By Nyesha Stone
Last year, rapper Jay-Z released an album entitled “4:44,” in which he taught financial literacy through his verses. Jay-Z came from nothing and he’s grown to learn how to accumulate wealth, something the average person isn’t taught how to do.
Most Black children attend public schools in neighborhoods that don’t have the best resources, which shows by the type of education those children receive. By the time an average Black student graduates from high school they won’t know how to do their taxes, they don’t know what credit is or how to build it, and they don’t understand the concept of wealth.
It’s time for our children, and the entire Black community to re-educate ourselves on Black Generational Wealth.
But, what does it mean to have Black Generational Wealth? Well, let’s start by taking the black off, and just focus on generational wealth.
Wealth isn’t just money, it’s everything you own such as land or a business, and the average Black person doesn’t own those things.
But, now let’s add on the generational. Generational wealth is at least one family member being able to pass down wealth (i.e. a business) to a younger member of the family, and over time that wealth increases, if done correctly.
And, finally, we add on the Black to generational wealth because this is something the Black community doesn’t usually have. We aren’t taught how to accumulate wealth, and we aren’t taught how to keep that wealth to be able to pass it down to future generations.
President of NAACP Milwaukee Fred Royal says it’s not just that our community is uneducated, but it also starts with our past.
One of the biggest assets to own in America is a home, and it’s written in our history that Black people were blocked from moving to certain areas: redlining, which made it so the Black community had to live in the poorer neighborhoods, meaning their homes never increased in value.
Royal also added, back in the 1950s-60s, the Black community wasn’t focused on saving or starting a business because their main goal was to own a home. When a home is passed down that doesn’t have much value to it then little to no wealth has been transferred.
Royal says the city needs to increase housing credits and we also need to take some responsibility for our positions in life.
“We have to do this collectively. Everybody has a role to play in this,” said Royal. “And, we gotta [sic] have the expectation that we have to support our own businesses.”
There’s an assumption in the Black community that Black people don’t support other Black people, but if we want to start progressing economically than we must pull our money together, said President & CEO of The Center for Self Sufficiency, Carl Wesley.
Wesley says sometimes for Black businesses to stay afloat they must raise their prices, and this turns the Black community away.
“Buy Black even though it’s against your economic interest,” he said.
But going back to our children not being taught financial literacy, Wesley believes these types of conversations need to be held at the dinner table. If we want to start accumulating wealth than we must start as early as we can, and that starts with our children.
Just like many issues it all starts with educating oneself, and others. Bill 280 was established last year to incorporate financial literacy into the curriculum of all Wisconsin public schools, and with more initiatives like this, the younger generation is sure to build their wealth faster and better than generations before them.