These are tough economic times, especially for African-Americans, for
whom the unemployment rate is more than 10%. Alarmingly, rather than
belt-tightening, the response has been to spend more. In many poor
neighborhoods, one is likely to notice satellite dishes and expensive
new cars. According to Target Market, a company that tracks black
consumer spending, blacks spends a significant amount of their income on
In 2002, the year the economy nose-dived; we spent
$22.9 billion ($22,900,000,000.00) on clothes,
$3.2 billion ($3,000,000,000.00) on electronics and
$11.6 billion ($11,000,000,000.00) on furniture to put into homes
that,in many cases, were rented.
Among our favorite purchases are cars and liquor.
Blacks make up only 12% of the US population, yet account for 30% of the
country's Scotch consumption. Detroit, which is 80% black, is the
world's No.1 market for Cognac (Pass The Co---------).
So impressed was Lincoln with the $46.7 billion ($46,000,000,000) that
blacks spent on cars that the automaker commissioned Sean "P.Diddy"
Combs, the entertainment and fashion mogul, to design a limited-edition
Navigator replete with six plasma screens, three DVD players and a Sony
Play Station 2.
The only area where blacks seem to be cutting back on spending is books;
total purchases have gone from a high of $356 million in 2000 to $303
million in 2002. This shortsighted behavior, motivated by a desire for
instant gratification and social acceptance, comes at the expense of our
The National Urban League's "State of Black America 2004" report found
that fewer than 50% of black families owned their homes compared with
more than 70% of whites.
According to published reports, the Ariel Mutual Funds/Charles Schwab
2003 Black Investor Survey found that when comparing households where
blacks and whites had roughly the same household incomes, whites saved
nearly 20% more each month for retirement, and 30% of African-Americans
earning $100,000 a year had less than $5,000 in retirement savings.
While 79% of whites invest in the stock market, only 61% of
Certainly, higher rates of unemployment, income disparity and credit
discrimination are financial impediments to the economic vitality of
blacks, but so are our consumer tastes.
By finding the courage to change our spending habits, we might be
surprised at how far the $631 billion ($631,000,000,000.00) we now earn