There are more than 9,000 Black public officials in America, yet African-Americans remain at the rock bottom of every negative statistic in crime, health, economics and education.
This is the reason that one lecturer and award-winning author says the Black community must pay equal attention to business ownership, economic development and wealth as it does to political empowerment.
"Your wealth will determine where you live, where you live will determine where your children go to school, where your children go to school will determine the quality of your children's higher education; and the quality of your children's higher education will determine your children's life-long earnings," George Fraser told a group at last week's State of the Black World Conference at Howard University. "And your children's life-long earnings will determine where your grandchildren live and where your grandchildren live will determine where your grandchildren will go to school and where your grandchildren go to school will determine the quality of their higher education and their life-long earnings. Do you understand the cycle of poverty here?"
Fraser was one of dozens of speakers during the conference that drew more than 300 people. Other high profiled names included Susan Taylor, Julianne Malveaux, Elsie Scott, Melanie Campbell, George Curry, Hilary Shelton, and Jeff Johnson
In a session on economics, Fraser pinpointed what he says is the number one issue that Blacks should be dealing with – Black wealth.
"We are not poor. We're just broke," he told the audience, some of whom shouted "Speak!" "Tell the Truth!" and other words of agreement. Some even moaned, rocked and shook their heads as he spoke. "We have a $900 billion annual economy. If we were a nation, we'd be the fourteenth richest nation in the world."
Fraser said with the "intellectual capital" in the Black community, there is no reason that African-Americans should be as economically destitute as they are. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, 25 percent of African-Americans live below the poverty level and fewer than 5 percent of small businesses are owned by Black people. Yet, Fraser estimated that Blacks have multiplied W.E.B DuBois' dream of the talented tenth more than 70 times when counting the number of African-Americans with college degrees.
Fraser was one of dozens of speakers during the conference that drew more than 300 people. Other high profiled names included Susan Taylor, Julianne Malveaux, Elsie Scott, Melanie Campbell, George Curry, Hilary Shelton, and Jeff Johnson.
Fraser's econonics message comes as African-Americans are hoping that President Barack Obama will do something special to deal with the Black jobless rate, which remains in double digits even as the national average has dipped below 8 percent. Fraser says it is unfair to put pressure sole on politicians and challenged the audience to take a lesson from communities of Jews, Asians, East Indians, and Arabs.
"Every immigrant group that has ever come to this country is now the number one employers of their own people," he stressed. "We too must become the number one employers of our own people. Why? Because the only way to raise up the poor is to create work and jobs for your own people."
Announcing an entrepreneurship conference he is holding this summer, Fraser said he believes it will take a full century for African-Americans to gain the strength that they could have by establishing their own businesses, employing each other and supporting each other economically. But the key is unity, he says.
"The idea that the Black community can exercise affective power – political or otherwise – without simultaneously exercising economic power is fantasy...So, we have to make sure we fix this," he said. "When we were unified around slavery, we freed ourselves...We were unified around civil rights, voting rights and public access in media...We have to be unified now around building wealth...We have everything we need to succeed except each other."