Category Archives: Lifestyle

6 Financial Things HBCU Men Must Do Before Getting In A Serious Relationship


Teach self-denial and make its practice pleasure, and you can create for the world a destiny more sublime that ever issued from the brain of the wildest dreamer. – Sir Walter Scott

So you are a man now you say? You have graduated from your HBCU with degree in hand and maybe you have your dream job, maybe you are still looking, and maybe you are contemplating going to graduate school. Regardless of where you are in life, there is a strong chance that you have a desire to be in love. Before you give someone the world, make sure you have taken care of a few things before you embrace the responsibility that comes with a serious relationship.

Societal norms put the financial burden of courtship on men in heterosexual relationships. Historically, this makes sense because it has only been in very recent decades that women have earned the right to their own financial independence within many societies and in more than a few still have limited financial rights. However, this presents a bit complicated in the United States for African America where the women have surpassed men by leaps and bounds in almost every major category. It also does not help that African American men have the highest unemployment rate among all groups in the country, which creates a courtship complexity of sorts within the community. African American men who are 20-24 years old as of December 2018 had a 11.8 percent unemployment rate, while their European American men peers were at 5.9 percent and African American women peers were 7.5 percent. That being said, for African American men who are part of the LGBTQ community, the instability can be even more pronounced since both parties are part of the most vulnerable economic population and will be facing additional discrimination.

A relationship can be an expensive endeavor, according to a USA Today study the average date cost $102.32 and if you assume one date a week in a relationship that comes out to a total of $5,320.64 per year. This of course is not including special dates or holidays where the purchase of gifts, etc. can drive that cost even higher. The problem of course is that African American median income, last among all ethnic groups, is at $40,258 according to the 2017 Census. In other words, over 13 percent of African American income can be used up in dating, while no other groups even spend 10 percent.

To say the calculus is complicated would be an understatement. Do African Americans simply not date? This of course would be problematic since one of the fundamental ways of building wealth is through the scalability of marriage. Instead, get a strong financial foundation under you by adhering to these six principles and objectives:

BE HONEST. BE HONEST. BE HONEST.

This honestly could be the whole article, but it is certainly worth leaning into. Being honest about your finances up front with the person you are dating can take a lot of pressure off them and yourselves. This does not mean you have to tell them everything right away, but if you can not afford to do something tell them and do not feel ashamed of it. If you want to share with them that you have certain financial goals you want to meet, then do so and let them be part of what you are trying to accomplish not an adversary to it.

HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND – NO, SERIOUSLY.

African American men are the most vulnerable population as it relates to employment as the numbers bear out. As such, if you are a recent graduate and happen to have employment you can not save fast enough. Most personal finance experts will say as a general rule 3-6 months of expenses is a healthy emergency fund, but for African American men 9-12 months is much more imperative. An emergency fund can take the edge off of dating because you know that you and your date are not spending your potential car note or rent payment. Do NOT touch it except for an emergency. Also, do not base your emergency fund off expenses, but instead use gross income. You want to have 9-12months of gross incomes saved. Saving based on  your income instead of expenses will allow you to maintain some semblance of a normal life should an emergency arise.

SET EXPECTATIONS AND A BUDGET.

Once you decide to send someone flowers every Monday, fine dining every Friday, and a trip every other month you have set an expectation. Now, this is not to say you can not do those things, but they need to be within the confines of your budget. You should have an amount that you are going to spend every month on dating activities. If you want to save for something a bit more costly, spend a bit less each month and set it aside until you can afford that moment. Should your finances change and you need to alter the budget and expectations, remember – be honest.

BE CREATIVE.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend a lot on someone to let them know you care about them. The internet is full of helpful resources that can help you create low to no cost dates. Feel free to also use your social media networks for ideas.

DO NOT CONFUSE INCOME WITH WEALTH.

Income is not wealth. Again, income is NOT wealth. Assets build wealth and you have to use your income to acquire assets. Beyond your emergency fund, you should be thinking about saving to invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, etc. Find a financial/investment adviser as soon as you have a job. You do not have to wait until you have “money” to start investing. The earlier you start, the greater chance you will have of creating wealth over the long-term. Passive income, money earned from not having to work, should be a central focus of what you use your income for. Do no squander away the opportunity to set up yourself and future family while you have the opportunity.

LEAVE THE MATERIALISM FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

We have all seen that friend or friends who gets a job after college and decides to go on a spending spree for the nice car, clothes, and showing off for Instagram. This is not the man you want to be. Becoming a slave to material possessions and forsaking your financial future while being part of a labor population that is the most vulnerable is not only not smart, but dangerous. Material things lose value and defer from your ability to invest among other things.

Ultimately, if you are a man and are not financially safe or stable, then you are not ready for a serious relationship with anyone. Do not confuse stable for rich. Most of the time financially stability can be achieved in a relatively short period with the proper sacrifices (like having a roommate or two or three) after graduating. Becoming financially literate is vital to helping remove the stresses of finances in African American relationships. A stress that is often noted as being the greatest area of conflict within relationships. After all, love does not cost a thing, but bad financial habits do.

 

Advertisements

The 2016-2017 HBCU Graduate Student Loan Report


There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt. – P.T. Barnum

The most recent study on HBCU student loan debt by HBCU Money shows a continued trend in this our third installment of tracking the crisis at our nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Whatever the nation thinks of the overall student loan crisis, it pales in comparison to what is happening at HBCUs. America’s student loan flu is African America’s student loan pneumonia with no insurance.

To put it mildly, the HBCU student loan crisis continues to be complicated. Overall, less HBCU students are graduating with debt as a percentage, which is a positive thing. Although the cause of why that number continues to drop is very unclear. The other piece of the puzzle though is the amount of student loan debt HBCU students are graduating with is skyrocketing. In the five years since our original report, the median student loan debt for an HBCU graduate is up twenty percent. Over that same period, median student loan debt for those graduating from a Top 50 endowed college or university is up only six percent.

The results are paired against America’s 50 largest universities by endowment which varied by geography, public and private status, and school size similar to that of HBCUs. The Project on Student Debt by The Institute for College Access and Success reports that in America overall, “New data show that the average student debt for college graduates continues to climb but at a slower pace, according to a report released by the Institute for College Access & Success. Nationally, about two in three (65 percent) college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2017 had student loan debt. These borrowers owed an average of $28,650, 1 percent higher than the 2016 average.”

Numbers in parentheses shows the comparative results from the universities of the 50 largest endowments:

Median Debt of an HBCU Graduate – $34,131 ($24,237)

Proportion of HBCU Graduates with debt – 86% (40%)

Nonfederal debt, % of total debt of graduates – 4% (26%)

Pell Grant Recipients  – 71% (15%)

Statistics show that HBCU graduates are almost 32 percent more likely to graduate with debt than the national average, this number is up from 28 percent a few years ago. As the nation continues to increase the percentage of graduates with debt, HBCUs are actually decreasing its percentage is a canary in the coal mine. Again, it is unclear what is causing the drop. HBCU graduates are an astonishing 115 percent more likely to graduate with debt than those graduating from a Top 50 endowed college or university, by far the worst number in our report’s history with the previous being 96 percent more likely three years ago and 93 percent more likely five years ago. A disturbing trend upwards if there ever was one. The percentage of HBCU graduates finishing with debt is down over four percent in the past five years, while Top 50 endowed college or university graduates have seen the percentage of graduates graduating with debt down over eleven percent.

In terms of the debt itself, as mentioned the median student loan debt is up over twenty percent since our inaugural report five years ago. Disparagingly, student loan debt for HBCU graduates is more than 40 percent greater than Top 50 endowed college and university graduates. This creates a number of socieoeconomic issues  for HBCUs themselves and for the graduates they hope will be able to benefit from education’s upward mobility in wealth accumulation.

Median Total Cost of Attendance – $22,866 ($66,623)

The cost of attending an HBCU should be an advantage for African Americans, but poor endowments and lack of familial wealth continue to negate the one primary advantage HBCUs have, cost. Despite costing almost three times more over a four year period, Top 50 endowed colleges and universities are managing to graduate those who finish with debt at about 9 percent of the total cost of attendance over that four year period. In contrast, for HBCU graduates, they are finishing with 37 percent of the total cost of attendance over the same period.

Three years ago in our second report we said this and it remains true here in our third report as well, “Unfortunately, HBCUs are caught between a rock and hard place in needing to desperately raise tuition to generate more revenue because of weak endowments, but doing so increases an already over-sized burden on their graduates long-term and making it even less likely they will become the donors that the institutions desperately need. It has become a vicious cycle and with so much of African America and America invested in the demise of HBCUs that it seems only a miracle will keep us from perishing.” Without transformative donations of the eight and nine figure variety on a more consistent basis, then it is hard to see the student loan debt load decreasing or even plateauing at this point. A somber reality in a world where education is becoming increasingly vital for upward mobility for individuals, families, and communities.

Houston Super Trainer & HBCU Advocate Marcus Walker Discusses Fitness, Entrepreneurship, And His Staunch Support For HBCUs


To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. – Buddha

Recent years have seen a boom in the fitness industry among those 40 and under. A desire to be fit, not develop dad bods, and live active lifestyles has seen small gyms popping up all over the country, especially in urban centers. Looking at the numbers of the fitness industry that seems to be just scratching the surface it is not hard to understand the lure for entrepreneurs and investors. According to Statista, “The global fitness and health club industry generates more than 80 billion U.S. dollars in revenue per year. The North American market had an estimated size of more than 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, of which 90 percent, around 25.8 billion U.S. dollars, was attributable to the United States. The U.S. is the single biggest market worldwide not only in terms of revenue but in regards to the number of members in health & fitness clubs as well.” This booming industry seems to be just scratching the surface as people’s desire to live longer and more quality lives becomes more and more a societal norm and value. HBCU Money caught up with Marcus Walker, one of Houston, Texas’ premier trainers, who we caught up with in between sessions to talk fitness, the business side, and why he supports HBCUs despite having not attended one.

How can small businesses integrate fitness into their business to ensure they have healthier and productive employees? They can partner with a local trainer to see if they have a plan that would help make the owner and workers aware of living a healthier life. It is no secret that healthy employees call out of work less, work more efficiently, and overall are more productive. From a bottom line perspective alone it is worth small businesses who have to watch every dime to be invested in employees who are healthy and fit.

A second aspect is engaging their customers as well. They could partner with a trainer and run specials for customers who shop with their business. The latter part shows that they care not only about their customers’ business, but their well being. Be more than just a business in the community, be a community partner.

If you could meet with the mayor, governor, or president, what would be your advice on how government can help its citizens achieve healthier lifestyles? I would start by showing them the effects that fast food have on people. Obviously in a city like Houston that is geographically very spread out and has a heavy reliance on cars there is a tendency toward less activity and unhealthy eating as we spend a good deal of our days driving. I would suggest that they create a program focusing on providing favorable small business loans for vegan, gluten-free, and clean eating businesses so that we could have healthier options. The fresher the food, the better it is for you. Replacing those late night fast food chains with healthy options would be a great start.

There are a lot of different avenues to be an entrepreneur within the fitness industry. Where are some areas you feel African Americans are underrepresented or over looking that has opportunity in the industry? We are definitely underrepresented in owning gyms. There are a lot of African American trainers, but not a lot of gym owners. It’s not easy to run a gym, but its doable. It requires hard work, being hands on, and providing an atmosphere that people feel great about being committed too.

How is technology impacting the world of fitness for gyms and trainers? Technology is making gym and training experiences better for all. As a trainer you are allowed the opportunity to train people all over the world by training online. It also has made it possible to make sure clients and gym members keep correct form on certain machines that guide you in the right direction to ensure they are truly maximizing workout efforts. For trainers, it has helped keep their small business running smoothly by offering different apps that do everything from keeping up with clients to filing taxes correctly.

Despite typically being a more active time, health issues like obesity and the like are on the rise at HBCU campuses. A few years ago, Spelman College scrapped its entire athletic program in favor of a campus wise holistic wellness program for all students and Paul Quinn College eliminated pork from its cafeterias. What are some other opportunities you believe HBCUs can help their students be healthy while in college and after? They could offer free seminars on meal prepping, portion control, alternate healthier late night snacks, and drive home the importance of brain food. I also feel like an elective should be required just to bring awareness to being healthy. These students are often returning to family and communities that they can help impart that knowledge on, so it is vital that we give them the information needed.

In closing, you did not attend an HBCU, but have been a staunch advocate over the years. What brought this on and what message would you give to other African Americans who did not attend HBCUs about supporting them? I didn’t attend an HBCU as you said, but as I began to dig deep into our history, I found the importance of HBCUs. I would tell any African Americans to do their best to promote, support, and give to HBCUs. We are some amazing people and we need to support our own. We are all we have.

You can find Marcus Walker training at Houston Muscleheadz Gym. Also follow him on Instagram @MWalker357 to see his Temple Building process.

10 Twitter Accounts To Follow If You Want To Be A Global HBCU Citizen


“A little exposure to a city like Sulaimani will help Trump understand that the Middle East is a much more complex place than he seems to believe. Perhaps Trump could even give a speech at the American University in Sulaimani, just as President Obama did at Cairo University early in his first term.” – Peter Bergen

Today, more and more HBCU students and alumni are embracing the passport. Traveling abroad has become even more of a priority as a mixture of factors that range from value being placed on experiences over material possessions, heightened frustration with the cultural climate in the US, and simply more exposure to the benefits. Beyond travel, more than a few HBCU alumni have become expats and taking careers abroad opening a whole new world of opportunity. Whether one chooses to travel or work abroad, we are now in a world where having a global perspective is paramount.

How does one go about learning how to understand the world from truly global perspective? The most sure fire way is to read and consume perspectives from around the world. This is not to be confused with reading about the world from only a US perspective. That is to say, reading about East Africa on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox is vastly different than reading about East Africa from an actual East African publication.

As such, we have comprised ten Twitter account can get you on the road to truly becoming the HBCU global citizen who not only trek’s the world, but understands its intricacies.

@OurWorldInData

  •  An online publication that presents empirical research and data that show how living conditions around the world are changing. The web publication on global development uses interactive data visualisations (charts and maps) to present the research findings on development that explain the causes and consequences of the observed changes. (Wikipedia)

@The_EastAfrican

  • The EastAfrican is circulated in Kenya and the other countries of the African Great Lakes region, including Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. It contains stories and in-depth analysis from each country in the region, in addition to international stories. (Wikipedia)

@ChinaDailyUSA

  • A Beijing, China based paper that is considered one of China’s more liberal news outlets, like almost all media in the country is state run. Its importance can not be understated as it is one of many vessels of communication for the world’s number two superpower and its views.

@ForeignAffairs

  • An American magazine of international relations and U.S. foreign policy published by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. (Wikipedia)

@IanBremmer

  • The president and founder of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He is credited with bringing the craft of political risk to financial markets—he created Wall Street’s first global political risk index (GPRI)—and for establishing political risk as an academic discipline. His definition of emerging markets—“those countries where politics matters at least as much as economics for market outcomes”—has become an industry standard. “G-Zero,” his term for a global power vacuum in which no country is willing and able to set the international agenda, is widely accepted by policymakers and thought leaders. (Eurasia Group)

@SecurityScholar

  • Natalie Sambhi is a Research Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre where she publishes on Indonesian foreign and defence policy as well as Southeast Asian security. She was most recently an Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) from 2012 to 2016 and Managing Editor of ASPI’s blog, The Strategist. She worked previously at the Department of Defence and University of Canberra. (Security Scholar)

@Ipeaonline

  • The (Brazilian) think tank’s main goals are the following evaluate and propose essential public policies and programs to improve the social, economic and structural development of the country; formulate prospective studies to guide development strategies for medium and long-term outcomes; assist the Brazilian federal government in its aim to improve the efficiency of its decisions; and contribute to the improvement of the public debate related to the country’s development endeavors and government actions. (Ipea.gov)

@ChathamHouse

  • The Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, is a not-for-profit and non-governmental organisation based in London whose mission is to analyse and promote the understanding of major international issues and current affairs. (Wikipedia)

@JapanTimes

  • The Japan Times was launched by Motosada Zumoto on March 22, 1897, with the goal of giving Japanese an opportunity to read and discuss news and current events in English to help Japan to participate in the international community. (Wikipedia)

@NatGeo

  • Often forgotten as an aspect of global and international affairs, geography plays a significant role in the way countries, nations, and cultures interact with each other. This publication gives insight to geography, culture, and nature that shape many nations.

Connect with us on Twitter at @HBCUMoney and let us know what you are reading to help shape your global world.

 

Living & Teaching Abroad: Xavier University (LA) Alumna Britney Francis Conquers Beijing


There has been a recent revelation in the past five years that African Americans need to get out and explore the world. The passport has become the new IT thing to have among African America’s young and educated. Adding to that reality is that more and more college students must set themselves apart in a more competitive global workforce. One sure way to do that is to show that you have the ability to go anywhere and be successful, especially if it means going some place out of your comfort zone. If adding tools to your tool chest is what sets you apart, then studying abroad during your undergraduate years gives you one mean hammer to swing. It also presents some amazing career opportunities upon graduation if you are willing to take the chance. HBCU Money caught up with Britney Francis, an alumna of Xavier University (LA), who is conquering the classroom in the capital of arguably the world’s number two superpower – China.

How did the opportunity arise for you to live and teach in Beijing, China?

By May 2016, I was unfulfilled, disillusioned and dissatisfied with life, particularly with my job. I had also been going through a health issue that had been going on for nearly 3 years at the time. Feeling like I needed real change, I was inspired by a friend from high school who had gotten a teaching job in Dubai. I had started to come around to the idea of teaching, and had started studying to test for an acceleration program that helps people become teachers — who had degrees in other specialties besides education. I had my sights set on becoming a high school history teacher in Houston. I had also been mentoring kids at the juvenile justice center and felt it was time to get into the classroom to find other ways to reach the youth. So I figured, “hey — maybe I can also teach abroad particularly next year or the following year”. I thought I would do myself a service by gaining experience in the States before taking the show abroad. I was interested in Japan and started to do research. For some reason, it seemed much harder to get to Japan (which wasn’t true but you don’t know what you don’t know). Then I started to see posts from China. After researching for a few weeks on various job boards, I came across a job ad for an education company called Education First, based in China. What made me pull the trigger was getting written up at my job for performance issues (and my health stuff, if you wanna keep it a buck. My manager had told me that all I had been going through was “impacting the business” – whatever that means). I was so bored and disgusted; the place was no doubt a dead-end job. My work and my health continued to suffer and I was listening to podcasts at my desk all day… anything to escape. I had applied at a charter school at the recommendation of a friend. I had written an elaborate essay but received a response almost immediately saying they would “keep my application on file”. Something inside me told me to change a few of the words around and apply to the same company I had seen in China days before. So I did, and by the end of that week I had the job and was set to arrive in Beijing by September. PERFECT timing!

How do you believe going to an HBCU and XULA in particular prepared you for being an expatriate?

One thing I always say is that being HBCU alum prepared me for life in a way I feel no other school could have. I learned so much about myself at my HBCU and my sense of Black pride strengthened. Being a Xavier student during the year Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city of New Orleans is what particularly made me strong. It made all of us strong. We had faith in our school and returned to the city five months after the storm hit. Houses were destroyed, there was mold everywhere. The city was crippled and the students/admin kept it pushing. Hell, all schools in the NOLA area did the same thing. Most of us that returned after the storm have graduated and have moved on to do great things in our lives.

Living in a place like China where most people you encounter are ignorant and inherently racist, I feel that what I’ve experienced prior to now gave me tough skin. But not to say it’s the all bad. For every ignorant person, there are a million more kind, giving, and helpful people here as well. The mindset, cultural and societal norms here are SOOO different.

As an educator, what are some differences and conversely similarities you have noticed between the education systems of China in comparison to the United States?

Being that my teaching experience is only limited to my time here in China I can’t speak too much on the American side as I haven’t seen it from the eyes of a teacher. But I will say that certain teaching methods I’ve tried to use on my older students were frowned upon, especially in instances where I tried to make my classes fun (for my high school students). Things that I know worked for me as a student or methods I’ve researched can sometimes be overridden as you’re expected to adapt to the “Chinese way” and not have much say-so in the matter.

Chinese students don’t have lives of your typical American teenager. They are groomed to study 7 days a week and get LOADS of homework. On weekends, they study, sleep and play on their computers. They don’t have social lives, and hardly date. Emphasis is placed on math and science more than other subject areas. And I’ve found that most parents here will pressure their kids to be successful, to the point where they are depressed and often unsure of themselves. I’ve even had parents ask me “how can my son/daughter be better?” with an overall class score of 99 and rated highest in the entire class. On the other side, there’s also a bit of denial when it comes to things like learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.

Do you have a favorite memory thus far in your time there?

Most of my favorite memories involve my students, present and old. Children are so amazing and smart and I’ve become emotionally attached to nearly all of my students. It’s very hard saying goodbye to students when new opportunities arise and it’s time to move on to a new school (or they move on to a new school). My other favorite memories involve all the friends I’ve made here and especially the trips I’ve taken. Living here has afforded me opportunities to travel that I didn’t have before and it’s been amazing. So far, I’ve been to Thailand, S. Korea, Hong Kong, and a few interesting cities around China. I have so many other places to see before I pack up and head back home.

Being African-American in China, what has that particular part of the experience been like for you?

Honestly, it can be a bit frustrating. It can go either two ways: either people are deathly afraid of you or WAY too curious/friendly/unable to respect boundaries. Being Black in China, you can expect people to take pictures of you without your permission. It’s cute at first – until after you’ve been here a few months, you had a long day at work and just trying to get home to your bed. Seeing someone sneaking a picture of you like you’re a zoo exhibit can be angering. Also, people don’t have concepts of boundaries and personal space. With there being 20+ million people in bigger cities, there’s not much room for you to breathe and people like to touch your hair or try to rub your skin to see if the black comes off. I try not to fault most people for it because they are conditioned and they simply don’t know much about the world outside of China. They also assume any black person they see is from Africa… and when you don’t know the language you can’t explain to them how the Diaspora works. It’s just a LOT of ignorance. For me personally, in work spaces and social spaces, I require respect from everybody I interact with, language barrier be damned. It’s the only way I can cope with what goes on around here.

We know you can not prepare for everything prior to living abroad, but is there something you wish you had known in particular prior to your move?

No. Besides bringing enough black hair care products and make-up that matches your tone to last you a while, there’s nothing I think I could have been told prior that would have made much of a difference. Everyone’s experience is different. You could ask another person to talk about their experiences and they may LOVE it here, or hate it with their entire being. I like that I was given the opportunity to come here and be out of my comfort zone. Everything I’ve learned about myself and the world thus far has only enhanced my personal growth. I am a different person than I was in September 2016 and I can only continue to soar from here. I’m still very happy about my decision to move here.

Tell us about one of your fondest HBCU memories while at XULA?

Graduation day. Enough said.

Britney Francis is an English teacher from southern Louisiana by way of Houston, TX. She has a bachelors degree in Communications from Xavier University of Louisiana, with a concentration in public relations and speech communication. She is currently working as a kindergarten teacher in Beijing, China. She is passionate about travel, sports, and children’s causes.

Follow her experiences via Twitter at @britneyisland