There is a big lie going on. A lie perpetuating that we the people are onto some bit of economic greatness. A new emergence of leverage able wealth. That we are this power base of buying power worth $1.3 trillion dollars and growing. That we are about to be a force to be dealt with. That we have arrived. This number and its singers are using either fool-hearted trickery or pure ignorance in the choir, but either way, we the people, need to know the story behind the numbers. The real power is in the information. How you use that information is the leverage.
Let's start simply. African Americans are the poorest minority. We are the least likely minority to be employed, least likely to be part of the labor force. We have the highest unemployment rate in the country hovering around 7%. While we are growing in influence, this is mostly happening in households earning above $75,000. Our "power" is highly concentrated. Would it surprise you to know that 90% of our cultural wealth and earnings comes from just 20% of our households? There are a lot of our group being left out of any semblance of a new emergence. I could go on to talk about the gap in wage earnings and white-collar penetration but that would take me too far away from the target subject at hand. Let's save that discussion for another time shall we?
At this point I need to define "buying power" or you might know it as "purchasing power" Here is where you might want to grab your calculator and your spectacles.
Buying power first of all is not a economic term or a metric used by the census. It is a marketing term. A term used to lure unsuspecting demographics to consumption. (I almost want to type this twice.) Buying power is consumer trickery. Oh, and that supposed $1.3 trillion in "buying power" includes borrowed debt. And we black people love to use credit. We owe a lot of people. We have the lowest net worth versus any other group by a measurable mile.
Some great many people believe $1.3 trillion in buying power suggests the money we spend every year. Far far far from the truth of it. It actually has little to do with spending or at least agree that it is a hell of a bit more complicated than that. Do me a favor. Take just these numbers.
Take $1.2 trillion to be conservative (that is 12 zeros) and divide that number by the May 2017 estimated employed / non-institutionalized working African American adults of 32 million. Now when your eyes pop out of your head, you will quickly realize that not everyone you know is spending $37,500 a year on anything. And know for this number to hold up and add back up to $1.2 trillion, we would all have to be spending that!
So before we all run out to Macey's on a shopping spree, let's come back to reality and see this for what it really is. Yes, our economic power base is growing. Yes, mass media and mass America is taking notice. Yes, they want our disposable income. But don't get tricked into believing they are helping us get rich.
Consumption is designed to take what you have not restore you, not grow you and sure as hell not check back on you with you are flat broke.
We will learn but we must come together and share what we already know. While consumption may be a level playing field the hard-earned opportunity to earn it is not. We are stronger together. Make up your mind.
See you at work.