My heart is heavy with the suffering and deaths of George Floyd and the countless others before him. The civil unrest has brought to light the social injustice, systematic oppression and discrimination that the black community has endured for far too long. I stand with the black community against injustice and racism.
A core value of FIT Advisors is to serve a diverse client base in which differences and values are respected, wins are celebrated, and the ability to grow wealth is possible. Despite the pain and righteous anger of this moment, I feel optimistic that this may be a tipping point for real change.
FIT Advisors is making donations to Campaign Zero, an organization that is working to end police violence in America and the NAACP, whose mission is to secure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination.
There is a lot of work to do. If you’d like to help and are not sure where to start, I have put together the following list of resources. Please stay safe.
Educate Yourself on White Privilege, the Racial Wealth Gap, and More
If you’re learning about racial justice issues for the first time, that’s an incredibly important first step. Maybe you’re finding that family members and friends are open to conversations about race in a way they weren’t a few months ago and want to deepen your understanding. Or maybe, like many of us, you want to do something that will make a difference. Educating yourself is the first step toward being a better ally.
This guide to being a better ally from Great Big Story is a good place for anyone to start. It offers step-by-step instructions, with links, to understanding your implicit biases, adding more authors of color to your bookshelf, adding more podcasters of color to your feed, and more.
Speaking of authors — reading about these issues has helped me deepen my understanding of racism, privilege, and the lived experiences of black Americans. You may have already seen these cross your feed this week, but if you’re ready to learn, I recommend:
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. In this book, DiAngelo encourages white people to examine their defensiveness on issues of race and understand the anger, fear and guilt associated with these issues.
- The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran, which explores the racial wealth gap in detail, as well as a possible solution: Black banks.
- How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. “Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself,” as Ijeoma Oluo said on Twitter last summer.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, in which Coates writes an extended letter to his teenage son about the realities he faces daily as a black man.
- Already read all these? Here are a few more recommendations!
My friend and fellow financial advisor Brian Thompson wrote a piece in Forbes in 2018 that discusses the racial wealth gap. It’s as relevant today as it was then.
Brian points to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies, which reveals that “between 1983 and 2013, the wealth of the median black household declined 75 percent (from $6,800 to $1,700), and the median Latino household declined 50 percent (from $4,000 to $2,000). At the same time, wealth for the median white household increased 14 percent from $102,000 to $116,800.”
How did this happen? Brian points to systemic racism — policies over decades and centuries that allowed white families to build wealth while keeping black families from doing the same. The Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and home loans made under the New Deal in the 1930s made it very difficult for people of color to access the U.S.’s main wealth-building and wealth-protecting mechanisms: Real estate and welfare programs, including unemployment insurance.
“We got into this mess largely because government policies encouraged wealth building for white Americans to the detriment of black Americans and other communities of color. To fix it, we’ll need policies that will help close the gap,” Brian writes. “The response needs to be wide spread including a racial wealth divide audit, improved data collection and tax reform… While we as individuals don’t make policy, we elect the legislators who do. So we should use our collective voices to support and elect those people, especially people of color, that can put this type of policy policy reform in place.”
Finance industry professionals need to understand the forces that created our systems for building wealth. One of those systems was racism. The sooner we recognize that reality, the sooner we can get to work setting it right.
Taking Action: Sign Petitions, Donate, and Vote
Black Lives Matter organizers have rounded up a lengthy list of petitions for police reform here. Look for those relevant to your city or the issues you’re passionate about, and sign.
As I mentioned above, FIT Advisors has chosen two racial justice causes to support: Campaign Zero, which has developed and is advocating for a 10-point plan aimed at reducing police violence; and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, which uses litigation, advocacy and public education to work towards racial justice and equality for all Americans. Join me in supporting those causes or choose one of many others:
- The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is dedicated to seeking justice for the most vulnerable Americans. The SPLC uses litigation and legal advocacy to fight hate and bigotry.
- The George Floyd Memorial Fund, I Run with Maud for Ahmaud Abery, and Justice for Breonna Taylor. These online fundraisers benefit the families of the people killed in recent weeks.
- Bail funds provide cash bail for people who can’t afford it. Most are focused on people arrested during protests right now, but some pay bail on an ongoing basis.
My family and I are making an extra effort to support black-owned businesses in our community this month. To find a list of black-owned businesses in your city, try this link; to support businesses regardless of where they are, here’s another list.
If you aren’t sure where to donate, consider simply donating to Black Lives Matter, which is a global organization whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities.
Last but not least, it is essential that all of us vote — not just in presidential elections, but at the state and local levels. Many of us elect sheriffs, judges, and the city officials who appoint police chiefs. Refer your friends and family to vote.org so they can make sure they’re registered, request a vote-by-mail ballot if need be, find their polling place, and more.
To my black friends, colleagues and clients: I see you and I stand with you. And I look forward to doing the work to fight alongside you.