Andrew Harmon



Declining Wealth in Black America and What YOU Can Do to Improve YOUR Wealth – Part I

by Jennifer S. Matthews

For this past Black History Month, I was asked to speak about money and finances and tie it to Black History Month. This article is a summary of presentation because the numbers are astounding… so much so that as a people, we are almost going out backwards and it has everything to the with us and not much to do with “the man”. It’s too much information for one article, so I hope you will come back next month for the remainder of the information.  

Let’s look at some numbers and see where we are as a people. In 2010, less than 4 short years ago, there was a ground-breaking study entitled Lifting as we Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future. The study was released by the Center for Community Economic Development and revealed the median wealth for single Blacks women is $5. THAT’S IT! Think about how many Black women are single and raising children! Half of them have accumulated wealth over $5 and half have not accumulated $5 in wealth. This means that if you have more than $5 in your wallet right now, you’re doing better than half of the Black women in America! Instead of me providing a link to the study, I encourage you to Google it and read it.  

The study identified numerous contributing factors including wage disparities, the disproportionate impact of the foreclosure crisis on Blacks, the fact that many of us provide financial support to struggling family and friends, even though we can’t afford it, and other factors. The study explained that these low economics force Black women into debt for essentials like appliance and car repairs. 

Let’s look at Blacks on the other end of the scale, because yes we are there! Out of 1,426 billionaires on the 2013 Forbes list of billionaires, seven (7) are Black. There 35,000 African American millionaires, excluding athletes and entertainers. Dr. Dennis Kimbro interviewed 1,000 of these millionaires and compiled their success secrets into a book entitled, The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires. I encourage you to get his book and read it! Many of the millionaires Dr. Kimbro interviewed, started with little or nothing and worked tirelessly and unceasingly to earn their place among millionaires, regardless of race.  

I assume that most of you reading this article are somewhere in between the $5 median wealth of Black women, and the upper economic class in which the Black millionaires in Dr. Kimbro’s book are found. Now that the spectrum of economic opportunity has been identified, the question is how do you move from where you are right now on the spectrum of opportunity, to where you want to be?  

Asking this question does not mean you truly and sincerely want to become a millionaire, because that’s not everyone’s goal or ambition. However, it’s critically important to know that you definitely can become a millionaire if you do all of the hard work that is required. For everyone else, moving along the spectrum economic opportunity simply means you want more financial stability than you currently have. However, it also must mean that you are willing to do the work required to move you to the point on the spectrum where you want to be.  

Ken Brown, who I personally met before reading about him in Dr. Kimbro’s book, was so poor growing up that his family was evicted ten (10) times before he graduated from high school! Think about the physical and emotional toll on a child moving at least ten (10) in just 18 years! Ken’s parent made certain that he and each of his siblings went to college.  

Ken graduated from college and wanted to own a restaurant, but did not even have enough money to buy a hot dog cart, let alone open a restaurant. However, he chose determination over defeat! He chose his dream over his seeming reality. Ken started waiting tables to learn the restaurant business and to save enough money to buy the hot dog cart that he wanted to be his first food business. Ken never got the hot dog cart; instead he got a McDonald’s franchise! He went from waiter to franchise owner, still without enough of his own money for a hot dog cart! In case you don’t know, it takes more than $1 million to open a McDonald’s franchise.  

I’m sharing Ken’s story because not all millionaires start out with money! And furthermore, Ken will tell you that his payroll bounced not once, but twice, as a McDonald’s owner! I tell you that part because the road is not easy or paved with gold, especially the farther you choose to move down the spectrum of economic opportunity! Ken is now in his early 40s, a millionaire, and the owner of several McDonald’s and other businesses. After you read Dr. Kimbro’s book, read Ken Brown’s book! 

So how do you make the shift in your atmosphere and move yourself along your spectrum of opportunity? Read part II of this article in the next issue to learn what you need to do to get started.  


About the Author: Jennifer S. Matthews is an award-winning author, motivational speaker, and is trained as a financial coach. Her award-winning book 12 Ways to Put Money in Your Pocket Every Month Without A Part Time Job, was also nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award. The book shows readers how to create hundreds of dollars in cash every month from within their existing income. Visit Jennifer online at and sign up for her newsletter. You can also purchase her book, take advantage of free downloads, and much more.

© 2014 Creating Financial Literacy, LLC




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