Law in Contemporary Society

Secure The Bag – The Importance of Wealth Generation in the Black Community

Money Talks

Wealth and access to graduate education provide families with resources and privilege that compound over time and equips families with the freedom of choice. Black families in America have consistently faced roadblocks preventing the establishment of generational wealth and stifling their ability to secure high-wage employment. Systemic racism has held Black families in a state of economic stagnation, while white families have been afforded the opportunity to achieve economic prosperity with ease. While policymakers and talking heads debate over the best solutions for combating the racial wealth gap, Black students perusing their J.D. should prioritize capitalizing on the economic opportunities that a law license provides. Focusing on wealth generation will allow Black professionals to protect themselves and their descendants by ensuring that they are amassing generational wealth – Securing The Bag.

A Legacy of Disenfranchisement

Since America’s founding, there has been an exploitative culture of white wealth generation and Black wealth stagnation. For hundreds of years, Black people were forced into slave labor that built America into a global powerhouse without compensation. The impacts of slavery persist today and contribute to the enormous disparity between the median wealth of Black and white families. The intentional sabotage of Black generational wealth is exemplified by atrocities like the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. According to the New York Times, the Tulsa Oklahoma neighborhood of Greenwood was so promising and vibrant that it became home to what was known as America’s Black Wall Street. What took years for the Black community to build was erased in less than 24 hours by a white mob of looters and arsonists driven by their resentment toward the Black prosperity found in the community. Today, resentment towards black wealth creation is more insidious and is expressed through residential segregation, housing discrimination, and discrimination within the labor market.

One Step forward, Two Steps Back

One might ask if any real progress has occurred regarding the economic subordination of Black people over the last century. According to the Federal Reserve, growth rates for the median wealth of Black families rose 33 percent during the three-year period from 2016 – 2019, whereas for white families over the same period of time the growth rate was only 3 percent. Despite the substantial growth in median wealth for black families, there has only been a modest change in the gaps between wealth in black and white families. A recent article published by the Harvard Gazette cited a 2018 study which noted that historical data reveals that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years. While we’ve been able to observe some substantial gains regarding the growth of the median Black household wealth, there has been a skyrocketing increase in the median wealth of white families over a longer period of time.

Ensuring a Prosperous Future

Young Black legal professionals should be mindful of the daunting racial wealth gap when planning their practice. It is important to enter into high-income positions early in one's career because investing and earning compound interest is the easiest way to ensure the creation of generational wealth. Wealth is often passed down through generations of a family, providing future generations with more choices and greater opportunities. Income is more short-term and solely dependent on the capital that is brought in through a direct exchange for labor. In a paper published by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, “The Fading American Dream” it was noted that the number of children who are higher earners than their parents has sharply declined over the past 50 years due to the growth in inequality regarding familial wealth and resources. Black lawyers provided with the opportunity to access high-paying jobs should take advantage of those opportunities with future generations in mind. Professor Jack, Assistant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education opined that his research shows that access to elite institutions increases the chances of historically marginalized communities’ odds of establishing generational wealth so long as those students, “use their education as a springboard to a better future the same way their richer counterparts do.”

The Target Remains

While a legal degree can enable Black professionals with the ability to ascend into the upper-middle class, it is important to note that Black lawyers face unique challenges in the workforce. The J.D. is viewed as one of the most valuable advanced degrees in American society because of the power and access it provides. The esteem that accompanies a wealthy lawyer can be understood as both a blessing and a curse. While a legal degree can provide opportunities for the establishment of generational wealth, the power that is associated with it can be threatening. Similarly, to the resentment that led to the destruction of Black Wall Street, wealthy Black lawyers must be hyperaware of the increased threats that they face. Although awareness of the heightened adversity Black lawyers are likely to face is important, it should not act as a deterrent to the establishment of generational wealth. Regardless of class or social status, Black people will consistently be targeted by various modes of oppression. The establishment of generational wealth provides Black families with the resources needed to combat systemic oppression effectively.

Secure The Bag

Money Talks, and if Black legal professionals are interested in ensuring a brighter future for their children and future generations, they should choose a practice that will enable them to earn enough to do so. The establishment of generational wealth is a crucial component of the success and longevity of the Black community. – Secure The Bag.

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r3 - 04 May 2022 - 17:40:29 - JermelMcClure
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