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I’m Black and I’m a Member of the 1%

For every dollar of wealth held by the typical white household, the typical Black household owns only 6 cents of wealth. To make it on to the list of the of the top 1% of wealthiest Americans, you would have to possess a minimum fortune of $7,869,549.00 to make the cut. Black families account for only 1.7% of the top richest 1% in America. With a history of forcibly providing free labor in America from the days of slavery to the modern-day prison system, Blacks have been severely hampered from generating wealth, which is generally passed from generation to generation.

On the list of the top 1% is Mr. Eddie Brown and his wife, Sylvia. As the CEO of Brown Capital Management, Mr. Brown’s company holds over $8 billion in managed assets. He believes it’s unrealistic when people say you have to ‘pull yourself up by your boot-straps’ when in a lot of cases you don’t have boots to begin with. The Browns feel very strongly that Black people who become successful have an obligation to give back to helping others advance. They believe that home-ownership is a key component of building wealth and they talked about obstacles they faced while selling various properties. At one point, a realtor advised them that they should take down family photos in their house, so that potential white buyers wouldn’t know the home is owned by a Black person.

One stat that shows the vast wealth gap that exist between Blacks and whites in America is the median household net worth of college graduates and non-graduates. A Black college educated household has a net worth of approximately $32,780 versus a non-graduate degree white household’s net worth of $80,692. So even with a college degree, a Black family has 60% less wealth than a white family who didn’t graduate from college.

Ms. Sheila Johnson who along with her husband, Robert Johnson, founded the BET television network, spoke about the way you are viewed as a Black person no matter how much money you possess. In addition, Ms. Johnson talked about the loneliness that accompanies being a wealthy Black person in America because they are so few Blacks in that elite group. She said it’s incumbent upon Blacks who become successful and gain a level of ‘power’, to feel secure in themselves and reach out to help others. “That’s the only way we are going to get stronger,” Ms. Johnson said.

To learn more about investing with Brown Capital Management, click here.

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