Yet another “shocking” report, “The Ever Growing Gap,” came out recently. It was featured in mainstream newspapers, small hometown newspapers, and online newspapers. The ominous headline stated, “It will take Black families 228 years to earn the same amount of wealth White families have today.” Well, here’s another newsflash: “We already know that.”
While we have not counted the years it would take, we know that working for wealth equality is futile and merely serves as a deflection that causes Black people to spend our precious time on a quixotic mission. E. Franklin Raines and Willie Herenton, former mayor of Memphis, Tenn., noted similar stats more than a decade ago.
Every so often revelations like this latest one come out to keep Black people mired in our current situation. The more drastic and terrible the information the more apathetic and pathetic we become. “What’s the use in trying?” The man ain’t gonna let us do anything anyway.” Thus, we sit back and allow our “pleaders” to continue to beg for protection from political candidates, such as the national NAACP recently called on them to “pledge to protect and preserve our lives.” Say what? Is that the best we can get from our supposedly powerful civil rights organization? Oh yes, I forgot. They also tell us to register and vote our way out of our misery.
We don’t need “pleaders,” we need authentic, fearless, unapologetic, honest leaders, who will not succumb to foreboding statistical “revelation” but will provide the “elevation” Black people must have in order to take care of ourselves with the resources we already have. While we are wringing our hands about being 228 years behind in wealth, and some of us truly believing that politicians can and will turn that trend around, other groups are running right past us, not worrying about meeting the elusive goal of equality. The proof of that is also in the same report that speaks to our financial demise.
It says, “Over the last thirty years, the racial wealth divide has grown. If average Black wealth grows at the same rate it has over the last thirty years, it will be 228 years before it equals the amount of wealth possessed by White households today” This is only 17 years shorter than the institution of slavery in the U.S., which lasted 245 years. For Latinos, it will take 84 years.”
Notice the last sentence in the above paragraph, Black folks. Compare 228 years to 84 years and ask yourself, “How is that possible?” No, they did not suffer 245 years of enslavement as we did, but that same truth can and should be used by our people today, with our tremendous cache of intellectual and financial resources, as an incentive to work even harder on elevation and not be sidelined by the latest revelation about how bad things are for our people.
Our POTUS says the income gap, not the wealth gap, is, “the defining challenge of our time…” Of course, he was not just speaking about Black income, but his words continue to ring true years after he made that statement; but where is the change? He blamed much of that on the politicians, and we fell for it once again, thinking they would eventually do the right thing and help us rise to financial utopia. They would have done it a long time ago, if that were so.
Let’s get this straight, brothers and sisters. A redistribution of wealth, which is what it would take, is not going to happen. MLK called for that more than 50 years ago, yet over the past 50 years we have gone down rather up. White folks may give up the political wheel of this ship of state, but they will never acquiesce, agree, or willingly participate in any effort to cut that 228 year period even in half, much less make it even. Most of their wealth, while earned from the free labor their ancestors enjoyed when we were brought here, is locked down in generational inheritances. Do you really think they will all of a sudden get religion and give that up? Puleeezze!
I say enough with “Black Pleadership” that is only concerned about their own elevation as they bow down before their masters and plead to be protected and preserved. I say, no more revelations in reports that provide huge income to those who write them, reports that end up on the trash heap of time that was wasted by Black folks complaining about their contents.
If wealth and income gaps are the “defining challenges of our time” then let’s get busy behind real leaders who are willing and able to work with us toward elevation rather than getting stuck reading the voluminous pages of repeated revelation.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He can be reached through his website, blackonomics.com. He is the author of Black Dollars Matter: Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense, which is available through his website; professionalpublishinghouse.com and Amazon Kindle eBooks.