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Without a doubt, African Americans have made great strides in this country. Today, Blacks are leaders in the entertainment industry, hold seats in government, and sit in the corner offices at businesses large and small.

But do we focus so much on the strides that we’ve made that we forget about the overwhelming poverty that is a fixture in so many African-American lives and communities?

Antonio Moore, a Los Angeles attorney, calls this situation a “decadent veil” that hides the fact that, economically, many more Blacks in this country struggle than live even a comfortable middle class life.

“This veil is trimmed with million-dollar sports contracts, Roc Nation tour deals and designer labels made for heads of state. As black [celebrities] invited us into their homes through shows like MTV Cribs, we forgot the condition of overall African American financial affairs,” he writes. Citing numbers that have been published on The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, he says that 14 million Black households suffer in poverty. Median net worth of Black households is $6,000 while it’s $112,000 for White households. Of the $80 trillion total household net worth in this country, Blacks, who make up 13 percent of the population, only control 1.75 percent of it. In fact, more than a third (35 percent) of Black homes have zero or negative net worth, Moore writes, citing Pew Research numbers.

“Even though their numbers are infinitesimal in comparison to the whole of Black America the 21st century million dollar black celebrity’s image has grown to a point of normalcy in homes across the world,” Moore continues. “So much so that the lives of those in struggling financially in urban centers across America have become overcast by the projection of these larger than life individual brands.” We’ve become so used to seeing Black Americans with big-money contracts that we ignore the fact that so many more Blacks don’t live that life.

He makes an interesting point. Taking it a step further, there’s also the issue of how these wealthy entertainers have skewed the whole idea of financial security for Blacks and other groups as well. Moore points out that a lot of the wealth we see among Black celebrities is made in entertainment and sports who sign out-of-this-world contracts. But building a strong middle class is a way to lift up a greater majority of Blacks (and other Americans, for that matter).

Each month we write about the unemployment numbers. And each month we note that while the unemployment rate is largely dropping, it still hovers around 11 and 12 percent for Blacks. For the majority of people, an NBA contract isn’t going to be in the cards. Diddy isn’t going to knock down your door to sign a record contract. Building financial security through steady, decent-paying work, accessible educational opportunities, financial practices that don’t swindle people out of their homes and savings (read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ epic article “The Case For Reparations” if you haven’t already) and consistent healthcare that comes at a reasonable rate is the way to lift a greater proportion of the Black population out of dire financial straits.

Read all of Antonio Moore’s article here. And share your thoughts in the comments.

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