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In April 2016, there was an article in Fortune magazine that stated, “if Black America does nothing, it will take 228 years for them to achieve the same wealth that white America currently has.”

What a staggering statistic, right? Keep in mind that white America accumulates wealth at a rate three times higher than Black America. This fact keeps Black America in a perpetual chase of shrinking the wealth gap. However, I believe we can commence shrinking the wealth gap in half that time, understanding that we are trying to erase a 400-year head start.

As the CEO and Founder of SunShine Real Estate Investment LLC, I see every day that it takes foresight, financial education and action to build generational wealth. Through investment in ourselves and in our community, we can create our very own springboard to propel us forward in the economic sphere we hope to reach. While white America can continue their slow jog towards wealth and prosperity, Black America has to be in a full sprint. I truly believe we can get there, but it will take a concerted effort by all, as well as an effort to change the mindsets of generations.

What will it take to get there? The way we get there is a multi-step and multi-generational process.

Encourage Financial Literacy In Our Community

First, we need a transparent education in financial literacy. Financial literacy is a fundamental part of life that has eluded our community for far too long. A primary lesson to learn is to shift your mindset around money. It begins with the simple concept of seeing money as a tool to create wealth, rather than a tool for the accumulation of possessions. Black America has become one of the greatest consumer groups, and the Black dollar is highly sought after. We can use this to our advantage.

For example, in the 1920s, Tulsa, Oklahoma, was recognized nationally as one of the most affluent Black-owned districts, also known as Black Wall Street. It was a time when Black consumers patronized Black businesses and built their own communities. We were headed towards wealth and prosperity until the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 set Tulsa back generations. Knowledge of this moment in history has come to light in the past year due to popular media. Nevertheless, Tulsa is a reminder that the time is well overdue to rebuild our pathways to prosperity.

Additionally, we must create new, inclusive economic spaces through financial circulation.

Circulate Black Dollars Into Black Institutions

Black America spent $1.4 trillion last year, purchasing goods and services. According to Dr. Boyce Watkins, an avid speaker in the realm of finance and diversity, dollars circulate six hours in the Black community, 17 days in the white community and 30 days in the Asian community. If we were to cut that $1.4 trillion amount by just 10% and deposit that money into Black banks and lending institutions within our own communities, we would have much greater access to capital. I call this creating a closed circle, where capital remains within that circle and continues to grow and build.

Investing 10% back into Black institutions would infuse $140 billion into these institutions that could be used for homeownership, creating more Black-owned businesses and producing more Black landlords and landowners. Notably, most wealth in this country is created in real estate and entrepreneurial ventures.

Invest In Businesses By People of Color

Another way to circulate our dollars and increase Black wealth is to redirect where we spend our money. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter Movement, there have been great social efforts to be more conscious of where we spend our money. You can even see it on social media with consumers using hashtags like #BuyBlack and #SupportBlackOwnedBusiness. We must keep the momentum and make this common practice.

It may help you to think of it this way: Every time we choose to spend money with our favorite commercial brand, we are essentially investing in increments.

If we took 25% of the remaining balance Black America’s $1.4 trillion ($325B) spent on goods and services and directed them into businesses by people of color, this would allow for even further growth of businesses within our communities. Thereafter, we can teach our future generations how to invest in these companies and corporations via the stock market, making these companies stronger and able to create more jobs within our communities. This will help to improve the income of families, allowing them to afford becoming homeowners and business owners.

Land Ownership Must Be The Goal

Owning your own business is incredibly rewarding, I know this as a fact. I take great pride in running SunShine REIT, working to help build generational wealth for everyday people through property investment. Additionally, we've seen more and more Black women start their entrepreneurial journey in recent years. Yet, business ownership is only part of the way to close the wealth gap.

We have to learn to not only own the business, but also own the land and the building on which it resides. My motto is: own the business, own the property, own the block. It does us no good to simply own a brick-and-mortar business if we’re paying rent outside of the community. Sadly, businesses come and go, but owning property doesn’t go away so easily. With this in mind, our objective needs to be about turning the concept of a closed circle, mentioned above, into reality by circulating capital within the community so capital continues to build and flourish.

Now that we have a community of educated and well-employed people of color that are now positioned to be homeowners and business entrepreneurs, financial literacy comes back into the fold. We have to teach future homeowners and business owners about the importance of leveraging their credit and the importance of protecting it. For too long, credit has been the gatekeeper to Black America’s access to capital. For more information, please see sunshinereit.com.

Finally, together as a community we can achieve the aforementioned actions. Our goal doesn’t need to be stopping the rates at which wealth increases for white America. It will keep growing. Simultaneously, we don’t need to accelerate the increase of their wealth with the power of our dollars. Instead, we must realize the power we hold and increase our wealth at greater rates. Then, and only then, will we begin to shrink the wealth gap.


Anthony Woods has been an entrepreneur and investor since 2015. He leads Sunshine Real Estate Investment Trust LLC as the CEO and Founder. His company owns multi-family properties in Buffalo, New York, Niagara Falls, New York, and Chicago, Illinois. See more of his work at sunshinereit.com.