On Feb. 6, my family celebrated my beautiful granddaughter by hosting a birthday party. She was born in the month of February, which also is Black History Month. Please stay with me as I attempt to create a powerful teachable moment regarding a way forward by reflecting upon a 1-year-old’s birthday party and the Waterloo African-American community regarding our local banking sector.
What was special about this 1-year-old African-American’s birthday celebration was a deliberate focus on her future; family and friends were given her youth savings membership account number as a way to gift/invest, an account that had been started at birth. Note there was no designer sneakers for this 1-year-old nor were there fancy outfits she will outgrow the next day.
One has only to Google the topic on blacks and their relationship with the banking sector in this country and the disturbing reports that reflect a lack of substantive engagement with the African-American community nationally. The two terms used to describe the African-American community are under- banking and lack of banking engagement, which is troubling.
There is a realization here in Waterloo we are moving into a digital society as members of the global village, where hard money is morphing into cyber cash transactions. I believe it is safe to say a person will find a growing inability to manage their personal business without a designated banking platform. What does this lack of banking engagement longitudinally mean for the Waterloo black community’s future generations? That is, the lack of having bank accounts, checking and saving; there is a direct negative impact on two primary long-term mechanisms — the lack of wealth creation and inter-generational wealth transfer — which are vertically integrated in the lack of engaging a local banking sector, as a first step.
I have too often seen young African-American Waterloo parents purchasing the latest footwear endorsed/marketed by an African-American millionaire athlete. Chances are these parents do not have one penny in a bank repository for their future.
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SOURCE: Waterloo Courier – John M. Berry is an adjunct faculty member at University of Northern Iowa department of social work.