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Examining historic Black businesses, the wealth gap, financial literacy | Afro

Examining historic Black businesses, the wealth gap, financial literacy | Afro

Frances “Toni” Draper, AFRO CEO and Publisher

Over ten years ago, Black Enterprise magazine published what I’m calling Ten Wealth Principles: 

  1. l will live within my means.
  2. I will maximize my income potential through education and training.
  3. I will effectively manage my budget, credit debt and training. 
  4. I will save at least 10% of my income.
  5. I will use home ownership as a foundation for building wealth. 
  6. I will devise an investment plan for my retirement needs and children’s education.
  7. I will ensure that my entire family adheres to sensible money management principles.
  8. I will support the creation and growth of minority-owned businesses. 
  9. I will guarantee my wealth is passed on to future generations through proper insurance and estate planning. 
  10. I will strengthen my community through philanthropy.

These are solid wealth principles that many African-American families strive to follow. Yet, according to, “the net worth of a typical White family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family.” This is not because Black families are not interested in accumulating wealth. Often it is because of the racist structures and systems that hinder wealth accumulation. From enslavement to the annihilation of Tulsa’s Greenwood District a.k.a. Black Wall Street, to oppressive Jim Crow laws, the wealth gap between Blacks and Whites continues to widen. In addition to these systemic barriers, too often we are not taught how to save, how to invest, how to purchase a home, how to prepare and execute a budget or how to leave something for the next generation. 

 “We are acutely aware of our ancestors’ expectations that we will scale opportunity for our children and our children’s children, as they have endeavored to do for us. With this in mind, we are intensely focused on the creation and preservation of Black family wealth. Dire predictions suggest that median Black wealth in the U.S. will reach ZERO by the year 2053. We have come too far as a people to allow these predictions to materialize,” write Robin and Portia Wood, a mother-daughter legal team specializing in estate planning, child guardianship planning, trust administration and probate litigation. (

In this edition, our writers examine Black wealth from a variety of viewpoints including financial literacy, the journeys of Black billionaires and the popularity of African Savings Clubs. Recognizing that wealth, for some, does not always mean money, we also asked members of the AFRO team to describe “what constitutes wealth” in their lives. For some wealth is measured by the rich and varied relationships they have with God and with one another. For others, good health is wealth. And for others, peace and tranquility equal wealth. Regardless of your definition of wealth, we hope you enjoy this special “We’re Still Here” edition.   

Frances “Toni” Murphy Draper 

CEO and publisher of the AFRO

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