On Saturday, during the first day of the Wealth & Power segment the 2020 Essence Festival of Culture, Richelieu Dennis, ESSENCE Ventures CEO, Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York City, gathered to talk economic equity and how to eliminate the racial wealth gap with ESSENCE’s News & Politics Editor Tanya A. Christian.
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“Black and brown communities only achieve financial equity when their communities are healthy in every way,” said McCray, at the start of the conversation.
When asked how we as a community can cultivate financial growth and stability, Dennis noted that it boils down to the who, why, where, when, and what factors.
“I think for us, the first thing is really thinking through who we spend our money with and why we spend our money and where we spend our money,” he said. “The second thing is when we do spend our money, what is it used for? Are we holding the people that we spend our money with accountable to furthering the issues that protect us, that make us safe, that develop our communities, that educate our children?”
After being asked about their views state of Black businesses after the pandemic, McCray didn’t hold back.
“We know that this pandemic has hit Black businesses hard and many of them will not come back,” she said. “There was a study done recently by the University of California that showed that more than 40 percent of Black business owners reported that they weren’t working in April, when their businesses were feeling the worst of the pandemic, and only 17 percent of white small business owners said the same thing. So that’s just an indication of, the disparity that exists in our country.”
While much was discussed during the nearly 30-minute conversation, when it came to economic equity and its impact on the racial wealth gap Morial broke it down.
“The racial wealth gap in this country has widened in the last 20 years. The level of Black homeownership has lessened in the last 20 years. Indeed, we are back to where we were some 40 to 50 years ago,” he said.
“Economic equity is all about people’s ability to improve their quality of life, the quality of life for their family and the quality of life for the overall African-American community in this country, to live in a better home, that one has an opportunity to own. To be able to accumulate savings, investments and assets.”
Morial also pointed out the necessity for our community to be able to build scalable businesses that can grow.
For more, check out the video above!
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