If Bill Gates were black, it would be less important that President Barack Obama is black. This is no slight to President Obama. It is an acknowledgment that while the route to success has changed, for too many in the black and minority community, their game plan has not.
For much of the past century, African Americans pursued social justice through government intervention, the ballot box, and ultimately elective office. While the number of black mayors and elected officials in this country is impressive, the number of black entrepreneurs is not. As a result, job creation in underserved communities, and among the black middle class, is stagnant.
The main driver of freedom in the world today is not the vote but self-determination and access to capital. When I speak of capital, I obviously mean financial capital, but I also mean the Latin root word capitas, or “knowledge in the head.” That means financial literacy education, financial capability, and financial and economic empowerment. But you cannot have freedom and self-determination, in the 21st century (an economic age), without an opportunity for and access to some measure of financial freedom.
This means that financial literacy is the new civil rights issue for this generation. Or, put another way: If you don’t understand the global language of money, and if you don’t have a bank or credit union account, you are simply an economic slave.
What Black America needs is a business image of itself that matches its political image.
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