There are a plethora of issues plaguing minorities and communities of color across America. One issue in particular that has far-reaching, generational effects is that of wealth inequality. Based on a number of research studies, minorities, namely Blacks and Latinos, lag far behind Whites in regard to wealth accumulation. In the June issue of Stay On The Go Magazine, Jarrett Strickland and Courtney Hale contributed articles that addressed various aspects of this issue. Building on the momentum generated from previous events, we decided that the next community discussion should address wealth inequality
On Wednesday, June 29, we hosted Conscious Conversation: Evaluating the Racial Wealth Gap at the historic Morgan Park Community Center. This venue, nestled in Nashville's Germantown neighborhood, played a critical role in the discussion. At one point in time, Germantown was primarily comprised of industrial facilities and was populated by residents in lower income brackets. Today, Germantown represents the transitional force of gentrification and is now populated by high income earners occupying residences price north of $500,000. Essentially this community represents the evaporation of wealth, lost by minorities and gained by the majority. Despite the neighborhood’s changing economic landscape, the Morgan Park Community Center still provides services for minority residents of Nashville.
The overarching goal of the discussion on wealth inequality was to identify strategies to eliminate the wealth gap. A complementary group of panelists was assembled for this event, with each person providing key insights on the topic at hand. Tifinie Capehart, a realtor at Silverpointe Properties and former urban planner, contributed perspectives on wealth creation though real estate acquisition. The importance of financial literacy was addressed by Courtney Hale, founder and executive director of Knowledge Bank Nashville. Travis Smith, senior mortgage banker at Synovus Financial Corp., discussed the importance of banking relationships in tackling wealth inequality and highlighted his institution's role in effecting change on the issue. Wealth management was the focus of Jarrett Strickland’s contribution to the panel, given his role as investment advisor at Molette Investment Services.
More that 50 attendees engaged in productive dialogue across three main areas: 1) college education, 2) homeownership, and 3) unemployment. The collective thought in research on the issue suggests that these three areas are the primary drivers of the racial wealth gap. Minorities are found to accumulate massive debts by financing college education through students loans, and fail to secure lucrative employment opportunities upon graduation, which further compounds the debt issue. In addition, lower rates of homeownership and higher rates of unemployment place minorities in a position where they are unable to generate wealth, further accelerating wealth inequality.
I’m very proud of how far the Conscious Conversation movement has come in less than six months. The community continues to demonstrate how important these discussions are through their involvement. We have more great topics planned for future Conscious Conversations and are excited to identify ways to Connect, Converse, and Create as it relates to strengthening our community. Events for July, August and September are currently in the works. Keep up with the movement online (www.consciousconversation.co), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/groups/consciousconvo), or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We want you to be apart of the Conscious Conversation movement! #consciousconvo