God created only one race, the human race, in all of its beauty and diversity. We are created equal and none is inferior to or superior to the other. Because of this, the disproportionate financial disparities that exist between white and black populations must be urgently addressed by individuals as well as our institutions.
Many point to the history of horrible injustice toward black people as the cause of the black/white economic gap:
Slave Trade. An estimated 6-7 million Africans were forcibly imported to America in the 17th and 18th centuries.
1921 Black Wall Street Massacre. Mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At that time, it was the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as "Black Wall Street." It has been called "the single worst incident of racial violence in American history."
Jim Crow Laws. State and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by black people during the Reconstruction period.
These events and more are a painful part of American history; unfortunately, the injustice goes much broader and deeper.
Racism in our Classrooms
“Science” is not without guilt, nor are our elite educational institutions when it comes to perpetuating the ugly treatment of other members of the human race based on the color of their skin, now commonly known as “racism.” One of the guiltiest offenders of systemic racism is the perpetuation of the lie of racial inferiority through pseudo-science and the adoption of those prejudiced studies into the educational system itself.
Encyclopedia Britannica says, “racism is defined as any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview… that some races are innately superior to others. Since the late 20th century the notion of biological race has been recognized as a cultural invention, entirely without scientific basis.”
Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution has been adopted as a scientific fact, demonstrated how he believed evolution shaped man in his book The Descent of Man. He theorized that man, having evolved from apes, had continued evolving as various races, with some races more developed than others. Darwin classified his own white race as more advanced than those “lower organisms” such as pygmies, and he called different people groups “savage,” “low,” and “degraded.” Darwin’s theory and beliefs were adopted by our educational systems and used to indoctrinate millions of young minds the world over.
History is filled with high achievers who, in spite of the injustices and systems creating biased and unfavorable circumstances against them, made a profound impact on the world: Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Fredrick Douglas, Nelson Mandela, William Cuffey, Dr. Ben Carson, Jesse Owens, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are prominent examples throughout history. These individuals and countless others have proven Darwin to be profoundly wrong.
Black Finances Matter
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appealed on behalf of poor people for economic justice as a central tenant of his platform. He not only saw the need for civil rights, but for the financial status quo to be reformed as well. In the 52 years since his assassination, we still have a long way to go.
- Household Income: Black employees earn 75% of their white counterparts.
- Wealth: Black median net worth of non-retirees is 1/10th of their white counterparts.
- Home Ownership: Only 44% of black households own their homes compared to nearly 74% of whites. The black homeownership rate has changed little from the late 1960s, while whites have made steady gains over time.
- Predatory Loans: Lenders issued high-cost loans to 58% of low-income black individuals as compared to only 28% of low-income white individuals.
Resolving economic inequalities was paramount to MLK Jr.'s mission to bring justice for all. His work was only the beginning, and it is ours to carry on today.
Generosity is love made tangible. Let’s generously love our neighbors by taking action.
- Through genuine friendship, enter into open conversations and learn.
- Educate yourself to be aware of systemic racism.
- Become educated on the financial challenges hurting black communities.
- Consider helping with practical needs within your network such as car repairs, banking, tutoring, and financial connections.
- Consider a no-interest loan to pay off predatory loans or emergency needs.
- Offer and support financial education in schools, churches and businesses.
- Offer internships or on-the-job training.
- Provide support with resume building and networking.
- Examine your staff, leadership team and board for opportunities to hire more people of color.
Dr. King’s world-changing speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial still echoes in our hearts today:
“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing…”
“Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Let’s be that generation – the one that lets economic freedom ring from sea to shining sea.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.