The Times are Challenging…

But… We Have Options, If We Have Hope On some levels, we are starting from scratch as a Black community today

We are facing one of the most challenging financial periods of our history. Many of us have never recovered from the Great Recession that technically ended in 2013. Our homeownership rates remain low. Our debt levels remain high. Our unemployment is twice that of white America. And our rate of business failures due to the pandemic is rising every day.

The federal government’s unwillingness to extend socalled stimulus benefits beyond their initial funding is an unconscionable act from which ordinary people and small business owners will take years to recover. Policymakers who consider some corporations too big to fail, making them eligible for unlimited public support when in trouble, should also see small businesses as too necessary to fail since they create most new jobs.

The current pandemic has devastated Black-owned small businesses. One of the ironic realities about the legal, racial segregation we experienced between slavery and the end of the 1960s is that racial restrictions benefited Black businesses. There was no need to challenge Black people to support Black business because we either had no other choices or had such a spirit of racial uplift that we supported our businesses as a form of resistance to racism. Next year we will pause to review the 100th anniversary of the events that occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921. The Greenwood section of Tulsa, dubbed “Black Wall Street” because of its thriving economy —Black-owned hotel, Black-owned restaurants, six Black-owned private airplanes, Black-owned apartment building. It engendered such hatred among white racists they burned that Greenwood section to the ground. What is so phenomenal is that the Black community developed such a vibrant Black economy despite the racial hatred that existed in Oklahoma.

On some levels, we are starting from scratch as a Black community today. Despite the resurgence of explicit racial hatred and seemingly growing anti-Black animosity, we have opportunities to grow our individual incomes and community economic capacity. In 2021, our dfree® movement will continue to teach people how to achieve financial freedom by beginning with reducing and eliminating personal debt. I am still committed to helping 100,000 Black people pay down $10,000 of debt and producing $1 billion worth of Black wealth by doing so. However, we will emphasize incomeproducing strategies to create immediate benefits for those who understand the need for capital to attain success in a capitalist system. From real estate ownership and development to creating online affiliate strategies, we are not without options if we have hope….

The murder of George Floyd has caused many white Americans and white-led institutions to think new thoughts, make new statements, and take new actions related to their relationships with Black people. The same introspection and discovery process must take place among Black people as we consider the status of our relationships with one another.

Reverend Soaries is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (FBCLG) in Somerset, New Jersey and founder of dfree® Financial Freedom Movement.