African Americans have struggled for decades to build wealth in America. Historical injustices — including slavery, systematic inequality, employment discrimination, racist housing policies and other barriers — have stymied economic well-being and harmed retirement confidence for the community.
Today, the average white family has eight times the wealth of the average Black family, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.
Closing the racial wealth gap in the United States is a complex issue with no one-size-fits- solution. But expanding financial literacy, education and job training efforts can help, experts say.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2019, white Americans had a median family wealth of $188,200, while Black Americans had a median family wealth of just $24,100. Source: U.S. Federal Reserve
Lawrence Gonzalez is an auditor for the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Inspector General in Washington D.C. who says healthy conversations about personal finance often don’t exist in Black culture.
“People never wanted to discuss money, understand it, or grow it,” Gonzalez told Annuity.org.
“There’s almost a mysticism around it because not enough people understand the concepts.” Raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with Brazilian roots, Gonzalez excelled at math at an early age. He came to the United States when he was 11 years old and graduated with a degree in accounting from the Florida State University.
After starting his career, Gonzalez wanted to give back to the Black community. In 2018, he started a financial literacy platform called the Neighborhood Finance Guy to share practical knowledge about eliminating debt and building personal wealth. Gonzalez says leveraging experiences common to Black culture can help break down barriers to financial literacy.