Blacks & Money (CNN commentary)

Oct 26, 2010 @ 10:17 am | By TheFeministGriote | 2 Comments

“I still have a poor person’s mentality. I can’t shake it, and it gets really detrimental when you can’t just shake off the ideas. It’s like when I go to sleep at night, right now, I’m as financially nervous as I was 20 years ago…”-Will Smith from his May 17,2010 appearance on the Oprah show.

On Thursday October 21 CNN aired the third installment in their Black in America series. The documentary focused primarily on the relationship that Blacks in America have with money. Although, Blacks have acquired the semblance of wealth there is still a $75,000 wealth gap between Blacks and whites in America. Of course slavery has a great deal to do with our the wealth gap we were not able to build wealth and pass it on to future generations as whites were able to do. Therefore, each generation of Blacks had to start from scratch and that makes it hard to play catch up with our white counterparts. The documentary also highlighted the relationship between faith and our finances. Which I found to be a very interesting dichotomy. Religion plays a big role in the lives of Blacks we are considered the most religious group in America, but I can’t help but to feel that the gospel of the ‘purse’ is what keeps many of us in bondage.

I can’t remember how many times I have heard a sermon on prosperity not spiritual prosperity, not emotional prosperity, nor prosperity within our health. The prosperity that I hear far too often is the checkbook prosperity. So many times I have heard a Black minister tell his flock that as believers and kingdom people we must practice being rich here on earth not wait to walk on the streets of gold in heaven. I am a believer, but I don’t think that because I am a christian that I should squander and mismanage my funds and wait on God my celestial bellhop to clean up my money messes.  As I watched the documentary it appears that was the overarching theme that was being communicated throughout the piece spend your money recklessly now and pray for deliverance later! Truth is slavery gave Black America a late start, but we are in the race now and we cannot continue to do what we have always done nor can we continue to Blame slavery or capitalism.  If we do not seek economic education before our incomes and lifestyles change we will forever be in danger of sabotaging our own selves financially. How many of our Black stars have died penniless after being at the top of their craft? There is far too many to even list.

As Blacks in America we must change our mindsets when it comes to money. This American culture that we are in is rooted in debt and consumerism, but that doesn’t mean that we personally must adopt that reckless spending mentality in our daily lives. Blacks are more prone to predatory bank loans, on every corner of a predominately Black neighborhood there is a pay day loan store, or a pawn shop. All of those things represent how Black people are purposely targeted for financial ruin!!! We have to learn to think critically when it comes to our money. I personally know people who buy a car the minute they satisfy an existing car loan, add thousands of expensive gadgets on a car that doesn’t add any value to it because although, a car is necessary and often times crucial if you live in a place like Miami there is no escaping that a car is a depreciating asset and adding TVs and rims does nothing for the blue book value. We need to think smarter about our money and think about leaving inheritances for our children other than bad credit.

We must break the cycle of poverty that keeps us mentally and sometimes physically imprisoned. As people of color we have so much access to wealth building, but if we do not seek to unlearn the mis-education we have surrounding money we will always be behind everyone else. Being Black in America doesn’t have to be a perpetual depressed state of being. We cannot control racism, but we can control our spending, saving, and hopefully work towards ending poverty.

What do you think? Why do you think Black people have a toxic relationship with money?

Categories: Mind Over Chatter

2 Responses to “ Blacks & Money (CNN commentary) ”

  1. kareem altidor | October 28, 2010 6:18 pm

    The reason many people of color lack monetary restraints is because of depreciating education endavors. Many people of color today probably don’t know their buying power, let alone the real case for so many of our predecessors for wanting black supremacy. Often at times like I have done, many people consistently blame lack of education. To some extent that is not the only reason why a few people of color lack spending capabilities. I think it has to do with being and always seeing oneself as the perpetual victim. If one ascribe to a status, then people will treat you as such.

  2. Rosanna Rios | November 8, 2010 4:29 pm

    Thank you for your well written and informed blogs, i just came across them today and really enjoy reading them. As for this blog, I can only comment from my perspective as a first generation Chicana (Mexican mother, mixed race father) growing up poor and being moved a lot between family and some foster care but always having very loving and caring parents who did their very best with me and my sisters. I would say that money has always been in the FOREFRONT of our minds. even as a little girl I was very aware of money issues. I held on to my quaters and dollars and was always paranoid about spending it on the wrong thing.

    I would say some of our (my community) problems with achieving financial success have some to do with education. I was unaware that college was an option for me until my 2nd year in high school. My parents then informed me when i asked that they had not saved money for my college tuition and that i would have to rely on scholarships and federal grants. Well, i did get a few scholarships and grant money but not enough to attend any college besides my local community college. and what did i do with that money?? I paid my bills, bought a cheap car and spent the rest on who knows what. The point is, I didnt understand that my priority should have been education because growing up i learned Priority #1 is paying your bills on time or you get your lights shut off and kicked out of your apt…Its still a mentality I hold today…its a hard one to break.

    The main money messge my parents drilled into me was “dont get a credit card no matter what”. the results are mixed: Im not in any debt. However, I dont have any credit at all and If i had debt or credit i wouldnt know how to manage it.

    Young Latino/as, especially recent immigrants and first generations, are likely to carry thier parents distrust of American financial practices like banks, loans, credit cards, etc and dont really learn how to manage money for the bigger picture- just immidate needs like food, bills etc. I would say that more attention needs to be paid to teaching my community about money managment and these financial institutions need more biigual services that cater to my community as well. Colleges also need to reach out because I know there aren’t many of us in college or able to afford it.

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