One of the greatest rewards of publishing BLACK ENTERPRISE is the opportunity to move our readers and subscribers from focusing on all of the reasons why something can’t be done, to believing that all worthwhile things are possible. This simple difference in mindset is the razor’s edge between success or failure, wealth or poverty, dreams realized or perpetually deferred. The core of the BE mission is to convince you that, yes, you can do it. The information, advice, and resources we provide to help you reach your business, professional, and wealth-building goals — whether in the pages of our magazine, on blackenterprise.com, or via our television and radio properties — become just so much trivia if you do not believe that those goals are achievable to begin with.
This is the point of our Own Your First Home Contest, which we announced in August 2005, our 35th Anniversary issue of BE. We want to get people to believe that homeownership is indeed possible for them, explore the possibility of buying a home, and take the actions necessary to make it happen instead of surrendering to the idea that homeownership is beyond their reach. Nearly 1,000 individuals and families from across the country entered our contest. It doesn’t matter that only one of the contest entrants would win the grand prize of $10,000 toward the down payment on a new home. That prize was just an incentive to get you to pursue the real reward of entering the contest: becoming the proud owner of your first home. By that measure, the contest has already produced hundreds of winners. And judging from the contest entry forms and essays, there will be hundreds more winners in 2006.
The process of searching and qualifying for a mortgage and finding the right home can seem daunting. But ask any new homeowner: The day you close on your mortgage (signing your name more times than you can count) and are handed the keys to your house — that’s right, your house — is a day you will never forget. I still remember the day my father moved our family into our first home, working several jobs to make it happen. And I remember the elation of the families I helped get into their first homes as a young real estate salesman in Brooklyn assisting people who would struggle with multiple jobs and multiple mortgages because homeownership was just that important. This same heady feeling of pride, accomplishment, determination, and hope for the future was expressed by our grand prize winners, James and Kimberly Papillion, as they took me on a tour of their brand new home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As a reader of BE, you know that our mission is to close the wealth gap between black and white households, and that increasing rates of homeownership — the primary source of wealth for most Americans — among African Americans is critical to achieving that objective. However, buying a home is not only about the acquisition of a significant asset. It’s also about laying