Make Black the Colour of Financial Freedom

By Meegan Scott

Blacks are headed towards a more persistent state of social and economic decline, if not the collapse of black communities. This is the story presented in all the major reports on economic wellbeing and the racial wealth gap— that I have read.

Predictions of our future as a cataclysm is highly probable. And while we can be very confident that such a future is on its way, we are quite capable of preventing it.

This is the hour, decade, and era of the ocean-sized gap in income difference between blacks and other races. Our savings account for little; and we are miles behind in the race for homeownership and educational attainment. Still, we feature prominently in the areas of unemployment and crime. Those results tell us that the risk is impending for us as a people and imminent for many individuals in the black community. Unlike the proverbial frog in boiling water, we know that something is terribly wrong; but many of us are unaware of just how close we are to being boiled alive.

It is likely that our demise lies in a game in which our progress has been deliberately blocked by those who need racial segregation in order to feel relevant. Maybe we have played a major role in “colting” the game ourselves. Irrespective of who has the most blood on their hands, it is now the hour to wake up, risk assess, and fail forward.

But wherein lies the risk and vulnerabilities?  What are the root causes? The risk lies in our failure to recognize and respect the value of money for buying happiness and status while the main vulnerabilities to black economic wellbeing and financial security is rooted in four main areas of failure by blacks as individuals and as a community.  They are as follows:

We have failed to take greater responsibility for our own individual financial security.

We have failed to empower our families to function as strong economic decision-making units and as bases of crime prevention.

We have failed to build the capacity and culture of our institutions and communities to create and accumulate wealth; and to use that wealth to provide equal social and economic opportunities for their members.

We have failed to provide solutions that are accessible, innovative, and relevant to our community for reducing financial risks and growing wealth— instead just enhancing financial literacy.

At the top of our minds should be the risk of illness that robs us of the ability to earn our income; debt and loss of income for surviving children, spouse; and other dependents at death; debt, and missed opportunities that could result from not having emergency funds; and the risk of poverty during retirement.

Can you and I do more to decide our financial security?


The favourite colour of the ethnic marketer is now black. The buying power of blacks in the USA alone was forecasted to reach one trillion by 2015 (Huffington Post).  We consume more ‘bling” and “show” though we earn less than other ethnic groups with similar skills and qualifications.  At the same time, we do not put money to work for earning us more monies. Likewise, we fail to pay ourselves first— by saving even a mere 10 per cent of whatever we earn. Those of us who save first often fail to invest in the right vehicles for maximizing returns.  Some save in informal schemes such as the “partner”, but fail to pay some of that savings into a retirement savings plan; a registered education savings plan; or to invest in productive assets; instead we purchase pricey gadgets and furniture.

We fail to make full use of life insurance for financing our mortgages, growing wealth, and ensuring we are able to care for our loved ones in life and in death. The same is true with regard to protecting our health, and/or for securing our income in the event of illness or disability; or saving for emergencies.  Thus, leaving ourselves open to suffering, missed opportunities, and ridicule for turning to “Go fund me” in the face of life’s sudden but certain eventualities.

Two incomes make it easier to secure a mortgage; homeownership is likely the largest source of equity a family can draw on for growing additional wealth. Two parents generally do better at raising children to become productive citizens and not criminals; yet families are almost outdated.

The status of blacks in society is largely determined by the amount of wealth that we command. George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley), said it this way “Let me tell you something about people. That bartender’s willing to work for me because if you have enough green in your pocket, then black becomes his favourite colour”.

Many black charities are financially challenged; we must position our charities to receive large donations through the use of insurance and trust funds. Affiliation can no longer remain the core of member value that is offered by our civic organizations and charities; the greater focus must be shifted to delivering social and economic opportunities.

Despite the odds, blacks made and sustained significant gains in reducing the wellbeing gap until the late 1980s. Prior to transatlantic slavery, we ruled great kingdoms which led the world in mathematics, medicine, art, and trading.  Blacks were meant to live the good life with purpose, pride, and happiness.

But our salvation lies largely in our own hands. We must act with confidence and trust to support our families, businesses, individuals, and institutions in order to thwart the future predicted and to make black the colour of social and economic wellbeing.  Most of all, we must respect and put our monies to work for us. We must also take a firm stand for ridding our community of crime.

Having eyeballed your own situation, what could you change today for making black the colour of economic wellbeing and financial freedom?

(Meegan Scott is a Jamaica-born Strategic Management Consultant in Toronto)