Sit Yo’ $5 Ass Down Before I Make Change

Single black women, listen to me now. Know your worth. Such a broad statement, but let me break it down (movie quoters, you know the rest). Within the last few months, the media has taken us through it. We’re never satisfied, too educated, too picky, have too many children out of wedlock, too overbearing to get a good Black man, let alone keep one and marry him.

That’s what the news segments on ABC say. That’s what some of our own, such as Jimmy Izrael, author of The Denzel Principal: Why Black Women Can’t Find Good Black Men think. That’s what countless relationships blogs and news columns suggest. Now studies are suggesting something even more despicable: We’re only worth $5.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5

“Among the most startling revelations in the wealth data is that while single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 percent of their single white male counterparts), the median wealth for single black women is only $5.”

Really? Five damn dollars? What can you get for $5? A Subway footlong. A Wendy’s combo meal on a good day.  A stick of gum and a bag of chips. Excuse me, but miss me with the bullshit. There’s absolutely NO way our median wealth is $5, but honestly, it is a wake-up call, if nothing else. Here’s what a source had to say:

“The popular image is they spend too much, which is the reason they are running up credit card and consumer debt, but the cost of living has risen faster than income, and they need to go into debt for basic daily necessities,” Ms. Lui said. “It’s compounded because unemployment is twice as high in the black community than it is in the white community.

Sound familiar? As a money management facilitator, I see this often–lifestyle maintenance and credit card debt. While, I think our wealth quotient is largely incorrect, there’s some truth to this “popular image” Ms. Lui speaks of. Isn’t that the black women’s dream, according to the entertainment industry, specifically hip-hop? To travel to the most exotic places, carry the most expensive bags and rock the hottest shoes and labels–all while hair-flippin a flawless weave? Yep, it is.

Trina’s verse from Memphis’ own Yo Gotti’s 5-Star Chick Remix:

See I’m a 5 star bitch/Cause I aint dat other bitch
She been stugglin for hers/From da womb I been rich
I aint gotta talk about da money /And da shoe game
All you gotta do is Google Trina/See da proof mane?
Cause aint nun of deez hoes, /Doin shows in the recession
They cards get declined, /Now dey sufferin a depression
While I’m spendin mills/Signin all kinda deals
I’m a 5 star bitch eating 5 star meals
My whole life style like Coming to America
All my Louie luggage/You see my bag, how I carry her?
Walkin through the airport/Like I’m in a parade on my hologram
Loggin on to e-Trade*

Foreal, who wouldn’t want that lifestyle? I would. What gets us in trouble is everyday people and even some celebrities not being able to distinguish between real life and fantasy (Where’s Teeny Barino?). Notice the bolded lyrics. With being a consumer comes financial responsibility. In other words, while poppin’ tags, make sure that credit score is on point and invest in your future.**

Music and entertainment are not solely to blame, as there’s a much deeper issue. People have been trying to keep up with the Joneses since the beginning of time.There are other factors that cause us to remain in financial strain. Let’s discuss:

1) Uneducated about finances. Simply put, people don’t usually learn about money in the home, where it all begins. Unfortunately, as we grow and become independent adults, managing money becomes a harder skill to learn. Things I’ve heard: “I didn’t know my credit score drops when I apply for a credit card!” 

2) We help family members…sometimes too much. If single black women are the first ones in our families to graduate from college with good-paying jobs and pursue advanced degrees, we just may be the sole breadwinner in the family (mama, daddy, cousin and all). Many women are paying for their siblings’ post-secondary education and parent’s debts. Sometimes, family can take advantage. Do we know how to say no?

3) We help our mates (boyfriends and boos). Are we trying to fulfill that “strong black woman/ride-or-die chick role or just being stupid? Sometimes it’s necessary when you’re building something solid (marriage) with someone who needs a financial boost. Any other time, it’s just not a smart move. Sex equates to money in our society, but which will do you a better service in the long run?

This post took a totally different turn. I’m supposed to tell you that no media outlet should project who and what we are as black women. The aforementioned story (and many more to come) is a classic example of the Willie Lynch theory.  It’s only when we believe what’s printed and internalize it that “they” win. If there is some truth to these stories, let’s begin to identify our individual issues and make some real changes.

What do you think about our image in the media? Our wealth worth? Speak on it.


*I hope you know what E-Trade is. If not, educate yourself here.

**Andre 3000 said it best in “Hollywood Divorce”: Promise me you gon’ stack, promise me you gon’ ball. Promise me you’ll invest 3/4 of it al. For what? So your kids, kids, kids can have some cheese
Can’t get with it? Get get get get get on your knees cause wealth is the word. Rich is round the corner from the curb. Don’t like what I write? Shoot me a bird


4 thoughts on “Sit Yo’ $5 Ass Down Before I Make Change

  1. people always make the conspicuous consumption argument but people at differnt class/social status spend for different reasons. if you are of the Black “underclass” you are most likely uneducated and your income is low. you are living in a neighborhood where goods are services aremore expensive. you are traveling further to get to work that is if you do have a job. you are robbing peter to pay paul and barely makin ends meet. you may be relying on extended family or the government to fill in the cracks. yes, you are buying you may be buying things you don’t need but you are barely paying bills so saving is out of the picture.
    if you are middle/upper middle class. you are most likely college educated and most likey paid for college via loans and credit cards. you have entered a world where everyday you are forced to show you belong and you buy to show your social status. you buy or rent that nice house in the nice neighborhood, you buy or lease that socially acceptable car. you dress in a way to show you’re middle class and that you belong. you buy in an effort to control what others think about you.
    i completely believe that our net worth is so low (read black wealth, white wealth by melvin and shapiro) but i think it is not for the reasons that the researcher gives. essentially were it not for racism and discrimination, Blacks wouldn’t be in a position where they are forced to spend more than Whites. also, she’s taking an ahistorical view of weal accumulation. much of white wealth has come at the disadvantage of Blacks but folks don’t wanna talk about that…..

  2. You speak the truth Martine! Race is ALWAYS the elephant in the room. I didn’t mention because I think it’s obvious, but also I didn’t want to go Malcolm/Farrakhan like I always do. I doubt we’ll ever be equal in that regard–or any other, for that matter. I’ll check that book out.

  3. I totally agree with Martine. White will always make more at the expense of black people. polled. But I would be interesting in knowing if they polled the same class of ppl, cause $5 is not even real when it’s defining our worth.
    White people do the same things we do, they like name brand things, traveling, and living the good life just like us, some may not be as extreme as we are. White people know how the file for bankruptcy and put things in there children name better than we do.

  4. Honestly, I think these “researchers” are so focused on Black women because they know we will discuss their theories and (un)educated guesses. For some reason, as Black women and Black people overall, we don’t know how to separate ourselves from things that don’t apply to us. For example, have you ever been on a bus and some young rowdy Black kids get on talking loud and cursing? Don’t you feel like crawling under the seat and hiding? We can’t separate ourselves.

    With that said, I refuse to identify with this. I know my worth and it is far more than a $5 footlong or 5 items off McDonalds dollar menu.

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