Tag Archives: wealth

Bun B Advises African America To Get A Larger Worldview When It Comes To Wealth

”Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” – Paul Samuelson

The Walton Family, most notably known as the “owners” or dominant shareholders of Wal-Mart. As of March 31, 2022 they are worth an estimated $234.2 billion or 20 percent of African America’s $1.1 trillion buying power.

In an interview with Brandon Hightower, who is better known as B High and a journalist in Atlanta, on his YouTube channel BHighTV, Bernard Freeman, better known as hip-hop legend Bun B, lays down an immense amount of financial wisdom that he has accumulated over the years. Primarily speaking to up and coming hip-hop artists, the conversation could apply to any room in African America. According to an economic study done by McKinsey, African America continues to be the poorest racial group in America with a median net worth of only $24,000 and yet its financial behavior according to Mr. Freeman reflects anything but that.

Mr. Freeman immediately addresses the issue of ownership versus labor that many may have overlooked in the conversation. Asked about how to navigate the issues of artist feeling like they are being robbed by their labels Freeman says, “Don’t sign to a label. I mean that’s just it. Don’t sign to a label and take the slow road.” When pressed by Hightower of people not wanting to take the slow road, Freeman counters with, “Take the fast and get robbed then. Do you want to be famous or do you want to be rich? Because there is a likeliness that you might not be able to be both in this game. At a certain point you have to decide, do you want to be seen and known and look like you got bread and have everybody assume you got bread? Or do you really want to have bread and have people just assume you broke and not really getting it?” The slow road being an independent label that you own and own the masters and all rights to your music or going with a major label who owns the rights to everything you produce in exchange for a small royalty. Do you want to be the owner or do you want to be the labor? This is a question that is consistently overlooked in our community and institutions. HBCUs love to discuss how many of their students have gotten jobs, but when is the last time you saw an HBCU produce an entrepreneurship report detailing how many of their students started companies, hired other HBCU graduates, brought jobs to their community, wealth creation, and overall economic impact in the community? You do not because we do not have a focus there. Our community too often prides itself on finding a “good” job. Despite this push, our unemployment rate always remains twice the national average. Why? Because there is not nearly enough ownership within the community and therefore the ability to dictate employment, wages, and wealth in our community are always at the hands of others.

After a brief exchange on how the African American community seems to not believe that you can be famous and not be rich and be rich and not be famous, Mr. Freeman ask Mr. Hightower if he knows what the Walton Family (pictured above) looks like to which the latter replies no idea. The irony that members of the Walton family could walk into many Wal-Marts around the country and not be recognized, while controlling one of the world’s largest corporations and being one of the wealthiest families on Earth is not to be lost in this age of social media influencer and the like that more and more see as a path to riches. Again, associating being known with being financially successful. And while a few people listed on the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index maybe well known, such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, 99 percent of that list could walk into many households and be absolutely unknown. However, one thing they all have in common? 100 percent of them are owners.

Mr. Freeman then says in response to Mr. Hightower asking how do we get kids to see beyond the drug dealers, ballplayers, and rap stars, “You have to give them a broader worldview so they can see what real money look like. Because I tell young people all the time everybody that you looking on TV and on the internet that’s rich, with the exception of a hand full of people, maybe ten people, somebody pay them.” He even goes on to discuss Shaquille O’Neal, who he believes either is close to or already a billionaire, but also states that a large portion of O’Neal’s wealth comes from people paying him, but who they themselves were already billionaires and O’Neal had no idea what they looked like before getting paid by them. We often hear of athlete’s salaries, but rarely if ever think about what the owner’s of these teams make. The NFL for instance, which is one of the worst paying professional sports leagues for players based on salaries and career expectancy, is also the most profitable sports league for owners. It is no coincidence that those two things go hand in hand. As of this article, Deshaun Watson, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, recently signed to become the highest paid player in NFL history at 5 years, $230 million or $46 million per year. Compare that with Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who last year took home $280.4 million or six times what Deshaun Watson’s contract is. Even more so, Jerry Jones does not have to take one hit owning the team, can own it longer than any player can play, and then can pass it onto his children (as of this article the Dallas Cowboys are valued at $6.5 billion according to Forbes). Deshaun Watson can claim none of those things. Again, labor versus ownership.

This is not to say that Mr. Freeman is against having fun and enjoying your money as he points out discussing the trend of people who count money on the internet as a form of showing off. But he also follows it with, “Jay-Z is getting richer and richer and he is wearing less and less s**t that looks rich. And you keep going into these rooms with these people trying to look like money. No, you have to sound like money, think like money.” He points out that you will do little to impress Jeff Bezos or Warren Buffett walking into a meeting with them wearing a $4-5 million watch, number 2 and 5 on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index and worth a combined $400 billion or 36 percent of African America’s buying power. One could argue that you may even turn them off by spending so lavishly. Spending $5 million on a watch versus leveraging that $5 million into $25 million worth of real estate and $2.5 million in annual income from that real estate looks like someone who is not really interested in building generational wealth. Especially for African America when every single dollar is going to count for families, communities, and institutions. In 2019, African Americans accounted for 13.2 percent of the population, but a heartbreaking 23.8 percent of poverty according to the U.S. Census.

“Wealthy does not have to prove to anybody that they are wealthy”, says Mr. Freeman in closing out the show’s segment. And to that point, the lack of wealth in our community and institutions continues to induce behavior that screams of lack. Unfortunately, wealth is not going to be generated by a job or even by starting a business per se. Wealth and power is generated by the building of an institutional ecosystem that is connected and circulates intellectual, social, economic, and political capital within it. African American banks having enough deposits to lend to an HBCU who wants to build a new research facility. An African American venture capital fund setting up and office at an HBCU to fund the next great idea in renewable energy. An HBCU alumni association putting money into an African American community to help ensure the K-12 system is providing the best education with the latest technology. Then all of those moments working together in unison. That is when we will see wealth and then power become not a scarcity in our community but a norm.

To watch the full interview segment, click below or go to http://www.bhightv.com.

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – Black Asset Poverty and the Enduring Racial Divide

Claims of a postracial society notwithstanding, there are enormous and even expanding differences in the level of assets owned by various racial and ethnic groups and black families are vastly overrepresented among the asset poor. Lori Martin provides an in-depth exploration of the causes and consequences of racial wealth inequality.Drawing on both national data and case studies from New York City, Martin probes the reasons for discrepancies in wealth accumulation and their significance for black Americans of all economic classes. Her work allows a deeper understanding of the impact of asset poverty on individuals, families, communities, and the nation as a whole.

Minority Illusion: The African America-Asian America Gap

By William A. Foster, IV

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusion of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, till she transforms us into beasts. – Patrick Henry

There is a reality that European Americans seem to be aware of and African Americans seems virtually clueless to. America is fast shifting from an European Diaspora controlled country to an Asian Diaspora controlled country. The social and economic crisis in Europe has lowered European immigration and economic resources flowing to the US. This reality coupled with a rapidly declining birthrate of those of European descent in the US has left an opening for a new power to arise. Asia has seen the opening led by China and seems intent on completing a mission Japan attempted with Pearl Harbor. To not only retrench European aggression toward Asia but to have it aborted all together by creating a cold war fought primarily on US soil and limit another resource invasion of the Asian continent.  The term “minority”, an European American construct, which lumps all people who are of non-European descent into the same boat as if their social, economic, and political capital are the same is both dangerous and naive for African American strategy. Somehow it appears we have become so fixated on European Americans that we are completely missing the rise of Asian America. Let us examine a few of the statistics.

Life Expectancy: Asian America – 87.3 Years* l African America – 73.6 Years

% of 25 and older with degrees: Asian America – 50%* l African America – 18%

Median Income: Asian America – $68,780* l African America – $32,068

Median Net Worth: Asian America – $83, 500** l African America – $2,170

Unemployment Rate: Asian America – 4.8%* l African America – 13.4%

Participation Rate: Asian America – 63.7% l African America – 61.7%

*Leads all ancestral groups in U.S.

** Asian America’s median net worth was actually higher than European America’s prior to the 2008 recession.

The graph below, showing Asians as the fastest growing demographic in America not Latinos, coupled with the aforementioned social and economic numbers will have vital future political implications. It is no secret that the more educated and affluent a population is the more civic and politically engaged they are. The chart is showing that not only will they have the education and money but they will have the raw votes in the coming decades to become the new majority with unbridled power and reduce European Americans to the largest minority group in America. One has to assume while some European Americans feels some level of responsibility to African Americans historically speaking – Asians Americans have no such baggage. This leaves one to wonder as Asian Americans assume power where that will leave African America in the power vacuum.

Asian Nation, a journalism site that focuses on Asian America reviewed the top colleges and universities for Asian Americans also took some student interviews. One very interesting quote from an Asian student attending Pomona College in Claremont, CA was “The issue of ‘integration’ is a loaded one in that many white students and staff often accuse students of color, specifically Asian American students, of being anti-integrationist because we feel the need to be politicized and develop leadership within our own community.” Whereas African Americans are obsessed with integration and diversity this suggest Asians plan to secure their strength from inward first and foremost. Ironically, this was the strategy originally of African America coming out of slavery but would fall by the wayside as the civil rights generation would pursue a fruitless strategy of desegregation virtually wiping out all of African America’s institutional strength.

From a geostrategic point of view between the Asian and African Diasporas influence in America one only need to look at the ownership of U.S. debt held by foreign countries. The two largest holders are China and Japan while ten of the top thirty-seven largest foreign holders are Asian countries in the latest Treasury report. There is $5.430 trillion of U.S. debt held by foreign countries and of that 53.7 percent is held by Asian countries while only 0.2 percent is held by South Africa, the lone African country present in the top thirty-seven holders in the report. It becomes clearer and clearer who is establishing influence and control from within and from the outside in America.

African America too often falls into the lull that all “minority” groups are in the same position as we are or want to simply settle for inclusion as we seem to want. As Chinatowns and other Asian enclaves pop up, African Americans continue to abandon our own communities in droves for “better” communities which we tend to deem any community other than our own. When we examine most African American neighborhoods and communities it is Asians and Arabs finding their economic footing by owning the majority of small businesses within our borders while Europeans still control virtually all of the financial outlets via banks or payday loan businesses. It would seem that everyone recognizes the value in our community but us. We continue to search for allies everywhere but from within and have put all of our chips on the illusion of inclusion instead of the reality of control and competition for resources. We are the group with the least but willing to share the most. In the end this lack of awareness about the rise of Asian America will leave African America with the same reality (actually worse) we faced in the early twentieth century when we contemplated putting our loyalty behind Russia  to liberate ourselves from the oppression of America. As it turned out as famously quoted by Dr. John H. Clarke, “We were not in a battle between a liberator and oppressor but between two oppressors with different methods of oppression. In the end Russia no more wanted us to be free any more than U.S. but they wanted us under their control.” The lion must awake because the fire of the dragon appears to be just warming up.

HBCU Money™ Presents African Diaspora’s 5 Wealthiest of 2011

Forget rappers or athletes. None make the list. Forget just America this list goes global. After all the African Diaspora represents approximately 1.2 billion people of African descent no matter where we are in the world. Just because we left home (or were taken) we are still sons and daughters of Mother Africa.

Initially, this list was supposed to be a top 10 as we assumed with a record 1,226 billionaires found this year through our source we surely expected to need a cutoff point. Couple that with the motherland being the richest natural source on the planet we thought we would unquestionably be well represented on the list. Unfortunately, we as often seems to be the case more times than not others are benefiting more from our contributions than we are because we rarely own or control the vehicles of which wealth is created. So the five you see listed below is actually all there was. It works out to us making up an abysmal 0.41% of the entire list despite us comprising 17.6% of the world’s population. There truly is work to be done.

1 – Aliko Dangote (pictured above)

Net Worth: $11.2 billion Residence: Nigeria

Industry: Sugar, Flour, Cement

2 – Ananda Krishnan

Net Worth: $9.9 billion Residence: Malaysia

Industry: Telcom

3 – Mike Adenuga

Net Worth: $4.3 billion Residence: Nigeria

Industry: Telcom, Banking, Oil

4 – Patrice Motsepe*

Net Worth: $2.7 billion Residence: South Africa

Industry: Mining

5 – Oprah Winfrey*

Net Worth: $2.7 billion Residence: United States

Industry: Television

*HBCU Alumnus

Source: Forbes