The top three priorities for the Black community in 2020

Build generational wealth

Wealth in the US is unequally distributed by race. This phenomenon is most evident when the average wealth of Black Americans is compared to that of White Americans. According to Federal Reserve, the median and mean net worth for Black families is $17,600 and $138,200 vs $171,000 and $933,700 respectively for White families. These statistics indicate that Black families have less than 15 percent of the wealth of White families. The literature has noted several factors that have contributed to these stark differences including: (1) racial discrimination in housing policies, (2) labor market discrimination, (3) credit and student loan debt, (4) limited access to tax-advantaged forms of savings, and (5) a lack of life insurance. In 2020, we must work towards reducing the wealth gap, knowing that the odds are stacked against us, by: (1) using our political voice and action to fight against discriminatory housing policies, (2) pooling our resources to promote entrepreneurship and land/home ownership, (3) be intentional in our savings, retirement, and debt management, and (4) securing viable life insurance to ensure future generations are not saddle with our debt and have a foundation of financial security to build their own entrepreneurial efforts.  

Take care of our physical and mental health

Factors such as race related stress, limited access to healthy foods, and housing discrimination have contributed to a significant lower life expectancy for Black people compared to other racial groups. For example, the average Black individual can expect to live 10-12 years less than their White counterparts. Additionally, the quality of the years lived by Black people is negatively impacted by chronic illness (e.g., heart disease and diabetes) and environmental factors (e.g., community violence, proximity to pollution). Furthermore, in the last decade we have witnessed a rise in both the number of Black people experiencing mental illness as well as the stigma associated with seeking professional help. Many Black individuals, young and old, are feeling a profound sense of hopelessness that is contributing to increasing instances of suicide. In 2020, we owe it to ourselves, our families and our people to take better care of our physical and mental health. We can accomplish this by: (1) getting a mental health check up (even if we don’t have a mental illness), (2)  getting a full medical workup, (3) practicing intentional self-care, (4) engaging in purposeful healing for racial trauma, and (5) being a source of encouragement to the Black people around us to ask for help if they need it.

Advocate for quality education for our children

 Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” For many Black individuals’ education (in all its many forms) has served as the bridge from poverty to generational wealth. Additionally, education has helped us to refine our entrepreneurial and innovation skills. However, with the creation of the school to prison pipeline, funneling of dollars out of urban and public schools, crushing student loan debt that disproportionately affects Black students, and the perpetuation of falsities about the academic achievement capabilities of Black youth, fewer Black individuals are able to fully realize the benefits of a quality education. In 2020, we owe it to our children to fight for their access to a quality education whether it be K-12, college/university, or vocational. We can accomplish this by: (1) maintaining active attendance at school board and PTA/PTO meetings, (2) developing a meaningful working relationship with your child’s teachers, (3) advocating for alternative disciplinary practices, and (4) advocating for culturally responsive teaching practices.   

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