F. Scott Fitzgerald surmised in his essay, The Crack-Up, that it takes great acumen to hold in the mind contrasting truths and still be able to function.
For the black community, one truth is that our middle class is growing, and our children are attending college in record numbers.
Another truth is that despite this progress, too many blacks remain unemployed or underemployed. Too many do not save or invest. Too many buy luxuries they cannot afford.
The result: a continuing economic crackup in the black community.
While we’re busy trying to change the culture, other groups are passing us by.
Consider the findings of a study in October by the Pew Hispanic Foundation:
- The net worth of whites is 11 times that of blacks.
- Hispanics, who, as a group, have less education, take lower-paying jobs and, in many instances, are recent immigrants who don’t speak English, have a greater net worth ($7,900) than blacks ($6,000).
While whites’ median income of $47,800 is only 1.6 times the $29,600 that blacks earn, whites generally inherit more wealth and have less debt.
Hispanic households earn more ($33,000) than blacks ($29,600), have less debt and are neck and neck with blacks in terms of homeownership.
This is true, in part, because Hispanics tend to have more workers living in the same household, according to Rakesh Kochhar, author of the Pew study. But it also can be attributed to Hispanics’ willingness to work harder, longer and do with less in order to gain a foothold into economic stability.
African-Americans have been trying to build a sandcastle. While we have managed to keep the waves of racism and injustice somewhat at bay, we haven’t figured out how to keep the sand from running through our fingers.
More Hispanics have. They’re willing to take more humble jobs and live with fewer luxuries.
In November, the U.S. unemployment rate for blacks was 10.8% compared with 6.7% for Hispanics and 4.7% for whites.
Too many blacks, on the other hand, want vacations and designer items even though second jobs and penny- pinching are required.
Rather than spend ourselves into arrears this Christmas, we’d be better served by making a plan to be debt-free with equity.
To do otherwise seems a little crazy.
Yolanda Young hosts the video blog, spadeproject.com.