From wealth to diversity, our editors offer an action plan

Black America needs fixing.

buying 22-inch rims today, would the marketplace go sour? If the answer is yes, then that’s a measure of spending power.

Over the last 35 years, BE has advocated economic reciprocity and covered the consumer initiatives of civil rights organizations on the pages of our magazine. Now, it’s up to us to continue what our forefathers started by playing small but significant roles in gaining economic and financial parity. For instance, African Americans are among the biggest customers of the $5.6 billion convention industry, which includes money spent on hotels, food, and shopping. When an organization like The National Baptist Convention USA Inc., with 8 million-plus members, books a conference, it has the financial clout to get free meeting spaces, hotel rooms, shuttle service, and other bargains. But we must demand that hotels, convention centers, and prospective host cities employ African Americans and contract with local black-owned businesses.

Secondly, we must purchase products and services from as well as invest in black-owned businesses — from local chicken shacks to the BE 100S. In fact, you can invest directly in the mutual funds run by the mone
y management firms found on the BE ASSET MANAGERS list.

By “buying black,” we’re not just pumping dollars into black businesses as a moral exercise, we’re recycling dollars. At a BE-sponsored Town Hall Meeting, CNN anchor Valerie Morris said African Americans recycle dollars once in their community as opposed to several times for other ethnic groups. Let me break this down: If you get your car fixed by a black mechanic and pay $75, that money has been recycled. They’ll use it to pay their employees and if those workers, in turn, spend their money at black businesses, the process continues. That’s how Jewish people and Asians do it. They make a commitment to reinvest in their communities.

Lastly, if you want to increase your clout, own something — whether it’s a business, home, land, or securities. If you don’t own one or all of these assets, you’re not using your buying power effectively. The key to ownership is that it increases leverage. For example, if you decide to invest in real estate, buy a dilapidated property in an up-and-coming neighborhood and eventually, when Wal-Mart and Starbucks come to town, you’ll see the value of your property increase exponentially. After the value of that property increases, use the equity to acquire yet another property. Continue that trend and watch your money grow.

It all comes down to education and commitment. Once you become an empowered consumer and a smart investor, you’ll never look at your paycheck on Friday the same way. — Tanisha A. Sykes

OUR READERS RESPOND: As a consumer, what would you like to learn more about?

  • How to negotiate a great deal: 44.7%
  • How to research products & services: 30.5%
  • How to find the best prices: 39.2%
  • How to get out of a bad deal: 17.7%

I remember as a young boy, my father would send me to the local Jewish butcher to purchase fresh meat and other groceries. I was one of 11 children

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