There is a lot going on that has me thinking about money and wealth from different perspectives this week. Here’s a snapshot of my reflections.
The Price of War
We started the week with Memorial Day. A day to honor the military lives lost during their military duties. I had two grandpas that were in the military, neither dying during their time in the military, but certainly reflecting upon it. Like many grandpas, my Pops read military books and watched military documentaries. He was proud of his service. About 20 years ago I asked him, is it your wish for one of your grandkids to serve in the military? He quickly replied no, he would no sooner reenlist himself if he could save his family members from going into battle.
My last apartment in Chicago had a view of the annual Air and Water Show. For the week leading up to the actual show, the Blue Angels and others would practice. It was always a bit alarming and unsettling when the first fighter jets would fly above. I would have to remind myself it’s just practice for the Air show. It always brought me back to 9/11, the day I vividly remember an act of war being inflicted on US soil. The fear that we were under attack. The unknown of what could be next. Another air strike or bombing. And I would be reminded that there are innocent people living in war torn countries feeling this daily.
Those living in war-torn countries are burdened with rebuilding their homes and communities after every bomb attack. They are subject to their belongings being stolen and ruined. It is not safe. And with borders closing and the cost of moving, they don’t easily have options to leave.
We want to live in peace. We do our best to live in safe neighborhoods where our families can thrive. We utilize our money to build healthier and wealthier communities.
The price of war. We started this week honoring the lives lost during military duty, which is the highest price of war. In addition, consider the price of military service people with military injuries, PTSD, and trauma. From a dollar perspective, according to Statista.com, “The United States led the ranking of countries with highest military spending in 2020, with 778 billion U.S. dollars dedicated to the military. That constituted 39 percent of the total military spending worldwide that year, which amounted to 1.98 trillion U.S. dollars.”
This is not a pro- or anti-military post. This is a reflection point on the price of war. I am grateful for those that have worked to enhance and preserve our freedoms. I’m grateful to live in the US where there is closer gender equality than in other countries. I have been given the opportunity to build wealth: buy a home as a single woman, maintain my retirement accounts, start a business, buy a business, and so on.
The Tulsa Race Massacre and Racial Inequality
I spent my summers visiting my grandparents in Oklahoma City as a kid. I have so many wonderful OK memories and feel connected to the state. A few years ago when I learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre, I was deeply upset.
One hundred years ago, there was a healthy and wealthy community in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa. Post-emancipation, successful Black entrepreneurs and their families moved to “Black Wall Street.” Every dollar was spent within Greenwood THIRTY times before leaving the neighborhood.
Side note: In the first episode of “Trigger Warning with Killer Mike: Living Black,” Killer Mike spends three days using and consuming products that come from the black economy. In this episode, he shares that the Asian community can keep recirculating their dollar within their community for 28 days, white communities 23 days, Jewish communities 21 days, and black communities….6 hours. Now back to Tulsa…
From May 31, 1921 to June 1, 1921, the neighborhood of Greenwood was burned to the ground. It’s estimated 300 neighbors were murdered, 800 residents were admitted to the hospital, and 6,000 residents were displaced. However, officials recorded that the massacre left 39 dead, 26 Black and 13 White.
The wealth of this community was stolen from its residents. From businesses and homes burned to the ground to precious belongings stolen and damaged, nearly all was lost. It was this event, and events like this across the country, that disrupted and damaged intergenerational wealth in Black families.
Understanding the history of Black Wealth and Wealth Inequality does not take away from the wealth you and your family have built. Wealth is not a zero-sum game: others building wealth does not take away from your opportunities to build wealth. There is no need to burn it down or steal it from others.
Today is the first day of Pride Month. And yes, there’s an LGBTQ+ Wealth Gap as well. While there isn’t too much data about this wealth gap, LGBTQ-Economics.org put together an infographic last year about it.
Much like women and wealth, there are still policy gaps for LGBTQ+ people in terms of building wealth. As a history reminder, women could not get a credit card without a male co-signer until the Equal Credit Act of 1974.
The Government’s Role in Wealth Inequality
There is much the government can and should do for the income inequality in our country. I’m proud to live in Colorado which enacted the Equal Pay for Equal Rights Act at the beginning of this year. Requiring salary ranges in job postings and pay bands gets us closer to income equality. (Yes, I recognize there is still a long way to go here. We need to celebrate progress while we keep moving forward).
However, since we all leverage and utilizing our money differently to build wealth, it’s a less straightforward path to solve legislatively. They can (and are) looking at different ways people build (or lose) wealth and are working to take down barriers in business ownership, homeownership, student loans, and more.
Your Role in Wealth Inequality
The biggest driver of change in wealth inequality is you. Yes, you. You, and your money, are powerful. Consider your spending, banking, and investing. Are there changes and tweaks you can make to abolish the gender/racial/generational/identity wealth gaps? Here is an article I wrote about ways you can use your money to align with your values.
And, of course, talking about money is a powerful thing. Invite more people into your money conversations. You are invited to a Pledgettes event! (If you can’t afford a ticket or membership, reach out to me. I will help where I can). The more we talk, the more learn, the more we work together to build healthier and wealthier communities, the closer we are to achieving our personal financial goals and The Pledgettes mission.
I implore you to listen and learn AND to take action to build your wealth and others.