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A new push for empowerment

Melvin B. Miller
A new push for empowerment
“It’s time for you to take over.” (Photo: Dan Drew)

Every year in January, many people draft New Year’s resolutions to correct their bad habits. At the same time, many business corporations begin to implement fiscal year strategies to improve the bottom line. Rarely do ethnic or racial groups mobilize at the beginning of the year to establish plans to improve their economic status. But Freeze Frame Black Boston has begun the process of establishing a black economic manifesto to do just that.

Boston’s Federal Reserve Bank published an economic study in 2015 that revealed the dire economic circumstances of Boston’s black residents. While white Boston residents had an average of $256,000 in assets, blacks had a net worth of only $700. It is fair to say that black wealth was negligible. And the primary route to attaining wealth in America, home ownership, was deficient. While 68 percent of white residents owned their homes, only 32 percent of blacks did so; and in Roxbury, home ownership was down to only 21 percent.

Unemployment for blacks is about twice the rate for whites. This is true in Boston and elsewhere across the country. This racial gap is to be expected in Boston because most of the jobs with attractive salaries require employees to have earned a bachelor’s degree in college. According to the report, while 63 percent of whites in Boston have bachelor’s degrees, this is true of only 17 percent of blacks.

The primary organizers of Freeze Frame have business backgrounds, and they fully understand the importance of a substantial increase in local business development. They found that there are fewer black businesses in Boston now than there were 20 years ago. It is of great importance to stimulate the spirit of entrepreneurship among blacks. The organizers have identified education, health, technology, food service and financial services as promising areas both for employment and business opportunities.

During the Civil Rights era, the focus was to end racial segregation and discrimination. The strategies were civil disobedience and disruptive demonstrations. While this might have been effective when the goal was racial equality, there is no constitutional provision that requires everyone to be rich. New attitudes and different skill sets are necessary to succeed in the business world.

It’s not easy or everyone would be affluent. Freeze Frame is the most comprehensive effort to achieve economic equality, and it deserves community support.