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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Waits

What can YOU do to close the wealth gap?/with

f you were lovely enough to meet me while I was homecoming queen at my undergrad institution you would know that my campaign involved increasing the amount of financial wellness resources for students on and off campus. I come from new money, my dad is a high level exec who struck it big in the 80s by being one of the few people in America who knew how to work a computer. But I also come from a patriarchal, Christian household. So when my parents divorced when I was a 11 and I lived with my mom full time - we were impoverished. Couch surfing, EBT having, car sleeping, struggle meal eatin’, nasty landlords with nasty properties - and unfortunately we are still there. With my mother being unmarried, houseless, the emotional punching bag of two kids, carless, and jobless she went from being high above the poverty line to far below it. What class can you take, what book can you read to dig yourself out of a situation like that?

Not to mention, Black folks in America have strategically been kept from wealth building oppourtunities since the transatlantic slave trade. From being counted as property and not being afforded voting, bodily, mental, or physical agency by law; to discriminatory banking practices; and obstacles with accumulating credit. Financial Literacy is yet one tactic when employed in conjunction with systematic changes in the banking industry that can help to strengthen familial and long term wealth opportunities for Black Americans.This article, written by Rachel Christian works to distinguish how the financial knowledge gap negatively affects Black families in America and look at what Black financial experts are already doing to close it.

This article left no statistic untyped. Any and all evidence to show that Black folks are indeed down bad on all 8 areas of financial literacy (earning, cnosuming, saving, investing, borrowing, insurance, comrehending rish, recognizing trustworthy sources); familial wealth; pay gaps, hiring discrimination; and having poor credit. The only thing we are actually in front of White folks seems to be life insurance but mostly policies under 50K. It looks so succint when typed into a run on sentence but working through these obstacles causes many Black folk to lose hope in ever gaining understanding of their finances.

So what do the article’s Black financial experts recommend? Gonzalez presents a pretty vanilla way out of poverty: read more and have more conversations surrounding financial well -being. These "resolutions" feel like luke warm lifestyle advice at best and the money speech every Dad gives their kid at worst. If you are born into poverty you won't have any positive wealth building habits to build upon. My mom was lucky enough to have a rich husband who trusted her with enough money to use it for the benefit of our family. But she was just doing what she knew. As the first woman in her entire family to graduate college she always had to figure things out on her own. Not everyone has generations of resources in their family to make these conversations happen. If no one in your family has ever had a bank account, how will you know that you should make one? Grandmothers, uncles, sisters for generations that live in poverty. No amount of reading or googling will pull you out of that.

The second point of that ‘solution’ aka looking up things on google relies on folks to use the internet. However not everyone has access to reliable internet and lots of folks regardless of race and age do not understand and adopt a system of fact checking. According to the Joint Center, In the United States, 34% of Black adults do not have home broadband,1 and 30.6% of Black households with one or more children age 17 or younger lack high-speed home internet (over 3.25 million Black children live in these households). While 23% of African Americans are “smartphone-only” internet users, mobile subscriptions have more restrictive data caps and pose challenges in completing tasks like homework and job applications. Black people don't need more conversations. They need more money.

The key to happiness for Black folks financially is to be paid back for the generations of being set back that ya know building a whole empire for free does to your community. Being paid the same as what white men make. Not being discriminated against for our hair, clothing, and ways we communicate in the workplace. But let’s start with reparations. California has begun a task force under the attorney general that surveys the ongoing and compounding harms experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery and its lingering effects on American society today. This task force uses tax dollars to pay back Black folks and give them that leg up. Donald Glover visualized a world where White folks lose their middle and upper class status spending millions to pay back Black families that they owned throughout history in his show, Atlanta. The way we do things must change to free all Black folks whose ancestors were slaves in America from generational poverty. A revolution is really the only way to shake up the tradition of discriminating against non Whites especially Black folks. But in the meantime we gon do what we need to.

In the near future financial wellness courses as well as sexual education and college prep courses should be made free and available to all citizens of the unitds states regardless of age. We can hope there are some teachers out there teaching their classes how to balance a check. Advocate to your local representatives to vote for bills that will bring educational vibrance to your communities’ curriculum. ’ Ask your local bank what specialized programs they have for Black people. Create a free financial wellness pamphlet and pass it out. Do. Something. Especially if you are not Black. Sorry to break it to you. Black folks make up less than 14% of the United States. We need others to elevate our voices, follow our lead, and revolutionize others around them. Start making some change instead of reading about it.

Additionally, while the world bank and American currency continues to crumble now more than ever would be a great time to take advantage of some free resources. Checking out your home institution is a great tip courtesy of tBrandy Baxter, “an accredited financial counselor and founder of Living Abundantly Coaching and Counseling in Dallas,” If you do not have a bank account I recommend Chime for a first one. They have lots of visual resources. A free financial advisor is a little harder to come by. You might need to save up some coin or go through a non profit organization to meet with an expert. You will have to search far and wide for a Black expert though since less than 2 percent of financial advisors are Black. Data surrounding the slim pickings for Black folk are also too damn little to talk about so that needs an energy boost as well.

Who are Black financial experts you follow, support, or have heard great advice from? Drop their info in the comments!

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