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I was once teaching a class of high school boys how race plays out in our financial experience.Â To make the point, Â I had a White Jewish boy, a black Haitian boy, and an African American boy come to the front of the room.
I asked the class who they thought would get a better deal if they walked into a car dealership.Â Immediately, the class echoed that the Jewish boy would get the best deal.Â When I asked why, they said because ‘he’s smart about money.’Â A car dealer would not try to “get overâ€ on him.
As I was about to use their comments to launch into a discussion about how blacks get higher rates for cars, loans, etc. because of the stereotype the class just described, another boy said he would also give a good deal to the Haitian boy because he probably had more savings than the African American boy. “‘Those people’ come to this country, get good jobs and save their money,â€ he said.
This launched the class into a lively debate about the financial characteristics of ‘the different flavors of black’ people in our society.Â Â It was fascinating to hear the young men discuss the different behaviors,Â patterns, and practices woven into the colorful tapestry of black in this country, a discussion that gets lost in the background due to the ways in which Americans like to simplify race by making it a matter of black and white.
According to a study by Pew Research, there are 3.8 million black immigrants living in the United States, and their share of the black population is projected to rise from 9% to 16% by 2060.Â In addition, black immigrants are doing better economically than blacks born in the U.S.Â Household incomes for foreign-born blacks are, on average, $10,000 higher than U.S.-born blacks. And black immigrants are less likely to live in poverty (20% vs. 28%).
The ‘different flavors of black in the U.S.’ are largely ignored by many who provide financial services and products. It’s unlikely that the car dealer I used in my example and that the students imagined so vividly would differentiate much between the Haitian young man and the African American young man when they came looking for a car.
Blackenterprise.com spoke with Dr. Tracey Laszloffy, a licensed marriage and family therapist and an expert in race relations about this issue.
BlackEnterprise.com: What are some of the dangers of ignoring the different cultures within black America from a social standpoint, and what are the dangers to individuals?
Race is a social construction, but because we have all socially conspired to treat it as if it is a biological reality, a very real social structure exists that creates very different realities and access to resources and power,
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