Black people and financial freedom.
For the most part, the black population have a huge problem when it comes to debt. We often complain about bills, but most of us do very little to combat the problem of piling on more debt. Back in the day, few black families cared about brand name. It was more about necessities. The “haves” in the black community used to keep quiet about their assets, while the “have nots” tried everything in their power to fool everyone else they had it. Of course, not everyone falls in either category. We have black people who can’t wait to climb the top of a mountain to shout out to the world they’ve made it. We also have less fortunate people who understand their financial struggle, and make due with what they have.
We have a serious crisis when it comes to debt and black people’s addiction to brand name in retail. Too many of our people are allowing these white brands to define who they are. This identity crisis can be found all over pop culture. Most rappers and singers have supplied many of these brands with free advertising in their songs. Their albums are laced with braggadocious lyrics about the wine they drink, to the type of shoes, underwear and car they drive. Name dropping high-end brands in songs has been the latest trend in the last 25 years or so, while none of these people are getting paid for promoting these brands. We even have rappers taking on the names of famous brand designers like “Gucci Mane,” and many others. A quick stroll anywhere in the hood will reveal many lost individuals walking around like billboards, advertising different brands of clothing that they can hardly afford. The bigger the emblem/logo, the more attractive it is to the black consumer. “Fake it until you make it,” is the new mantra that most people in the hood tend to live by. It is all part of the destruction of the black community, black middle class, black wealth, and a revolving door into debt.
One of the main reasons why so many black people aren’t able to get a home loan, is because their debt to income ratio is higher than what these white institutions require. While these banks use racism, behavior patterns, stereotypes and prejudice to determine qualifications for loans, on average black people use 53 percent of their income to pay off their debt, while white people only defer 47 percent of their income to debt obligations. In addition, white people tend to inherit homes from their parents and grandparents, while young black professionals commonly become the first to purchase a home in their entire family. While Hispanics may be the worse in this category, as 56 percent of their income is obligated to debt, it is offset by the fact that Hispanic family members tend to share living quarters for a longer period of time, in order to keep cost down. Black folks don’t believe in living with family anymore. It’s common to find even brothers and sisters living apart, spending thousands of dollars individually to rent places they could’ve owned together in the same city.
Few black folks understand debt and credit. A lot of us are able to establish credit for the first time, and unfortunately the mentorship is lacking when it comes to credit maintenance. Too many of us believe the first credit card that we get approved for is a license to purchase and waste money. We don’t think about the repayment. Many of us don’t have credit history in our family, because there were barriers established to prevent our parents from establishing credit. Black folks have always paid higher rates for everything; from car insurance, life insurance, home loans, health insurance, food at the local supermarket, clothing at the local store, all because of a racist system in place designed to suck the financial life out of the black community. The guidelines established for insurance companies across the board, guaranteed the exploitation of the black community. Black politicians often neglect their constituents after landing a cushioned position in Washington. They don’t fight to bring fairness and equality to some of these industries. There’s no reason why coverage for a Toyota Camry in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY should cost about $3000.00, while the same car can be insured for $1200.00 anywhere in Long Island. It’s institutional robbery and slavery. There’s no reason why life insurance premium for a healthy black man is about twice as much as that of a white man. The insurance companies get away with it, because the system is set up to benefit them.
When we talk about financial freedom, we can’t forget about the hurdles that are placed in the paths of black folks. Not to say that some of us can’t jump over these hurdles, but don’t ever believe America has a leveled playing field. They monitor the migration of black people to certain regions, so they can increase premiums. Black folks are taxed so exhaustively, they’ll never be able to catch a breather. Still, we can establish financial freedom by curbing our appetite for bullshit, and avoiding spending money that we don’t have, in order to impress people who don’t have shit like us.
Our spending habit is ridiculous as consumers, and these people understand that. They have behaviorists studying our every habit, in order to find ways to exploit them. There are many companies out there that don’t want to necessarily cater to us, but often find out the hard way after promoting their products for free through our music, word of mouth and social media. Jay Z found out the hard way that Cristal never intended to sell their product to black people. However, rappers everywhere made Cristal part of their lifestyle. We have to stop promoting racist brands, while at the same time, stop wasting our money on bullshit!
Financial freedom has everything to do with minimizing our debt, and investing our money wisely. When you spend frivolously, you’re bound to be broke, no matter how much money you make. A home is an investment, while 20-inch rims are a liability and debt. I’m not advocating that no one should enjoy their life, but if you’re dumb enough to spend $1200.00 at a nightclub or lounge on 2 bottles of liquor that retail for $75.00 at your local liquor store, you are being foolish, and is not part of enjoying life. $1200.00 is enough money to go to Jamaica and many other countries for an all-inclusive vacation for a week. Seeing the world is an investment, because it gives you a broader perspective on life. America is not the world. Don’t get fooled by white people calling the Golden State Warriors “world champions.” They didn’t play against anybody in the world. They played against American teams. The narrative is that America is the world. Don’t live in that cocoon known as America, and believe that it defines the rest of the world.
Financial freedom is not just one thing, but the more you are exposed to, the better you’ll understand the price of financial freedom. We have to stop being wasteful, and we must stop fattening the pockets of white supremacy.