Out & About: Black women talk finances

Audrey Perrott attended the Currency Conversations campaign with our network of community-based organizations.

Published: Wednesday, June 05, 2019

JPMorgan Chase and Essence magazine have teamed up to expand economic inclusion for black women with their Currency Conversations campaign. The campaign includes listening tours, educational content, a savings pledge and a safe space for black women to have an open dialogue about their financial goals. Consumer Action’s Audrey Perrott attended the Oakland, CA, listening tour event on April 27.

It is indisputable that a racial wealth gap exists in America, which can be attributed in part to both the institutional and individual racism plaguing all sectors of our society, including education, banking, employment and housing. According to a 2017 Federal Reserve report, Recent Trends in Wealth-Holding by Race and Ethnicity: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances, black families in 2016 possessed a median net worth of $17,600, compared to $171,000 for white families. The numbers are even more dismal for black women according to another 2017 report, co-authored by the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. According to the report, single black women without a bachelor’s degree aged 20–39 have zero net worth; aged 40–59 have just $1,000 to $2,000 in net worth; and those who are 60 and older have just $12,000 in net worth. (Net worth is the difference between one’s assets and one’s liabilities.) Things are not much better for black women with bachelor's degrees: The youngest set (20-39) carries a median $11,000 in debt, while their peers aged 40-59 have a net worth range of $6,000 to $9,500, and those aged 60 and older have a median net worth of $11,000.

JPMorgan Chase and Essence say they are trying to improve this trajectory by providing a forum for black women to talk about finances in a non-judgmental way, support each other and share their hopes, dreams and journeys to financial inclusion.

What can financial educators, coaches and black women do to support black women and expand financial inclusion? Consumer Action encourages them to visit the Currency Conversations website. The site provides video content from past campaign events, as well as resources to help black women identify what is holding them back financially on an individual level; an online pledge to save for a specific goal; and culturally relevant digital tools to facilitate small group discussions with sisters, friends, family, coworkers and accountability partners. (These tools are designed to help black women discuss the sometimes-taboo topic of money.)

Perrott said of the listening tour, “It was refreshing to attend an event where black women were able to walk in their truths and receive financial coaching without judgment. By sharing their pearls of wisdom, as well as some of their past financial missteps, the Currency Conversations campaign ambassadors on the Oakland tour inspired attendees to catapult past silence or shame and towards financial growth.”

Event organizers also provided attendees with a financial journal to help them start reflecting with their peers about what they wanted to accomplish financially. A digital version of the financial journal can be found here.

Consumer Action is sharing information on the Currency Conversations campaign with our network of community-based organizations at our educational trainings and roundtables.

 

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