It’s a well known fact that African Americans spend billions of dollars annually on just about every product known to man. A lot of this spending is out of our discretionary income and never sees its way into a bank account, which helps to widen the wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in this country. Even with over a trillion dollars in buying power, the actual wealth gap continues to grow because that money is hardly ever saved by us.
Why is that?
Experts have asked this question for the past few decades and no one seems to be able to pinpoint the reason why we spend so much of our income on material things. The reason why no one has been able to accurately pinpoint where the problem starts is because they all use a reductionist method to draw a conclusion, well basically they tackle the situation from the issue and then seek to walk it backwards to the answer.
That method does work, but the problem with it is that in order to do it like that, you have to already have a foregone conclusion at hand. I.E, Blacks don’t save money because they don’t know a lot about financial things. Take that conclusion, break it down and there it is, the answer. We’re not taught about finances at an early enough stage, that’s why we don’t build wealth, case closed right. Wrong! Well that’s at least a portion of the answer, lack of financial knowledge.
This method could be applied to numerous things and low and behold they will all reduce to the answer that the experimenter was looking for in the first place, and if it doesn’t they’ll change variables until the desired result is reached. Yeah, we’ve figured it out!
But at the end of the day, they all fall short of the real culprit!
The real reason that Black people don’t save for the future and build wealth on an overall basis is due to what they have been taught, not what they haven’t been taught!
Let’s break down what we’ve been taught. This begins very early in life and by the time you are a teenager, you have been thoroughly brainwashed to have these thought patterns ingrained in your conscious output.
The very first thing that we are taught starts a church, yep. Good ole Christian upbringings are the very first culprit in why we, Black people don’t seek to save and build wealth.
You are taught that tomorrow isn’t promised to you. With this being ingrained in you as early as the first time that your mother or father takes you to church, you are being bombarded with this message at least once a week until you’re old enough to tell your parents that you don’t want to go anymore. But by that time you have been subconsciously storing that message in your brain for 10 plus years.
The next thing that Christianity is teaching you during this time period is that you should not seek to store up riches on this earth; you should store them in heaven, which is consciously and subconsciously saying that your riches will come at death!
Another thing is that Christianity tells you to give 10% of your income to the church before you give it to yourself. They actually want you to give 10% of your net income per check, not what you have left over after you pay your bills or yourself in a savings account. They seek to shame people into giving by saying that you’re stealing from God if you don’t give off the top of your income, as opposed to the bottom after you pay bills.
Then on top of that, money being called the root of all evil, and the various places in the bible that reference money as a bad thing, you see the type of picture that is being painted. And all this is being done during the early stages of your understanding, which means that it will later be a part of your subconscious thought, without ever knowing it, you are being taught to think a certain way about money.
The next thing that occurs in the Black community is the environmental conditioning of your peers, teachers (at school and on the street) and other stimuli like TV, Radio and Music!
Any Black male that lives in the inner city will recite this saying as fact; “That the life expectancy of a Black male in the inner city is 25 years of age”!
That’s it, 25 years old, and if you make it pass that, you’re lucky. This is the all done through the news, what they see in their communities and the fact that the music that they listen too continues to warn them that they can be killed at any given moment. Not only by Black gang members, but by police officers and any scared white man now. What do you think that does to their psyche?
This is why you’ll hear so many young Black kids say that they are “just trying to survive”, “it’s the survival of the fittest”, or taking Malcolm X’s “By Any Means Necessary” quote out of context. Another popular saying is “I ain’t never seen a Brinks truck following a hearse”, meaning you can’t take all that money you saved with you when you die.
Couple this understanding with the Christian thought pattern about tomorrow isn’t promised to you and you quickly can see why we act and behave the way we do about saving money or building wealth.
So what do you do with all the money you make, spend it before you die? And what do you subconsciously think about how long you will live, 25 years!
Then the final conditioning method is the constant barrage of stuff that you should buy, being crammed into your brain via advertising. They quickly and constantly let you know that you should have this or that if you consider yourself this or that. From huge billboards, to ads in papers and magazines, to radio and TV, to the internet and on a subliminal level, through the music.
At the end of the day, in the mind of a young Black person you start to think that you should have this, or you should have that, because your favorite entertainer said you should. But how do you get that? By Any Means Necessary is usually the answer, this is also the methodology used to create the prison pipeline system, but that’s another post.
So by the age of 10 you’ve been conditioned to believe you can die any day, because God reserves the right to snatch your life away at any moment. You’re now going into some of your most formative years of your life, the tween and teenager years, you now start seeing friends die from gang violence, and you are being told that you might not live to 25 years old. So the ominous 25 years stat, and tomorrow isn’t promised to you become fact.
It’s now a fact of life that you might not see 25, but guess what, during these same years, you have been constantly inundated with message after message about material things, and understandings like “survival of the fittest”, “on the strong survive”, and “by any means necessary” have become part of your everyday thought pattern also. So the logical steps taken after growing up with these type of thought patterns as the basis of your understandings leads you to this.
Why am I trying to save the money I make if I could die at any given moment?
And not only is it a subconscious understanding, I’m seeing it play out daily right in front of me on a conscious level. Young people are dying, the “coolest” people, having the most “fun” are the ones spending their money on the new Jordan’s, Louis Vuitton, Weezy’s, True Religion, and turning up every day. So guess what I’m going to do, the same damn thing, because I could die at any minute and when I die I can’t take it with me.