealth. However, many are focused more on TV shows like, “Love & Hip Hop” and “Empire”, trying to live that type of lifestyle than building a legacy for the long-term.
Those hundreds of years denied African-Americans the rights to work for the gain of wealth, build businesses we owned, invest and participate in free markets, because we were captive. It also forged a lack of transparency needed to understand how to engage in capitalism. So instead of wealth transfer for the next generation, African-Americans experienced the transfer of disparity and lack of knowledge, and fewer assets that would be given to the next generation.
Two components that harness the power of sustainability are “quality of life” and “capital.” This transfer has helped in creating a wealth gap of inequality. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fierce struggle for African-Americans would finally yield the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The bill was signed by President Lyndon B Johnson, a landmark piece of civil rights legislation. This bill of rights still was not enough for many of the movement. The SCLC leadership in 1968 drafted a letter demanding “an economic and social bill of Rights”, that would promise all citizens the right to a job, the right to an adequate education, and the right to a decent house among others.
Today, we can say that many have achieved the latter. However, there is a long-haul yet to come if we are going to begin to close the wealth gap in America. This is no small feat, for some of the same reasons that many have tried hundreds of years ago. Many did not want African- Americans to gain financial independence. This is why it is imperative to wake up to the opportunities of business development, creating jobs by becoming entrepreneurs, investing in your 401k, owning stocks, mutual funds, annuities, and life insurance.
By fostering relationships with financial advisors, CPA’s and accountants, and attorneys you can create your own will and trust to protect everything you own. Also, it’s always ideal to learn concepts and strategies that minimize your tax burden. Many of these options mentioned are combined with features such as tax-deferred growth, compounded interest, and some provide a tax-free option during retirement.

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