It would take 228 years for the average black family wealth to catch up with whites - Here's the truth about that statement
by Dr Boyce Watkins
We've all read that it would take 228 years for the average black family to match the wealth of the average white family. This statement is true under specific conditions.
The truth is that we will NEVER catch up with other communities if we keep the same habits. Catching up in a race makes the bold assumption that you're running faster than the competition. The rate at which wealth leaves the black community contradicts this assumption.
But let's not forget that many black people have more wealth than the average white family. There are millions of black people who start off dirt poor, yet find their way to the top 10% in terms of both income and wealth. While many politicians want us to believe that this is impossible, I can attest as a Finance PhD who has taught wealth to college students for 25 years that the greatest indicator of personal wealth is what you choose to do with the resources you have.
This doesn't mean racism isn't real. I don't ever believe white people are going to love my family as much as I do. But it does imply that the choices we make really matter. But then again, perhaps my parents were teaching me a bunch of nonsense.
Basic things you can do to help your family's economic outcomes are listed below. Please teach these things to your children:
1) Owning a home as soon as you can (not paying rent for your entire life) - Rent is a major wealth killer and contrary to popular belief, there are lots of programs for first time homebuyers with mediocre (even bad) credit. Many of us are never taught how to buy a home (because our schools keep us busy learning how to be good employees) and think that home ownership is only for rich people.
2) Investing the same amount of money in the stock market as we spend on clothes, shoes and fast food: In The Black Business School, we refer to this as "The Matching Principle." Never spend more on wasteful items than you invest in yourself. This means that every time you stop at McDonalds and spend $12.41, try to put the same amount in your stock portfolio. Whenever you buy a $227 pair of Jordans, invest the same amount in Nike stock (or something else).
3) Learn to start businesses early rather than working for someone our entire lives: Even white people who are perpetual employees don't build much wealth. A person should never commit to just one stream of income, this is very, very risky.
Also, avoiding too much student loan debt is another critical trap we should avoid. Student loans are the greatest wealth killer of this generation. The average black college graduate is hammered with student loan debt in unbelievable ways, all so they can be well-trained to go work for a white guy. This is what you might call "hustlin backwards."
A black person who makes wise economic choices (sometimes contrary to what they have been taught at home or at school) is probably going to have more wealth than the average white person. For example, I knew a black woman who started off dirt poor (her mother couldn't even afford a refrigerator), never studied finance, never started a business, but is now close to being a millionaire by basically doing these things:
1) Maxing out her 401k when she got her first job (many of our people don't want to do that due to instant gratification culture)
2) Saving 10% of her income (saving should be the first thing you do in your budget, not the last)
3) Buying a home as soon as she could (people don't realize that when you rent for life, you're actually making your landlord a millionaire)
4) Avoiding too much student loan and credit card debt (These are consumer traps that cripple millions of Americans).
By the age of 40, she had hundreds of thousands of dollars in positive net worth, after starting off poorer than most of you reading this article right now. But of course, the politicians would say she's a lucky unicorn and that no one should hear her story. It almost seems as though they'd rather tell you the least empowering stories instead.
The truth is that building wealth is doable, but the problem is that many of us have been trained to believe that it's not. If you think somethings impossible, you're not going to try. However, if all of us did exactly what this woman did, we would have very similar results.
Dr Boyce Watkins is a PhD in Finance and founder of The Black Business School. To obtain a free e-copy of Dr Watkins' book, "It takes a village to raise the bar," please visit AllBlackEconomics.com