BY: JEREMIAH CHAPMAN MBA
How Supporting and Investing in Women of Color Can Save Us All
I vividly recall my mother hardly ever wearing make up, hair in two braids and working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet. You know the story - the classic case of being Black in America. I wish it were a stereotype that we could easily debunk, but the numbers don't lie - Black Women head 7 out of 10 households in Black Communities across the United States. As a black male, this is particularly alarming and led to the concept of preserving black womanhood and economic viability. A recent Nielsen report indicates that Black Women are three times more likely to head their household than any other minority group. Contrasting that with the fact that we live in a society that is still in the practice of paying women of color up to 45% less than their average white male counterparts is troubling and should catch more attention from economists.
The American Economy thrives on black dollars and Black Americans being the largest consumers, which would lead one to think that more money in the hands of black women would not only stimulate but boost the economy. Due to the continued influence and advancement of Black Women, economists are projecting 1.4 Trillion USD in buying power for Black America in 2017. That’s roughly 275 percent growth since 1990, when black buying power was only $320 billion. Unfortunately, many conservative policies are centered around maintaining paycheck inequality, which obviously limits that buying power from amassing it's truest potential within the U.S Economy - a petty shot in the foot. Due to the treacherous work environments promoted by these policies, Black & Latina Women have been pushed to become innovators and according to Fortune, Black Female owned businesses have increased a whopping 300% since the mid-90's making them the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States. During that same time span, Latina-owned businesses totaled $65.7 billion, which was an impressive increase of 180 percent. Correlating these statistics together and seeking to support female entrepreneurs of color, I decided to create Natural Fest. It is safe for one to assume that with power and understanding, women of color will reinvest in their communities - ultimately healing them.
Education & Civic Engagement
I remember walking the halls of The Male's Leadership Academy in Charlotte, NC with Principal Todd Pipkin and what he said to me spoke volumes, "I only hire Black Women to educate my students". Although initially alarming, it made sense considering his institution is an all Black school and studies show that Black Female teachers (naturally) have the highest expectations for Black Students. But what this spoke to was the value even the most successful of MEN placed on Black Women being able to nurture and develop our youth. Many may argue that this is confining Black Women to societal spheres but I looked at it as a Superpower.
I thought back to the teachers, advisors and bosses I'd had over time that were Black Women and it made sense. Black Women were always advancing me as a Black Man in my own endeavors and inspiring me effortlessly through their own magic. The full scholarship I received from my alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University was given to me by a Black Woman, the first student organization I founded when I got their was inspired by a Black Woman. Heck, when I got my first internship and later my first job in government it was always Black Women that groomed me to step into those roles. After centuries of being the Black Males and ultimately America's backbone, it only makes sense that Black Women are the most educated group in the U.S according to The National Center for Education Statistics. As the most educated, Black Women are naturally the stronghold of progressive politics. In April of 2016 The Pew Research Center released a study that suggested that more educated individuals are more likely to have liberal-progressive views. Latina's are also making incredible strides as their college graduation rates have increased faster than any other group amongst women.
As an activist and political consultant I have seen the MOST involvement from Black Women, who in 2012 when I worked the DNC in Charlotte, outvoted EVERY other demographic group in the U.S. In The 2016 President election, 94% of Black Women overwhelmingly voted for the more liberal candidate. From organizing phonebanks to protests I can honestly say that at least 80% of the volunteers/interns that showed up consistently were Black Women. In Charlotte, the city is led by phenomenal Black Women like Rep. Alma Adams, Former District Court Judge Yolanda Trotman, Corine Mack, Rev.Dr. Madeline Sadler, Bree Newsome and Ashley Williams. What each of these women has taught me is to fight for justice and the betterment of minority communities at every level. More and more women of color are running for elected office and in the past several decades the number of Latinas in elected office has risen over 105%.
Things are tough for women of color, which is why I decided to create Natural Fest. As a young Afro-Latino male born to a single black mother, I find it increasingly important to create positive spaces for women of color to develop and grow. As a researcher and activist, one must truly appreciate the magic of womanhood in social movements. The statistic that truly compelled this author to take action was that roughly 70% of the Black Panther Party was comprised of women. This statistic alone personifies the undying tenacity women of color have exhibited in efforts to protect the lives and rights of our coming generations. Ergo, the continued support and investment in my female counterparts is paramount to the future of equality I hope to one day see. This analysis is not to downplay contributions made by men of color but to bring light to the marginalization and resilience of our female counterparts. For countless years Black & Latino men have been targeted, hunted and deprived of basic resources. The oppressive socio-economic climate this has created has helped shape the Neo Alpha - Woman commonly seen in communities of color today.
Jeremiah Chapman, Founder of Global Black Student Orientation & Natural Fest. @aspiration_unlimited
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