The Break – The Black Vote Pt.2

In this episode KC, Chris, Malcolm, Tash, Leisha, Shelby, Steve & Julius finish up their discussion on the state of the black vote. They touch on the fear of black skin, changing minds, holding up standards for the black community, Trump dismantling the system and the mob mentality.

Music: deDunamis – Peaks

Please leave your comments and feedback below or you can contact us via Twitter: @BLACKISONLINE; Facebook: Black Is Magazine; Email:; Voicemail: (323) 455-4219.

The Break: 40 Acres and a Mule – THROWBACK!

*Listen in to a round table discussion as KC and the family discuss what the Black community would/should/could do if ever given reparations. Podcast guests include Chris Lehman, DJ A-ski, Toria Williams, Mike Eagle, Malcolm Darrell, Tash Moseley, Brother T, Jamila Farwell, and Darius Gray.

*Parental Discretion is advised with this podcast.

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.



Bringing Efficiency (and Sensibility) Back to Washington D.C.

Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair. – George Burns

It is October 2011. We are 13 months away from the next presidential campaign. However, President Obama officially kicked off his reelection bid last month. That’s right the president with 14 months before reelection has started pounding the pavement shortly after the summer from hell where the country almost defaulted on its debt obligations. The Republicans started trying to discredit the president’s ability to lead the nation on the other hand….the day after his inauguration. At some point I’m going to get to when these people actually do some governing or some dysfunctional form of it.

First lets get to my favorite thing – the money. The 2012 election price tag for all candidates is being estimated to cost $8 billion. Not really sure if that’s a lot? You remember the debt ceiling debacle I referred to earlier. Well the final deal which in the end agreed to reduce the federal deficit $200 billion a year, taking it from $1.2 trillion down to $1 trillion annually, the election will equal 4% of that reduction. $8 billion could give every man, woman, and child in the U.S. $27 per person. How many people in the U.S. are worth more than $8 billion? 35. American college & university endowments, providing scholarships to students and help pay faculty and staff, which have more than $8 billion? 6 (America has over 4,000 colleges and universities). The U.S. Department of Education has a budget of $70 billion. That’s right we’re going to spend the equivalent of 11% of that in the coming election.

Now let’s talk about who gets elected and connect it with what I just told you. President Obama alone is expected to raise over $1 billion for his 2012 campaign, not one African American college or university has a $1 billion endowment (Howard sits at $400 million), which means he’s going to need either donors with very deep pockets (who want deep influence) or a lot of donors will small donations. The latter being how he raised quite a bit of money in his last campaign. The difference between then and now is an economy in even worse shape and showing no signs of coming off life support. This would lead one to conclude that wealthy individuals and organizations will play an enormous role in this election on both sides of the aisle. According to Forbes Magazine, the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans conservative donors have out funded campaigns in 5 of the last 6 election cycles their liberal counterparts.

The point I’m driving home here is that political campaigns or offices are not accessible to the average Joe or Jane in America’s poor or middle class. They simply do not have the finances and access to resources typically to garner the amount of money needed to make a legitimate run at a congressional or senate seat let alone the presidency. This becomes apparently obvious when we look at the financial makeup of the congress and senate. In 2009, 44% of congress were millionaires. The median net worth of the house in 2008 was $622, 254 and for senators was $1.8 million – median net worth for African America $2,170. What is the number of African American senators? 0. To gain access to the town “where the streets are paved of gold” Washington D.C. as Eddie Murphy said in Distinguished Gentleman requires money and access to even more money. But what if it didn’t?

Key problems with the current process start with politicians being who they are governing to get reelected. As such they do what’s in the best interest of their reelection not necessarily the best interest of their constituency. They are careful not to make any major out of the box decision that could be long term beneficial because in the short term they need to get reelected. Time that could be spent governing is spent focusing on reelection. President Obama and his presidential predecessors before him typically spend 14 months of their 1st 48 month term or approximately 30% of their term seeking a 2nd 48 months. Assuming they get reelected they then basically have 24 months to get something done in case the opposing party gets control of the house in the midterm election at which time they become a lame duck president. This means potentially almost 40% of a president’s time in office is taken from governing because he’s either trying to get reelected or a lame duck that can’t get anything done. In the house it is even worse since they only have two year terms. So one could estimate that almost 60% of their time is spent seeking reelection. The senators who serve six year terms come in with the least wasted time at approximately 20% of their time spent seeking reelection. The need for large amounts of times donated to major donor usually at dinners where some pay over $25,000 for a meal just to eat and be near the candidate. But being near means you get to influence and be heard in a way very few ever will about the direction of the country and its policies. Extra cheese anyone?

If time is money we are wasting a lot of it as a country. Both on account of the amount of money we spend on elections and the amount of time we spend watching our elected officials in DC try to stay there. I’m a solutions oriented person so let me offer a few. The creation of local, state, and national campaign funds paid for by tax dollars that has a hard cap which removes the slush money for starters. It is amazing to me that the NFL and NHL (and soon the NBA) have figured out in order to keep expenses under control you need to set a limit on how much can be spent. On any level each race would have a pre-set amount that would be evenly divided among the qualified candidates to run their campaign. In my world the entire national election would not cost more than $1 billion. That’s local, state, and national combined. The major cost of any campaign quite frankly is TV time. Running ads on TV and getting the message out. Allow ads and debates to only be run on PBS for one to three months depending on if it’s a local, state, or national campaign. Remember 99% of Americans own a TV. Even if you don’t have cable you have access to PBS. Make the time allotted for campaigning to be reduced. Local races have to be completed in one month, state offices have two months, and national offices three months. Move voting from during the week to the weekend. We’re losing valuable work productivity by forcing people to vote during the week. Whoever thought that was a bright idea clearly did not want an involved population in the voting process or an efficient and productive economy. Make the congress, senators, and the president a 6 year one term office. They can run for office again but only after they sit out a cycle. You’ll actually have to govern for 6 years imagine that.

If both parties examine my proposal they’ll see both of their fundamentals values in place. An increased interaction with more of the population based on the PBS involvement and higher voter turnout on a weekend should please Democrats. Less money spent on elections is money that can be used for business creation, job creation, and voting on a weekend which will increase economic productivity should please Republicans. I make no bones about the fact I’m a fiscal conservative and social moderate. I want to see this country get its financial house in order from the White House to the everyday Joe and Jane’s house. To spend $8 billion on Democrats and Republicans who pride themselves on being efficiently inefficient does not bode well for my belief in this country’s financial future or its priorities. I also believe we need more social access to the voting process and political offices. Right now the latter appears virtually impossible for a citizen with a great idea and leadership but lack of wealth. Great ideas can come from all economic classes and we should promote the ability for all those groups to have access to the halls of policy. Thankfully we can do it in a more cost effective manner. These are just a few common sense suggestions of mine. Unfortunately, as I use to tell my students – common sense is not so common.

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, 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 as well as writing articles for other African American media outlets.

15 Minute Break: 40 Acres and a Mule Part II

*Listen in to a round table discussion as KC and the family discuss what the Black community would/should/could do if ever given reparations. Podcast guests include Chris Lehman, DJ A-ski, Toria Williams, Mike Eagle, Malcolm Darrell, Tash Moseley, Brother T, Jamila Farwell, and Darius Gray.

*Parental Discretion is advised with this podcast.


Diversify or Die

It’s always refreshing to discover successful black people in business, especially in areas other than sports and entertainment. We know we excel there – but what about other areas of business? I was grateful and inspired by this article that was shared with me about billionaire brothers, Michael and Steven Roberts, from St. Louis. I hope you are too.


Steven Roberts, left, and his brother, Michael, own a St. Louis theater that once segregated African-Americans.

Steven Roberts, left, and his brother, Michael, own a St. Louis theater that once segregated African-Americans.

Michael and Steven Roberts didn’t have two quarters to rub together a couple of decades ago. Now, the two African-American business leaders estimate their holdings — from hotels to TV stations — are worth $1 billion. One St. Louis hotel they own once barred black people.

“Black folks need legacy. We have to have examples of successes in order for us to be able to let the generations to come know that many of the successes that occurred by African-Americans in this country can be seen and pointed out and can be emulated,” says Michael Roberts, the chairman and CEO of The Roberts Companies.

Michael and his brother Steven, who is three years younger, stroll through their office, complete with wood-paneled doors, large leather chairs and a pool table fit for a king. Their office sits along a busy street in St. Louis called Kingshighway.

“They used to call us the Kings of Kingshighway, because we own so much on this street,” Michael Roberts says.

Their office is the culmination of hard work and a can-do American business attitude to strive for greatness. They launched their business from a historically black neighborhood in north St. Louis.

From a one-room office, they created an empire now made up of 76 companies and 1,100 employees, many of them minorities. They own commercial real estate, TV stations, hotels, telecommunication companies and more. The name Roberts adorns all their properties.

“We weren’t rich. We weren’t poor, but we just never had any money,” Michael says of their upbringing.

They like to tell their story, encouraging people with new ideas to chase their dreams. If you don’t have money, they say, don’t let that stop you.

“We tell folks, learn it, get your hands dirty — you know, a little sweat equity,” says Steven Roberts, the president of The Roberts Companies. “For that college student, for that future entrepreneur … we’re saying understand what your passion is, and understand what your product is, too.”

Michael Roberts chuckles. He notes that his younger brother has always been good at “putting the meat on the bone.” He says he likes to tell youths and college students: “What would your life be like if you could eliminate the fear of failure, and where would you be at this point in life?”

There will be times, he says, when you will stumble, but don’t let those hiccups get you down. “If you eliminate the fear of failure and if you use every moment to its fullest extent — a very existential concept — then you are able to take your ideas, your dreams, your aspirations, and you can pursue them with courage and confidence and bravado.” What are the challenges for black entrepreneurs, businesses?

The brothers operate on a simple business philosophy: You diversify or die. And they don’t believe in a full retirement. “What other animal retires?” Michael Roberts says. “If a lion retires today, tomorrow morning he becomes his brother’s breakfast.”

They point to their father as exhibit A. At 86, he still comes to the office that his sons named after him, the Victor Roberts Building, a large complex complete with restaurants and retail stores. He worked 39 years in the Postal Service before retiring in the 1980s. He now keeps a keen eye on his now grown boys. He refuses a paycheck.

“I suggest anyone who has a father,” Michael says with a laugh, “please hire them, because you can get them for free.”

The two brothers also have served in public office, elected to the St. Louis Board of Alderman in the late 1970s.

They recently walked through The Roberts Orpheum Theatre in downtown St. Louis. It symbolizes their quest for a legacy. Decades ago, their mother and other black people were only allowed to sit in the highest balcony. Now, the brothers own the theater.

They stood on the stage and scanned the empty seats. Again, they laughed. “Mom can sit wherever she likes,” Michael Roberts said.

Consumer Rap

I turned on Sirius XM Channel Shade 45 which is Eminem’s station today as I was riding about town and promptly heard this exchange between two DJs and the jest of the conversation went as followed “DJ1: Jay-Z made the Forbes 400 man. That’s big. DJ2: Oh word? DJ1: Yea oh with some guy named Warren BUFFET? DJ2: No Buffett I think. DJ1: Man I thought it was like something you eat.”

Sadly they never got Mr. Buffett’s name right. Nor did they ever correct themselves about Jay-Z. The correction is that Jay-Z is not anywhere near being on the Forbes 400 list of Wealthiest Americans. The price of admission to this list is a net worth of $1 Billion (of which only Oprah Winfrey is the only African-American present). Jay-Z’s net worth as reported by Forbes is somewhere between $150 Million as reported in ’09 and $450 Million as reported in ’10. This despite Forbes reported that Jay-Z only earning $63 Million over the past 12 Months. Forbes methodology for Hip-Hop Cash Kings, which Mr. Carter was ranked number one, includes their investments and such in their earnings and is pre-tax and management fees which usually amounts to 50% of an entertainer or athlete’s earnings. So I’ll let you ponder how or why Forbes turned $31.5 Million into a gain of $300 Million. I have my hunches but alas that’s not really what this article is about because the reality of it at the end of the day Jay-Z is one of the better businessmen that Hip-Hop has ever produced and very well might become a billionaire one day unlike many of his colleagues.

Coming back to the story at hand however. It is not surprising that many everyday people don’t know who Warren Buffett is despite his cult like following of fellow financiers and investors. Considered to be by many the greatest investor of all-time if you’re not in the finance world his name means about as much to most African-Americans as Soul-Glo would mean to a bald person. The coupling of Mr. Buffett and Jay-Z (arguably the greatest rapper of all-time) and what they promote into culture of their communities could not be more polar opposite despite both being very poignant businessmen in their own realm.

Mr. Buffett has made his wealth off frugality and investment. He has also recently (to my dismay) decided to leave the bulk of his fortune upon his demise to the Gates Foundation as part of a promotion for the wealthy to give more of their fortunes to philanthropic causes for humanity. On the very opposite spectrum Mr. Carter who came of age in the bling era has been a part of new rappers that has prided itself on the ability to promote consumerism with songs like “Ballin Remix” by Jim Jones or “Make It Rain” by Fat Joe or as Rick Ross infamously points out on “Speedin” – “I’m worth $15 Million and I’m trying to SPEND it all in one week.” The ability to consume above all and frequently with no wealth is the mantra that Hip-Hop today exudes. This is not to say that rappers don’t have a philanthropic bone in their body. Mr. Carter and others were at the forefront in giving to FEMA (for better or worse) after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. However, unless you dug deep in the annals of Google would be something one would never know and these moments are few and far between.

I tweeted the other day that rappers love to tell us how to spend our very small pennies as African-Americans (we have $0.07 for every $1.00 European Americans have) but they rarely tell us how to make any. They aren’t rapping about investing in stocks, bonds, rental properties, or philanthropy. In fact the only hip-hop artist I’ve ever heard go straight to the point was an artist named NYOIL with a song called “The Investor”. Needless to say this didn’t get the airplay it deserved. Consumer rap prides itself on artist making plugs for clothing, alcohol, basically anything WE don’t own and other anti-wealth behavior for a community that is at the bottom of the wealth totem pole in this country. Given that Latinos are fairly new on the scene and have already surpassed us in wealth has me begging, crying, and screaming for us to change our behavior pattern in terms of wealth. Given that hip-hop is a way of life that way of life clearly needs a makeover and the leadership in hip-hop needs to promote that change. Unfortunately I will not hold my breathe as most artist are simply labor to a company which is predominately owned by men like Mr. Buffett. Just remember that Mr. Carter’s Net Worth is a mere 10% of Mr. Buffett at best depending on which net worth of Forbes’ you choose to use. People may say we expect too much of our athletes & entertainers to be socially conscious. The ghost of Paul Robeson just rolled over in his grave.

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.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Social Security

The Social Security program turns 75 this week. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, few workers have not been impacted by the social program. Almost all Americans pay into the system, and Social Security is the largest source of income for citizens age 65 and older. Yet this huge entitlement has many facets, some of which are not widely known. Here are 10 things you may not know about Social Security:

The system is bigger than the economy of most countries. For the past 20 years, the Social Security program has been the largest single item in the federal government’s budget. “The amount of money flowing through the Social Security system each year is larger than the total economies of all but the 16 richest nations in the world,” says Larry DeWitt, the U.S. Social Security Administration historian. The Social Security program has collected $13 trillion in income and expended $10.6 trillion in payments since the first tax collections began in 1937 through 2007. That’s an amount of money that Social Security’s first beneficiary, Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vt.–who collected initial payments of $22.54 a month for 35 years–probably never dreamed of.

[See 10 Places to Reinvent Your Life in Retirement.]

It’s not just a retirement program. The original Social Security program paid benefits only to retired workers. Later, disability benefits and payments for a beneficiary’s spouse and children and were added to the program. “If you graduated from college four years ago, you are already protected against disability,” says Edward Berkowitz, professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. “If you are married and have children, your dependents are protected.” Annual Social Security Administration mailings to all workers age 25 and older include an estimated amount that you would be paid if you become disabled and how much your spouse and children would receive if you should pass away.

You pay 6.2 percent of your income into the system. Almost all American workers (94 percent) pay 6.2 percent of their taxable income, up to $106,800 annually, into the Social Security trust fund. Employers pay a matching 6.2 percent for each worker. Self-employed workers must contribute 12.4 percent of their income annually.

There haven’t always been cost-of-living increases. Annual cost-of-living adjustments didn’t become a part of Social Security until 1975 (as a result of a 1972 law). Prior to 1975, an act of Congress was required to increase benefits to keep up with consumer prices. “Before then, benefits were protected from inflation only when Congress chose to notice it,” says Berkowitz. Now increases in payments are tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Annual increases have ranged from 1.3 percent in 1996 and 1998 to 14.3 percent in 1980. For the first time in 2010, there was no cost of living boost because the index did not increase between the third quarter of 2008 and 2009.

Retirees can increase annual payments by waiting to claim. Workers can begin receiving Social Security benefits at age 62. But payouts increase by 7 to 8 percent for each year you delay your start date, up until age 70. Workers who sign up early receive smaller monthly checks over a great number of years, while those who delay claiming receive bigger payouts for the rest of their life. “If you know you are going to live past the age of 80, you are better off delaying Social Security,” says Lita Epstein, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Security and Medicare. “Baby boomers who know they are going to have a long life are much better off waiting.” Epstein, who is spending down her Roth IRA assets in order to delay claiming Social Security, says her benefits will increase by about $500 each month by waiting until age 70 to sign up.

Couples have extra options. Spouses are entitled to Social Security benefits of up to 50 percent of the higher earner’s check if that amount is higher than the payments based on his or her own working record. Widows and widowers are entitled to the higher earner’s full retirement payout. Duel-earner couples who have reached their full retirement age can even claim twice by first signing up for a spousal payment, then claiming again later based on their own work record (which will then be higher due to delayed claiming). Ex-spouses are also eligible for benefits if the marriage lasted at least 10 years.

[See 6 Ways Couples Can Maximize Social Security Payouts.]

Existing beneficiaries can get a do-over. If you’ve already signed up for Social Security and received a reduced payout, it’s not too late to boost your check. If you pay back the entire amount you have already received from Social Security without interest, you can then qualify for higher payments for the rest of your life.

Social Security numbers have significance. The first three digits of your Social Security number are assigned based on geographical region, with the lowest numbers being assigned in the Northeast and increasingly higher numbers assigned to residents in the West. The middle two digits, called the group number, are allocated in a precise but nonconsecutive order between 01 and 99. The last four digits are issued in a sequential order. Over 420 million unique numbers have been issued and they are not reused after a person’s death. Social Security numbers have been assigned shortly after birth since 1989, which makes younger American’s Social Security numbers somewhat predictable if you know a person’s date of birth and home town, which is common information that young people list on social networking websites, according to research by Alessandro Acquisti, an associate professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. “Do not offer personal information such as date of birth and hometown publicly,” he advises.

Paper Social Security checks will soon be retired. Social Security recipients will be required to collect payments by direct deposit into a bank account or a government Direct Express Debit MasterCard beginning on March 1, 2011. Existing beneficiaries must switch to electronic payments by March 1, 2013. Paperless payments are expected to save $300 million over five years, according to Treasury Department estimates.

[See 12 Ways to Fix Social Security.]

The trust fund has a projected deficit. The Social Security trust fund is currently projected to be sufficient to provide payments until the end of 2037. Then, unless changes are made to the program, there will only be sufficient resources to pay about 78 percent of scheduled benefits. Congress is currently considering a variety of potential fixes, including tax increases, benefit cuts, and pushing back the retirement age. A U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging report released in May found that relatively minor tweaks could put the trust fund back on sound financial ground for at least 75 more years. “It’s a shame that the tone of the 75th celebration is sort of nostalgic,” says Berkowitz. “I would hope that the 75th anniversary is not only about how good things used to be, but also about how good things could still be in the future.”

The Dating Game Pt. II

Far too often in my conversations with single Black men, the term “gold digger” comes up. It bugs me, because not many of the sistas I know would fall under that category. I asked my single  men friends where they are meeting these women with this attitude, and the answer is always the same: these aren’t chicks from the club, but professional, educated women. Nonetheless, the idea that they are trying to stick men for their paper is a real fear.

Of course, Kanye’s lyrics come to mind.  I’m not saying she’s a gold digger/ but she ain’t messing with no broke n*gga. True enough, none of my single sister friends are in the market for a man with no money, no job, no ambition and heavy debt. But neither are my male friends. All of them express wanting a women who is independent and financially sound so that she doesn’t depend on them to pay for everything.

I can’t help but single out what I call the Hype Williams Video Movement of the late 90’s and early new millennium as shouldering some of the responsibility for this characterization of Black women. Those videos (i.e. Jigga’s Big Pimpin, Q-Tip’s Breathe & Stop, Ja Rule’s Holla Holla and this list goes on) showcase women of color in droves, half-naked, greased up, popping champagne bottles around men flashing money, cars and jewelry. Now, we are way past truly blaming music videos for all of our drama – after all, Hype’s videography contains much more than these types of videos AND the sistas who participated are definitely responsible for the overall outcome. But I can’t help but wonder if these images are having a residual effect on how Black men and women are relating to each other today.

I have to depend on the experiences of my single loved ones to inform me, as I’ve been in the same relationship for the last ten years. When my hubby and I decided to commit to one another, neither of us came into it with much, but decided to build up our wealth together. Do folks do this anymore?

When I think back on our courtship and how finances came into play, I know what we both focused on was what we had in common in regards to financial goals and how we would go about reaching them. We often spent time doing things that didn’t cost money, and it wasn’t an issue taking turns to pay for things if one of us had low funds.

People, talk to me: Women, are you only checking for suitors with large bank accounts? Men, are women asking for your bank statements on the first date? Sistas, are you down to work with a man who has a plan, but needs time to get it together? And how much time are you willing to put in? Brothas, is it old-fashioned to expect you to be the breadwinner in the relationship? Or are you expecting the woman to pay for some of these dates?

What is a strong relationship based on these days, in any race/culture? Talk to me!