As the New Year rolls in many of us are busy making promises to lose weight, stop smoking, or eliminate debt. But what if we could create New Year’s resolutions for Black America? What are some of the things we could do as a community to make Black America wiser, richer and healthier? Here are a few of my suggestions. What are yours?
1. Let’s stop making others rich before building our own wealth.
Lew Frankford, CEO of Coach, enjoys life in his sprawling 6,500 square-foot, five-floor penthouse apartment that rises above the Manhattan skyline. But of course he can afford it. Our purchases of Coach handbags, wallets and shoes pay his lofty $65 million dollar salary.
African-American buying power is expected to reach $1.1 trillion dollars by the year 2015, but for every dollar of wealth held by white families, black families possess only a nickel. Yet, we continue to spend money to sport the logos of Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Tiffany’s and others while failing to build our own nest eggs.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently evil about flashing Gucci or pushing a Mercedes, but building our own bank accounts should be the first priority before we add to the wealth of CEOs and corporate shareholders.
In 2012, why not make it a regular habit to scrutinize your purchases? Ask yourself, “Am I working to make myself wealthy, or am I working to pay for someone else’s Manhattan penthouse?”
2. Let’s focus on the political issues that will affect our pocketbooks.
With Congress bickering and seemingly getting nothing accomplished it’s easy to become disillusioned with politics. But instead of becoming discouraged and disengaged from the political process, 2012 will require us to become more involved than ever before. Our financial futures depend on it.
Presidential candidates have declared their intentions to change Medicare as we know it, a move that could potentially leave millions of elderly black Americans unable to afford even the most basic of healthcare. Pell Grants that aid lower income students are under constant Congressional assault and many politicians are perpetually fighting the extension of unemployment benefits.
Yes, with the gridlock and hypocrisy swirling around Washington it’s easy to throw your hands in the air and be done with it all, but in 2012, as the elections draw near, it’s more important than ever for us to stay abreast of the political issues and the politicians who will affect our pocketbooks for years to come.
3. Let’s learn to appreciate what we have.
In a country where a pair of sneakers can cost more than $100, it’s easy to forget that most of the planet lives on less than $2 a day. As Americans we’ve hit the global jackpot. Even the poorest among us enjoy luxuries and conveniences that would make the rest of the world envious.
We’re blessed with clean drinking water in abundance. When we turn on the lights, we’re confident there will be electricity to make them work. Starvation is not a daily concern and we walk the streets free from the terror of suicide bombers or the threat of bullets from our own military. In some parts of the world women live under the threat of mass rapes, children are conscripted into rebel armies and practitioners of certain religions are persecuted.
It’s easy to become obsessed with what we don’t have. Taking time to appreciate the blessings we do enjoy is another.
Why not start off 2012 by creating a gratitude journal? Each night before bed record the things, large and small, you’re grateful for. An attitude of gratitude is the best defense against rampant commercialism and a pile of debt.
BMKW, what are some of your New Year’s Resolutions for Black America?