USA Today Editorial on Blacks' Spendi... Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

Email This Page

  AddThis Social Bookmark Button

AALBC.com's Thumper's Corner Discussion Board » Culture, Race & Economy - Archive 2005 » USA Today Editorial on Blacks' Spending Habits « Previous Next »

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mahoganyanais
Newbie Poster
Username: Mahoganyanais

Post Number: 10
Registered: 01-2005

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 10:41 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I found this piece below to be heavy on stats and light on analysis.

I think it's worthwhile to consider what drives black consumer spending (and lack of savings) besides a desire for "instant gratification" and "social acceptance." I suspect that some of the driving forces aren't unique to us; after all, we live in a consumerist, materialist culture. But the negative consequences have a disproportionate effect on us.

The key is to consider larger factors at work without absolving folks of personal responsibility. That's always the rub.

***

Tough choices for tough times
By Yolanda Young

These are tough economic times, especially for African-Americans, for whom the unemployment rate is more than 10%. Alarmingly, rather than belt-tightening, the response has been to spend more.

In many poor neighborhoods, one is likely to notice satellite dishes and expensive new cars.

According to Target Market, a company that tracks black consumer spending, blacks spend a significant amount of their income on depreciable products. In 2002, the year the economy nose-dived, we spent $22.9 billion on clothes, $3.2 billion on electronics and $11.6 billion on furniture to put into homes that, in many cases, were rented.

Among our favorite purchases are cars and liquor. Blacks make up only 12% of the U.S. population, yet account for 30% of the country's Scotch consumption. Detroit, which is 80% black, is the world's No. 1 market for Cognac. So impressed was Lincoln with the $46.7 billion that blacks spent on cars that the automaker commissioned Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the entertainment and fashion mogul, to design a limited-edition Navigator replete with six plasma screens, three DVD players and a Sony PlayStation 2.

The only area where blacks seem to be cutting back on spending is books; total purchases have gone from a high of $356 million in 2000 to $303 million in 2002.

This shortsighted behavior, motivated by a desire for instant gratification and social acceptance, comes at the expense of our future.

The National Urban League's "State of Black America 2004" report found that fewer than 50% of black families owned their homes compared with more than 70% of whites.

According to published reports, the Ariel Mutual Funds/Charles Schwab 2003 Black Investor Survey found that when comparing households where blacks and whites had roughly the same household incomes, whites saved nearly 20% more each month for retirement, and 30% of African-Americans earning $100,000 a year had less than $5,000 in retirement savings. While 79% of whites invest in the stock market, only 61% of African-Americans do.

Certainly, higher rates of unemployment, income disparity and credit discrimination are financial impediments to the economic vitality of blacks, but so are our consumer tastes.

By finding the courage to change our spending habits, we might be surprised at how far the $631 billion we now earn might take us.

Yolanda Young's next book is SPADE: A Critical Look at Black America.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mahoganyanais
Newbie Poster
Username: Mahoganyanais

Post Number: 12
Registered: 01-2005

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 11:14 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hit send before I finished!

I'd written that the piece was heavy on stats, but light on analysis...

For example, stats for Scotch and Cognac are given, but if "other folks" are consuming more of other liquors and wines, what does the stat ultimately mean?

About the homeownership stat...if I'm not mistaken, blacks tend to be concentrated in urban areas where housing costs are higher and home ownership tends to be lower in general. So, the disparity between blacks and whites in this regard may be driven by something other than us just not having our priorities straight. Who knows?

I believe the author makes her point, and I agree that collectively we should improve our spending and saving habits. But whenever I see things like this (heavy on stats, light on analysis), it feels like a tsk-tsk of black folks' various and sundry "pathologies," as opposed to a more thorough examination of the issue.

If I recall, this was some of the objection to what Cosby had to say a while back. Not that folks disagreed with his observations, but that rather it felt like a hit-and-run job.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 1935
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 02:40 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's like materialism has become the anti-dote for the poison of racism among blacks. Little do they know that the cure can be worse that the disease because there's nothing beneficial about superficiality. It corrupts your value system. You can't buy "class," and knowledge is priceless.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mahoganyanais
Newbie Poster
Username: Mahoganyanais

Post Number: 13
Registered: 01-2005

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Sunday, January 23, 2005 - 02:47 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynique:

Amen.

But do you think this--materialism as an antidote for racism--is a recent phenomenon or worse than it has been before? Jack Johnson, discussed in another thread, comes to mind. I know he was basically a bad-ass determined to do whatever he wanted, but on some level I wonder if he too was attempting to drown his sorrows.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 1936
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 12:30 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, Mahoganyanais, the desire to acquire status symbols has always been with us, and who can deny that the wish to better oneself is a great motivator. The problem arises when this takes precedence over the more important intangible things in life. Is it the Bible that asks, "for what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, if he loses his soul?"
As for Jack Johnson, I think that in his own way he had that indefinable quality of "class", but I would suspect that his extragavant lifestyle was a way of compensating for the fact that in spite of all of his accomplishments, he knew that white America still regarded him as a second-class citizen.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Mahoganyanais
Newbie Poster
Username: Mahoganyanais

Post Number: 14
Registered: 01-2005

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 08:34 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Cynique:

I agree that this desire is certainly not new. But I was thinking specifically of the perception that materialism is *more* rampant now than in past generations because past generations were somehow more virtuous (or smart or level-headed). Is it that, or is it a matter of opportunity? Nowadays, you don't have to be a Jack Johnson or a Madame CJ Walker to acquire status symbols. You just need to have second-rate rap skills or a credit card.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Cynique
"Cyniquian" Level Poster
Username: Cynique

Post Number: 1937
Registered: 01-2004

Rating: N/A
Votes: 0 (Vote!)

Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 12:00 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think past generations were less corrupted by materialism because the accoutrements of affluence were not as easy to come by as they are today. So yes, I think it is as much about opportunity as it is about integrity. I guess our salvation lies in the fact that knowledge and the wisdom it spawns is also more accessible, and that there will always be those among us who realize that - shallowness eventually dries up.

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration

Advertise | Chat | Books | Fun Stuff | About AALBC.com | Authors | Getting on the AALBC | Reviews | Writer's Resources | Events | Send us Feedback | Privacy Policy | Sign up for our Email Newsletter | Buy Any Book (advanced book search)

Copyright 1997-2008 AALBC.com - http://aalbc.com