A few days ago I walked into my Bank of Montreal Branch and there I noticed on the electronic advertising board, an invitation to Black entrepreneurs to come in and talk to them. I stayed a little longer to see it one more time, making sure that I was seeing right. Yes I was.one of the largest Canadian Banks inviting and welcoming specifically Black business people. But in driving home, I wondered if there was a catch to all this. But no, there was no catch. I finally woke up, realizing that if you make enough noise someone, somewhere will hear. Blacks have been complaining about how difficult it is to obtain some help and assistance in their business endeavours from the established banks.
The Federal Government under Prime Minister Trudeau has heard and has contributed substantially to helping Black businesses as a start. It is now for our Black business personnel to respond with care, respecting their responsibility and trust, the Black community must put in them. All of us are watching. But as a Black community, obtaining loans is just the beginning. There has to be a broader picture, that is, building community wealth. The fact that BMO is inviting Black entrepreneurs, obviously to assess their ability to secure a loan, does not change the criteria for obtaining a loan, which is one’s ability to repay that loan. Blackness is never a criteria for obtaining a loan. It may be one for not given a loan. So if in today’s climate of openness, Blackness is a focus for loans, then make sure that all the other conditions are fulfilled. Your Blackness, even when positively viewed, is not enough to guarantee you a loan, and profits to the thousands of shareholders of these banks.. The banks are there to make profits for its shareholders, and that is foremost. So in good times and bad times the banks are making substantial profits. All the more reason for a Black financial institution owned and managed by the Black Community. Not only to provide loans but to create wealth in the process.
Today 2022, in the United States there are at least 735 billionaires. Of these only about 10 are Black, just about 1.4%. So the question is,how can Blacks representing about 10% of the total population, but only 1.4% of its billionaires? Blacks are grossly underrepresented here but grossly overrepresented in the jails and prisons. Some work needs to be done here. When one reads the biographies of these ten Black billionaires, it is heartwarming to know that none of them were born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth. Every single one has experienced failure often more than once, but has kept going oftentime turning failures into positive actions and eventually succeeding.
It was never easy. For the most part, these Black billionaires have returned to their roots and have made large contributions to community activities and charities. Their enterprises have hired many people who share in the success of these individual billionaires. The community is better off with some billionaires if they continue to be a part of it. All of these billionaires are self starters. They are not the recipients of family businesses or hand-me-down wealth. They did it all through hard work and perseverance. Of the ten only three are athletes, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. Money came from the Sports they played and through endorsements. But all three men carefully and skillfully invest heavily,adding income to themselves. Others are, Kanye West, Rehanna, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry in entertainment and business. The others , Jay Z, Robert Smith who quite recently paid off the entire student loan of the graduating class at Morehouse College, and David Steward investing in I T. Many of these billionaires own one or several companies. Is there a Black Canadian billionaire? No. The nearest one is Jamaican born Michael Lee Chin, who lived and invested in both Jamaica and Canada. Yes there are over 50 Canadian billionaires with a net worth of over $100billion.
But Black billionaires are the exceptions. Why do Black people in the U.S. are poor and marginalized?Why are they at the bottom of the barrel? Why Black people are not creating wealth in this very rich country? Prof. Dorothy A. Brown of Emory University, in her very recent book, THE WHITENESS OF WEALTH, gave a few answers. She tells how the U.S. tax system impoverishes Black Americans. She tells us how people who earn more ,pay less taxes, while people who earn less, pay more taxes. People who earn more get more tax breaks, while people who earn less get no tax break at all. Also a Black person with a similar house to that of a white person, will get a lower evaluation. Unemployment among Black Americans is higher than among white Americans, so failure to pay bills, mortgages and other expenses,oftentimes end up in foreclosure or selling at a loss. Comparatively speaking , home ownership amongst white Americans is almost twice that of Blacks. So Blacks lag far behind in the creation of wealth from real estate. Blacks are faced with so many handicaps that fulfilling a basic need becomes a priority and not creating wealth. The deck is stock against the poor , and most Blacks are in that
So the Federal Govt. has made a first grant to the Black community, allow it to grow, i.e. for the benefit of the total community. If individuals are benefited it should be with the aim of moving forward the total community The Community comes before the individual. Or is it the individual before the community? The bottom line is,it is very plain that at this time the Black community needs more than a loan agent. It also needs a vehicle through which wealth will be