May 8, 2015
Whether you’re comfortable with the topic or not, race and racial injustice has become the elephant in the room (with his fist in the air no less) that we’re no longer able to avoid.
The recent uprising in Baltimore, as well as similar situations that have happened around the country, highlight that communities are fed-up with injustice and are fighting back while demanding to be heard. Police brutality has been the primary focus, as there have been several incidences that have taken place over the past few years that have garnered our attention.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. If you’re inquisitive like me, you’re probably wondering how racial justice fits into a column about personal finances. On the surface it doesn’t, or at least appears not to. But any conversation about racial justice cannot ignore that eliminating economic disparities, including the personal decisions made about money, plays a large part in any justice movement.
As one example, the protests in Ferguson were fueled in part by the powerlessness and generational poverty most likely to be felt by Black residents. The Ferguson protests also drew attention to the growing problem of suburban poverty, where power structures often don’t reflect the changing demographic of the communities and how fragmented municipalities are ill-equipped to deal with the impacts of poverty on residents. Analysis of the economic disparities in Ferguson suggest a need to understand and address community-level factors that can impact the financial condition of residents.
At the individual level, racial differences have been observed when it comes to accumulating wealth. A study recently published by the public policy organization Demos called “Racial Wealth Gap” found that the wealth gap between Blacks and Whites has grown since the Great Recession. Specifically, it found that White households reported to have 17 times the wealth of Black households. While a number of factors have and continue to contribute to this difference, the study points out differences in investment patterns and home ownership. Minority households were less likely to own stocks, whether directly or indirectly through retirement accounts. Also, there was a reported decline in homeownership among minority households.
There is no easy solution to the economic disparities faced by the Black community and other communities of color. But there have been several calls to action to provoke change that have been felt nationwide. At the community level, attention needs to continue to be paid to poverty-stricken communities and ensuring that appropriate resources are made available to residents. Individuals are also urged to seek out information about the laws and policies in their communities and to advocate for changes. At the individual level, soaking up as much information about saving and investing as possible is key!
There are usually opportunities to stash some cash away for a rainy day, or better yet, to invest that cash so that it can multiply.
We’ll delve into topics raised in this article more specifically at a later date, so stay tuned. But as we continue to proclaim that ‘Black Lives Matter!,’ let’s also not forget that what happens with our financial condition matters too and to keep economic equality as a goal worth achieving.
For more information on the suburban poverty report and the wealth gap study, search for them at www.brookings.edu and www.pewresearch.org.
Angela is a researcher/program evaluator by day and crime fighter by night. And by “crime,” she means the perceived inability to turn dreams into reality. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to check us out at www.BrownGirlGreenMoney.com.