BlackEnterprise.com: What are some of the dangers of wealth inequality that you feel are contributing to the persistent wealth gap in African American communities?
Collins: Too much wealth in too few hands undermines opportunity for others to build wealth. Â It exacerbates the wealth gap in African American communities. For example, those with wealth are bidding up the cost of housing in many communities, pushing it out of reach for first-time homebuyers.
How has wealth inequality contributed to wealth building efforts in the black community?
Growing wealth inequality at the top, among the 1%, has undermined wealth-building in the black community. The median net worth for blacks has declined since 2008, while wealth concentration at the top has accelerated. Â The rules of the economy — taxes, trade, public expenditures—have been tilted in favor of existing wealth holders at the expense of those trying to build wealth.
There are two blacks on the Forbes 400: Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith. What are your thoughts on ways in which they should address income inequality in their community? What are some tangible solutions to the problem?Â
I know that Oprah Winfrey is very concerned about these issues of wealth inequality – and is actively investing in black enterprises. We need more of the Forbes 400 to bring their wealth home, back to local communities. Â Instead of chasing speculative financial returns around the planet, our billionaires should steer capital to the many worthy businesses seeking capital and angel investors.
How vital is closing the wealth inequality gap to the economic security of the country, especially considering minorities will become the majority population in a few years?
Wealth inequality fuels economic instability. The economic meltdown of 2008, fueled by unequal wages and assets, wiped out wealth for blacks and Latinos whose net worth was primarily in home ownership. Â It is vital to reduce the over concentration of wealth at the top and invest in education, infrastructure, and small businesses, which are the job creators and engines in our communities.