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Race and Money – Michelle Singletary Calls Out Comparative Studies

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Michelle Singletary’s the Color of Money column in the Washington Post has been a must read for me for ages.

In her October 21st column, Michelle decided to tackle the issue of a financial report issued by two leading fund managers.

For 10 years, Ariel Mutual Funds and Charles Schwab have issued an annual report on the saving and investing habits of middle- and upper-income blacks.

The survey throws a spotlight on the progress of black money-management skills — or lack of progress. It also compares the investing behavior of blacks and whites.

Like many others, I’ve often found reason to comment on the results of the surveys. But now I wonder about the value of comparing the two groups. What exactly do we learn that can help change decades of economic differences? Do these surveys just perpetuate the notion that blacks aren’t taking care of business?

In a special “black paper” marking the 10th anniversary of their survey, Ariel and Schwab came to a sober conclusion. “For middle-class African-Americans,” the report said, “the march toward financial security has been an uphill journey marked by half steps, pauses and, for some, retreat. . . . The results consistently show that blacks save less than whites of similar income levels and are less comfortable with stock investing, which impedes wealth-building across generations and contributes to an impending retirement crisis in the African-American community.”

Interesting. Yet another financial crisis rocks the black community. In addition to high interest payday loans,and the subprime mortage fiasco, retirement savings spells another impending crisis for African-Americans. Or does it?

Michelle then summarizes the survey, highlighting:

This year’s Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey found that blacks had median investments of $48,000, compared with $100,000 for whites. The survey looks at blacks and whites who earn more than $50,000 annually.

When Schwab and the Chicago-based Ariel, a black-run mutual fund company, first teamed in 1998, 57 percent of blacks and 81 percent of whites said they owned individual stocks or stock mutual funds.

A decade later, that percentage still stands at 57 percent for blacks and has dropped to 76 percent for whites.

For the first time, Ariel and Schwab looked at middle- and upper-income black and white retirees. The survey found that retired blacks had a median invested savings of $73,000, compared with $210,000 for whites.

So, from the results of this survey, one would surmise that African-Americans are not saving and are putting themselves in a much more precarious position than their white counterparts. However, “one” is not Michelle Singletary. She keeps digging, focusing on one question in the report in particular: Continue reading

Are you wearing red today?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Learn more about the Wear Red campaign and how you can lend your support:

In a Litany of Survival, Audre Lorde writes, “When we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” These words shape our collective organizing to break the silence surrounding women of color’s stories of violence. We are asking for community groups, grass-root organizations, college campus students and groups, communities of faith, online communities, and individuals to join us in speaking out against violence against women of color. If we speak, we cannot be invisible.