Poverty is the worst form of violence. – Mahatma Gandhi
Warning: This story contains images with offensive language.
If you have not heard by now, there is a text conversation (pictured below) that went viral among #BlackTwitter concerning a (assumed African American) mother of three who asked her boyfriend for twenty dollars so her three kids who were not his could go on a field trip since their fathers supposedly did not have it to give her and she did not have it herself. Needless to say people were appalled from every angle. Many men could not believe she was asking her boyfriend to pay for kids that were not his and many women could not believe the boyfriend would not give his girlfriend the money since it was in many opinions – JUST twenty dollars. The two fathers were largely spared much critique aside, but according to the mother neither had it to give her, which is what made her turn to the boyfriend in a last resort. That four (assumed) African American adults could not come up with twenty dollars seems almost unbelievable, but there is a reality that this may have been exactly the case.
The addage that men lie, women lie, but numbers do not maybe quite fitting here. One in four of all Americans have no money in savings according to a recent study by Bankrate.com. Although the study does not break out race, it is often seen in every statistical category about wealth and income that whatever cold America has, African America tends to have pneumonia. It is fair to say that the likely percentage of African America with no savings is possibly well over 50 percent, but the numbers and story does not end there. A few other economic statistics to note:
- African American poverty is almost three times the size of the national rate at 22 percent versus 9 percent, respectively.
- African Americans are still the only racial group making less than they did in 2000.
- African American median income is $39,490, while America’s median income is $59,039 and Asian America’s median income is $81,431.
- Average savings account balance for African Americans is $1,000 versus white America’s $7,140 and Hispanics $1,500.
Now, put that last statistic against the average rent in the U.S. as of 2016, which is $1,050 and in essence African Americans exist in a perpetual negative financial existence. That none of those four individuals potentially had twenty dollars to spare is the harsh reality of most African Americans, a situation that becomes even more acute among low-income and working class African Americans whose education and job choices may leave them in a constant state of uncertainty financially. This is to say nothing of the impact that the children’s potential deficit of exposure and beneficial experience the field trip would have provided them, a serious issue worthy of its own exploration when it comes to the development aspect of African American children.
For many of us, the number could change to 50, 100, or 200 dollars and we would find ourselves in a similarly uncomfortable conversation. It also speaks to the lack of support system around this mother and her children from her own family who may also be facing financial angst. There are a lot of layers to this story that much we can be for certain. We can certainly explore the systemic issues and lack of financial aptitude that face our community and the like, but what we should not be is quick to judge any of the individuals in this situation without truly understanding the full breath of our community’s reality.
Many people dream of owning their own business or making it to the top of the corporate ladder. In the pages of this book, you’ll meet African Americans who overcame obstacles and stereotypes to make their dreams a reality. Madam C. J. Walker was orphaned at age 7, married at 14, became a mother at 18, and was widowed at 20. She went on make a million dollars selling hair care products. Berry Gordy loved music but went broke after opening a record store. He didn’t give up, though. Gordy eventually started Motown Records, which became one of the country’s most successful record labels and introduced a host of talented black artists to mainstream American audiences. Stanley O’Neal grew up on a farm without running water or indoor toilets. Through intelligence and hard work he became the head of a $50 billion investment bank. Read about these and other inspiring figures in this book.
The Space Age began just as the struggle for civil rights forced Americans to confront the long and bitter legacy of slavery, discrimination, and violence against African Americans. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson utilized the space program as an agent for social change, using federal equal employment opportunity laws to open workplaces at NASA and NASA contractors to African Americans while creating thousands of research and technology jobs in the Deep South to ameliorate poverty. We Could Not Fail tells the inspiring, largely unknown story of how shooting for the stars helped to overcome segregation on earth.
Richard Paul and Steven Moss profile ten pioneer African American space workers whose stories illustrate the role NASA and the space program played in promoting civil rights. They recount how these technicians, mathematicians, engineers, and an astronaut candidate surmounted barriers to move, in some cases literally, from the cotton fields to the launching pad. The authors vividly describe what it was like to be the sole African American in a NASA work group and how these brave and determined men also helped to transform Southern society by integrating colleges, patenting new inventions, holding elective office, and reviving and governing defunct towns. Adding new names to the roster of civil rights heroes and a new chapter to the story of space exploration, We Could Not Fail demonstrates how African Americans broke the color barrier by competing successfully at the highest level of American intellectual and technological achievement.
A 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution’s complex and contested involvement in slavery—setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country. But Brown’s troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.
Many of America’s revered colleges and universities—from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to Rutgers, Williams College, and UNC—were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color. The earliest academies proclaimed their mission to Christianize the savages of North America, and played a key role in white conquest. Later, the slave economy and higher education grew up together, each nurturing the other. Slavery funded colleges, built campuses, and paid the wages of professors. Enslaved Americans waited on faculty and students; academic leaders aggressively courted the support of slave owners and slave traders. Significantly, as Wilder shows, our leading universities, dependent on human bondage, became breeding grounds for the racist ideas that sustained them.
Ebony and Ivy is a powerful and propulsive study and the first of its kind, revealing a history of oppression behind the institutions usually considered the cradle of liberal politics.
African American entrepreneurship has been an integral part of the American economy since the 1600s. On the eve of the Civil War, the collective wealth of free blacks was approximately $50 million. In 2006, African Americans earned a whopping $744 billion, a figure that exceeds the gross domestic product of all but 15 nations of the 192 independent countries in the world. As W. Sherman Rogers so ably demonstrates, African Americans have achieved these economic gains under difficult circumstances. Slavery, segregation, and legally limited access to property, education, and other opportunities have taken a heavy toll, even to this day. Besides providing a penetrating glimpse into the world of black entrepreneurship both past and present, this book urges African Americans to gain financial independence as entrepreneurs. Business ownership, Rogers argues, will bring security, wealth that can be passed to successive generations, and educated offspring with much greater earning power.
The African American Entreprenuer: Then and NoW</i> explores the lower economic status of black Americans in light of America’s legacy of slavery, segregation, and rampant discrimination. Its main purpose is to shine a light on the legal, historical, sociological and political factors that together help to explain the economic condition of black people in America from their arrival in America to the present. In the process, the book spotlights the many amazing breakthroughs made by black entrepreneurs even before the Civil War and Emancipation. Profiles of business people from the Post-civil War period through today include Booker T. Washington, pioneer banker and insurer A.G. Gaston, hair care entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, Ebony publisher John H. Johnson, Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, publisher Earl Graves, music producer Damon Dash, rapper Sean Combs, former basketball stars Dave Bing and Magic Johnson, food entrepreneur Michelle Hoskins, broadcast personality Cathy Hughes, former Beatrice Foods head Reginald Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, and many more. As Rogers points out, reading about remarkable African American entrepreneurs can inspire readers to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. To further that goal and help readers take the plunge, he outlines many of the skills, tools and information necessary for business success-success that can help chart a new path to prosperity for all African Americans.