The Break – Dear White People Pt.2

In Part 2 of our conversation about the film Dear White People KC, Chris, Leisha, Toria and The Other Chris are joined by actor Brandon P. Bell, who plays Troy Fairbanks in the film. We discuss attending predominately white institutons (PWIs), white privilege (surrounding the character Curt), economics, quintessential blackness, and “ethinc themed parties”. Brandon shares his experience with the film, including how he landed the role of Troy and what is was like playing this character.

For more information about the film Dear White People click here. You can find Brandon P. Bell on Twitter at @_Brandon_Bell.

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Recommended Reading For African American Financial Starters

The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do; with them, everything. – Benjamin Franklin


Capitalism & Slavery by Eric Williams

Comments – This book is tied for one of the most important books I have ever read period with Miseducation of the Negro. It is by far the most important financial book I have ever read. To understand the history of system you are engaging is vital. One of the most important lessons I came away with in this book is that capital within the capitalist system will always seek to find the cheapest labor.

Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the making of a Black American millionaire by Carol Jenkins & Elizabeth Hines


Comments – The biography of arguably one of the greatest business men to ever grace America’s soil. His story of entrepreneurship and building of an empire is worth the read. He owned a bank, insurance company, along with  many other businesses, and before his death was proposing an African American owned stock exchange. His rise from humble beginnings that would make many of us blush today gives one a role model of perseverance.



Comments – Robert Kiyosaki explains the three types of income. He is also the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. A book that is worth reading but there is much of it that must be taken with a grain of salt.

Robert Kiyosaki: Three Types of Income

Mr. Kiyosaki, while I respect his opinion in a lot of areas of his book, primarily that your house is not an investment, some of his book is a sales job to get you to buy more of his products so reader beware.







The median net worth for African Americans is $2,170.

The median net worth for European Americans is $97,860

And more can be found here:

Men Lie, Women Lie – Numbers Don’t: The Financial State of African America

STOP: African Americans should NOT be maxing out their 401(k)



Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham & David Dodd

Comments – This one will put your mettle to the test. Its long. Its boring. Its fundamental. Its imperative. Benjamin Graham was Warren Buffett’s teacher and that alone makes it a must read. Beyond that this book will provide the discipline needed to make you understand the need for long-term value investing and not subject to the whims of the ups and downs of the daily market.



Common Stocks & Uncommon Profits by Philip A. Fisher

Comments – If Warren Buffett is known as the greatest value investor of all-time then Philip Fisher is arguably the greatest growth investor of all-time. Again, focused on long-term investing but this time in growth companies. Mr. Fisher did not believe in diversification investing but finding a few (7 to 10) really good stocks and being dedicated to them over the long-term.


These are websites that I check with some frequency on a weekly if not daily basis. Now while I wouldn’t expect anyone to check them at the rate I do these are websites that should at least find your eyeballs at least once a month. Also check newspapers from around the world. This is important because you want to start to see trends. The reality is that geopolitical and geoeconomical events can echo strongly into financial markets at times. No, reading CNN is not enough. You want to read events from others point of view about the world. CNN gives you the world view from European America’s perch. Understanding the difference can and will give you an edge when examining your company if it has a multinational operation.

This is just the start of a long road of wealth building but a foundation to begin you on your way. All of these avenues will potentially lead you to other avenues of information. Don’t invest in isolation either. Conversations about companies and their long-term potential with other investors can help you see things you might miss.

MOST importantly – SHARE this information with your family, friends, and community.

Make more money than you spend and don’t spend that much.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste, full-time contributor at HBCU Money, and guest contributor for a number of African American media outlets.



PODCAST: Mics Off!

Most often our round table conversations during the podcast sessions are so juicy that once the mics are off the conversation continues. To whet your appetites for this 2012 season (that is currently delayed due to technical difficulties) listen in to one of our  “Mics Off” podcast sessions. The topics range and change – enjoy!


The Pending Death of the Black Middle Class

For a majority of middle class Blacks, it may not matter if President Obama and the politicians on Capitol Hill agree to extend the middle tax cuts. This is because based on the current collapse of the black middle class and the disheartening failure of black children in the classrooms, there may not even be much of a black middle class in America ten years from now.

In America, the middle class typically refers to those who earn an annual income of between $35,000 and $100,000 per year. This segment is then further divided in three smaller subdivisions of upper, middle and lower middle class. Those in the lower middle class segment typically have annual incomes between $35,000 and $50,000. This is the segment of American workers who are “barely making the ends meet.”

According to recently released data by the U.S. Census Bureau the median income for Black families is around $32,000 per year. This means that the median Black family is lower middle class, barely making ends meet. Being lower middle class should be the basic minimum standard for which majority of blacks should be able to attain and maintain. By setting a solid foundation from which their children and future generations can ascend the socioeconomic ladder, a lower middle class family has an opportunity for prosperity in the next generation.

Below is a chart showing the size and the income distribution of the Black middle class relative to other races, based on recently released data from the US Census bureau.

The Black middle class is roughly 38.4 percent of the African American population. Though this just slightly smaller than the middle classes of the other major races, the black middle class is the smallest and earns the least income. Blacks have the lowest percentage of middle class members who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year.

Apparently, the collapse of the American economy and particularly, the collapse of the real estate, manufacturing, auto and banking industries have wreaked the most havoc on the Black middle class. The percentage of blacks who earn less than $35,000 per year is growing as the percent of blacks who fit the definition of middle class is on the decline.

Maybe unemployment is to blame. The unemployment rate for blacks is 17.3 percent, which is almost twice the national average.
Among college-educated blacks, the unemployment rate averages close to 7.3 percent as opposed to 5.7 percent, which is the unemployment rate for college-educated adults from other races.

Being unemployed means not being able afford one’s lifestyle or being able to pay all of one’s bills, and thus creates debt. Real estate debt is killing the black middle class. Over the last three years, Blacks have lost more real estate due to foreclosure than any other period in history. The loss of real estate is also a loss of a key foundation for amassing wealth.

Because of the burden of debt and unemployment, many working class blacks have joined the ranks of the working poor, those who live in poverty and/or are homeless.

If this continues, the black middle class will continue to shrink and lose wealth and income. In order to counter these trends two things must be done immediately. First, we must have to look deeper into wage and employment discrimination. Because one has to have been working at one point to even qualify for unemployment benefits, a skyrocketing unemployment rate means that once working class blacks are simply not being rehired. This is simply unacceptable. Equal work for equal pay should not just be a rallying for women it should be a rallying cry for blacks also.

The second thing that must be done is to improve the public educational system so that greater majorities of black children have an equal chance of joining the ranks of the middle class and becoming self-sufficient. However, as you will see in part two (check back tomorrow) in this series on middle class black America. The chance of black children joining the ranks of the middle class over the next 5 to ten years is getting bleaker.

Source: Sickly Cat

The Unholy Alliance: The Rise of an Internet Cartel

The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future.” – Eric Hoffer

There was an announcement that seemed to have gone largely unnoticed in the financial and technology world today. Mainly because today Mubarak was reportedly stepping down as Egypt’s president – he did not. It went across the screen like any other typical headline reported on Bloomberg. Google and Facebook looking to acquire Twitter for a valued $8-10 billion. I recently closed my own Facebook over continued privacy concerns. Let’s see how long I can stay away given Facebook has become almost as necessary today as a cell phone it seems. That being said I took to my real addiction Twitter and said, Facebook posts today are going to be for this generation the tramp stamp and tribal tattoo of my generation. There will be things a lot of us did, thinking they were cool at the time, but will ultimately regret later in life. Ironically comments made on the internet are becoming as permanent as tattoos. Everything we say becoming a fixture that can be recalled later to our dismay and held against us.

Twitter and Facebook are places where people have become accustomed to expressing themselves to no end. Every random thought and feeling finds its way to Twitter or Facebook statuses. The problem is we’ve forgot that essential tool that we were raised with: the ability to filter. In the age of reality television it certainly could be argued that Facebook has become that for the everyday person. We see meltdowns, breakups, bullying, and every other imaginable thing happen via Facebook. Life imitating the art. So then why should the purchase of this pesky little Twitter company bother me? One word: POWER.

Over the past year we’ve seen Facebook, Inc. become a company valued (at press time) at $60 billion in its most recent valuation. This places the company’s value roughly equal to Ford Motor Company, U.S. Steel, and Monsanto (world’s largest agriculture seed company) – COMBINED. Three companies, who transport us, help us build, and feed us. A social media company is worth the equivalent. Wrap your mind around that for a moment and ask yourself why? And the answer is in one word: INFORMATION. Facebook and all social media are and will be the most valued companies for years to come because they do one thing better than any company previously who were paid to do it, and that’s get our personal information, thoughts, desires, hopes, fears, dreams and we give it willingly for FREE. As deputy editor at Forbes Nicole Perloth stated today in her article as it related to the almost 3 to 1 bid to value Facebook and Google offered to Twitter “The real value is going to be in the data Twitter already has and continues to amass about topics, people and their connections.” And information is power. The ultimate power for companies and organizations who want to control trends, purchasing, and attitudes of the consumer or voter.

So let’s get back to this alliance and why it alarms me. These companies are arguably the most powerful companies in their field. Let’s connect the dots and start at the beginning with America’s wealthiest and largest philanthropist – Bill Gates. The Microsoft corporation which at one point tried to buy Google but missed the window owns a small but influential portion of Facebook. Google now owns YouTube, the largest broadcaster of uploaded user videos and growing corporate and organizational videos. Al-Jazeera actually reported live from YouTube on Mubarak’s speech if you could not get to a television. Signaling computers and smartphones will be even more so the medium from which we get our news via the web. Google as well tried to purchase Facebook. Now there is Facebook and its 500 million users (minus one); a founder who has consistently run into abuse of power issues since the company’s very founding; a company that continues to become wealthier by the day; and that has reached a value of $50 billion just weeks ago with the announcement of an investment by none other than Goldman Sachs. The Goldman Sachs whose reach into Washington politics is so deep that if it played with Washington’s proverbial ass it could make the mouth talk. It also manages close to $1 trillion in assets, an economic weapon not to be take lightly, and who many say was one of if not the most influential player in our subprime crisis. Now there is Twitter. The company who has 200 million users itself and by some estimates are a make-up of the who’s who and everyday man. Politicians like mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey who is so popular being a follower of his is almost cult-like. His public schools just also happen to receive $100 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Who else is on twitter? The better question is who is not? Every major company worth its salt is on twitter, non-profit organizations, politicians, celebrities, bloggers, and everyday joes and janes.

There is a massive amount of information being consolidated in the hands of a few and it is has the potential to be extremely dangerous. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – all intertwined. Apple aside can you name companies more powerful roaming the internet and collecting your information? Now back to that conglomerate who has the financial and political backing of Goldman Sachs, who all but bullied the U.S. Government to use AIG as a backdoor bailout so it could avoid receiving pennies on the dollar for its bad debt and instead received dollar for dollar. Every search we search on Google, every video posted on YouTube, every bit of personal information from location to workplace to school we post on Facebook, and every thought we post to Twitter is all in the hands of a small group. Lest us not forget that Microsoft’s founder is head of the world’s largest non-profit organization. If you think non-profits can do no harm, ask Africa about the missionaries who came to “help”.  Or ask New Orleans about about non-profits that came to “help”. The proverb by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux says L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs” better known as – The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The very thing the internet was suppose to do is give everyone free uncensored access to information. The ultimate ability to level the playing field. That was because everyone was powerful on the internet. Nobody controlled the internet. Now we see that we might have hoped too  soon for this to be true. The way we have the diamond and oil cartels there is clearly a forming internet cartel and its commodity is information. Maybe the most valuable commodity on this Earth. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz famously said “Power never takes a step back – only in the face of more power.” The U.S. can vie to this truth with the rise of China. A superpower needs another superpower to keep it in check. And we are witnessing the rise of a superpower in a place that knows no borders. After all it is the World Wide Web. Did I forget to mention that Google was collecting your health data? This information cartel very well could know you better than you know yourself.

It may be 2011 but its feeling more and more like 1984.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & CEO of Sechen Imara Solutions, LLC. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.