Annual Edition 'Buying Power of
Black America' report breaks down billions in expenditures Black
consumers are responding to tighter economic condition by focusing more of
their spending on items and services that improve their homes and
lifestyle. That's one of the trends revealed in the 15th annual report,
"The Buying Power of Black America," published by Target Market News. The
report analyzes spending for black households in 2008 and finds that
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Johnson urges national dialogue and reforms on growing black/white
25, 2010) In an address to Members of Congress and participants
attending a Congressional Black Caucus meeting, Robert L. Johnson,
founder and chairman of The RLJ Companies, called for a national
discussion about the growing wealth gap which he referred to as a
"wealth gap Tsunami threatening African American families."
Johnson cited the recent Institute on Assets and Social Policy at
Brandeis University study, among other studies, which conclude "the
wealth gap between white and African American families has more than
quadrupled over the course of a generation; the racial wealth gap
increased by $75,000, from $20,000 to $95,000; and, at least 25 percent
of African Americans have no assets." According to the U.S. Census data,
"white household median net worth is 10 times that of Black households.
The median net worth for African Americans was $11,800 compared to
$118,000 for whites."
In response to addressing this compelling national crisis, Johnson
stated that, "We must admit the harsh reality of a history of
institutionalized racism and economic discrimination against African
Americans is the primary cause of wealth disparity between Black and
white Americans" and "we must be willing to talk about race recognition
remedies at the highest levels of government as well as between Black
and white Americans."
Johnson suggests that the wealth disparity between African Americans and
whites compares to the "compelling national interest test" cited in the
Supreme Court's Adarand decision where the Court ruled 'a racial or
ethnic classification must serve a compelling interest and must be
narrowly tailored to serve that interest.' In his remarks to the Caucus,
Johnson listed several race recognition policy initiatives that could be
Johnson had the following suggestions to address this
compelling national problem and to get the conversation started.
The Federal Government should:
1. Allow black businesses to be eligible for government set aside
contracts if they own 10 percent of a business rather than the existing
51 percent due to the 10-to-1 wealth gap between Blacks and whites ---
the African American owner must retain control of the board of directors
and voting control. Significantly increase the dollar volume of set
aside contracts for Black businesses at all government agencies.
2. Encourage majority-owned businesses to invest in black-owned
companies by significantly reducing or deferring the taxes on the
economic gain from those investments similar to the FCC "tax certificate
policy" which motivated majority-owned media companies to sell
properties to minorities.
3. Allow African American families earning less than $250,000 annually
to defer federal income taxes, without interest, provided tax deferrals
are placed into a 401(k) type savings account which can only be drawn
out at retirement or upon death at which time the government would be
reimbursed for the deferred taxes. The gain on the 401(k) investment
would be available to the families at retirement or passed on to future
4. Create a Treasury-backed fund to securitize short-term borrowing or
emergency loans made by minority banks or other lending institutions to
African American families provided these loans are marketed and made in
a regulated and transparent manner. The securitized loans would
encourage banks and lenders to make short-term or emergency borrowing
available at reasonable rates and end payday lending as we know it
5. Require large banks under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to
fund a nationwide marketing campaign targeted to the African American
community, particularly young adults that will focus on financial
literacy and savings.
The RLJ Companies, founded by
Robert L. Johnson, is an innovative business network that provides
strategic investments in a diverse portfolio of companies. The RLJ
Companies seeks to target undiscovered or underserved markets then
exercise solid management to achieve results. Within The RLJ Companies
portfolio, Johnson owns or holds majority interests in businesses
operating in banking, private equity, hospitality, automobile
dealerships, entertainment, and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming.
The RLJ Companies is headquartered in Bethesda, MD, with affiliate
operations in Charlotte, NC; Orlando, FL; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles,
CA; San Juan, PR; and Monrovia, Liberia. Prior to founding The RLJ
Companies, Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment
Television (BET). For more information go to www.rljcompanies.com.