This is also a time for renewal. Nostalgia has its place but, true to our tradition, we must forge ahead, conquering the seemingly insurmountable and achieving what others would deem unimaginable. In short, our mission is just beginning. While African Americans have, in general, narrowed the income gap and a select few have gained some of the most powerful positions on the planet—including the presidency of the United States—the wealth divide is not only Grand Canyon-wide but it is expanding. Take a look at recent statistics: According to the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C., think tank, minority households retain 16 cents in wealth for every $1 held by a white household.
Moreover, among individuals earning annual salaries of more than $75,000, African Americans held assets valued at only $18,300 while their white counterparts had assets of $238,400, according to a study by Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy. Homeownership was not a factor in the survey, which defined net worth as assets such as cash, stocks, and bonds minus liabilities such as student loans, credit card debt, and car loans. But, despite our growth in homeownership over the past four decades, African Americans still lag behind whites in that area. U.S. Census Bureau research indicates that as of the fourth quarter of 2009, 74.5% of whites owned homes compared with 46% of African Americans.
Against this backdrop, Black Enterprise will be even more vigilant in providing you the information and services necessary to grow your business, advance in your career, or boost your investment portfolio. To that end, I laid out major tenets that will carry us forward over the next 40 years.
First, multigenerational wealth-building must remain our top priority. The Brandeis study revealed that about 25% of white families inherit money and that they receive, on average, $10,000; on the other hand, less than 8% of black families gained an inheritance, and the average sum was $900. We must commit to passing down wealth to the next generation. For years, I have said that we have to move beyond merely earning money to accumulating wealth through homeownership, saving, and investing. We should use compound interest to our advantage and wisely place our money in vehicles such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds which, over time, will greatly appreciate in value and increase our net worth.
Given the recent economic downturn, it is vital that all of us become more strategic and tenacious in maximizing our dollars. That’s why a year ago I directed our editors to totally revamp our decade-long financial literacy and empowerment program, renaming it “Wealth for Life.” In fact, this year we made it the tagline that drives everything we do at our company. We have designed principles and action plans to enable you to reach your financial goals, regardless of your life stage, income status, or occupation. As a result, we’ll be able to pass on real wealth to our children so they can attend the best schools, develop viable businesses, and strengthen our institutions.