Men Lie, Women Lie – Numbers Don’t: The Financial State of African America

By William A. Foster, IV

“Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex; you thought of nothing else if you didn’t have it and thought of other things if you did.” – James Baldwin

It appears that many of us simply just don’t know how BAD things are. We get blinded by a few and I do mean a few success stories and start confusing the exception to the rule as the rule. There is also the purveying confusion of many of us between wealth and income. That someone who makes millions is indeed a millionaire – even though MC Hammer & Mike Tyson remind us otherwise. So let’s take a look at some of the hard numbers when it comes to the state of African America’s financials.

  • African Americans median net worth $2,170 vs. European Americans median net worth $97,860. (Source: Economic Policy Institute)
  • Top 10 African American colleges & universities endowments have combined $1.3 billion in endowment. Top 10 European American colleges & universities endowments have combined $120 billion. (Source: NACUBO)
  • Top 10 African American colleges & universities research expenditures are a combined $349.2 million. Top 10 European American colleges & universities research expenditures are a combined $16.4 billion or 46 times greater. (Source: National Science Foundation)
  • Only 5% of African Americans work for African American owned companies. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
  • Only 135,525 African American owned firms out of 1,921,864 have sales of more than $100,000 annually. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
  • African Americans present in the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans – 1 (Source: Forbes)
  • Only $5.6 billion of African America’s $1.1 trillion buying power sits in African American owned banks or 0.51%. (Source: Black Enterprise)
  • African American median monthly savings $189 vs. European American median monthly savings $367. (Source: Ariel Capital)
  • African Americans participating in the stock market 60% vs. European Americans participating in the stock market 79%. (Source: Ariel Capital)
  • African American land ownership in early 20th century was between 16-19 million acres. Recent African American land ownership stands at 7.7 million acres. (Source: Federation of Southern Cooperatives)

This is our reality despite what African American rappers tell us about their “ballin” in which next to none of them are “ownin”. Yes, even with Oprah our wealth as a whole is still only $0.02 for every $1.00 of European Americans. Asian Americans prior to the 2008 financial crisis were actually the wealthiest Diaspora group in America. Latino Americans have already surpassed us in wealth. Few of us even conduct ourselves as if we are in a crisis. Sadly, our business as usual will get our usual results. African America would not even qualify as a developing economy. The improvement (or worsening) of these numbers will determine the world we leave to our families, communities, and future generations. Indeed, they will either thank us or curse us.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK Companies, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.

2 responses to “Men Lie, Women Lie – Numbers Don’t: The Financial State of African America

  1. Pingback: Recommended Reading For African American Financial Starters | Black Is

  2. From a VSU alum to another, Thank you for posting this article. This is true motivation for me.

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