Commentary: How Can Blacks Progress Financially?

A new article notes African-Americans are certainly interested in the world of finance. But is the feeling mutual?

Posted: 11/27/2012 05:10 PM EST
Commentary: How Can Blacks Progress Financially?

A new infographic from personal finance site Online Loan 24 says African-American personal finance is “down, not out.”

What does that vague assessment mean? A lot of things, actually.

Using information obtained via two studies, “The State of the African-American Consumer” [PDF] and "The African American Financial Experience" [PDF], both from 2011, Online Loan 24 attempts to depict a Black financial future that, while not rosy, isn’t too grim, either. But can we trust the infographic?

According to Online Loan 24, “African-Americans are disadvantaged in just about every area of personal finance.” Not only is Black unemployment still a big problem, but African-Americans who do work earn just 61 percent of what their white counterparts earn. From there, the problems cascade, says the infographic: Blacks are significantly less likely than whites to feel secure in their ability to afford daily expenses and their mortgage. Fifty-four percent of Black adults have no savings; that’s twice the percentage of white adults with no money in the bank. And, when it came to home ownership, only 50 percent of Blacks owned their homes compared to 70 percent of whites.

When they retire, as we’ve told you before, Blacks have a lot less money than whites, particularly because African-Americans tend to do things like dip into their 401(k)s to ease financial burdens in times of need.

Basically, Blacks have it rough, financially speaking, from birth to retirement. But Online Loan 24 argues that there’s a silver lining:

The upside to all this is that a 2011 study on The African American Financial Experience reveals that two-thirds of African-American households with incomes greater than $50,000 have a strong desire to find financial solutions to meet their goals. They are largely self-directed, resourceful and exhibit a highly entrepreneurial spirit. They’re confident about the ability to make wise financial decisions and have high optimism about the country’s ability to rebound from financial crises.

It’s nice that Online Loan 24 wants us to know that Blacks are eager to obtain wealth, but I’m a bit wary of anyone who needed a study to tell them that fact.

Guess what: Blacks have wanted to get rich via the same means as white people since America was born — it wasn’t Blacks who kept themselves poor via financial machinations, it was whites.

Yes, you may have a study that now “proves” Blacks are interested in things like stocks and financial literacy, but until the institutions running those things are as excited about helping African-Americans as African-Americans already are about helping themselves, we won’t see as much progress as we should.


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(Photo: Getty Images/STOCK)

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