The historic impact of racism and slavery in the Black community continues to have a long-lasting effect on the economic growth of Black Americans. While some strides have been made, there are areas where progress has continued to decline. Black people along with non-black allies must take accountability and ownership in improving the plight of the Black community. The time has come to unite and forge a pathway to address the issues at hand and be determined to fight for that which will result in generational change. Black people must understand what is at stake, what can be done, and how to start facilitating the necessary changes. The power is in the hands of Black people and non-black allies to make the necessary changes for the Black community. If headway is not made within the next year, the odds are that it will never be made.
According to the Institute of Policy Studies, it will take Blacks 228 years to close the racial wealth gap. As of 2016, the average black American family had total wealth of $17,600—about one-tenth the wealth of the average white American family, which stands at $171,000. Close to 30 percent of black families live below the poverty line and the unemployment rate for Black Americans remains about twice that of whites. While Blacks are struggling to build wealth, they are still spending money, and currently have a $1.2 trillion buying power. It is critical that Black people along with non-black allies seek systematic changes through politics and policy to remove the barriers that are impacting their ability to increase their incomes and attain wealth.
It is time to come together as a whole, unite as a community and begin to craft solutions that are centered around the roots of the problems in the black community. Black people, along with non-black allies must become serious about thoroughly educating the black community, even if this means knocking on one door at a time. In order for there to be progress, there must be a pipeline of well-trained individuals that will become candidates who are properly equipped to fill the hundreds of seats that become available every election cycle. It is critical that black people become educated on the legislative and lobbying process. Black people need to, through education and training, become more sophisticated in the approach to both politics and policy.
Black voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election was 59.6% (and lower percentages for “down ticket” races). The Black community has to do better! Black Americans have to register to vote, seek to become more educated on propositions and candidates, and vote at a rate of at least 80%. Given that Black Americans represent a smaller percentage of the population overall, increasing voter participation is critical to have a larger impact on the electoral process. Not liking the candidate options is not an excuse to not vote. Black people along with non-black allies must find people and train them to run for office. The Black community simply cannot choose not to vote and think the issues will somehow fix themselves. Now is the time to become engaged as if it were a matter of life or death. Now is the time to become informed, involved, and impactful.