Indeed, it's very well documented that Blacks in general lag behind their white counterparts on a number of financial measures, including:
- Homeownership rates (did you know 1 in 3 African American homeowners is currently in foreclosure?)
- Lncome levels
- Net worth
- College degree rates
- Dollars invested in the market
...And so on.
But the dilemma facing single black women may be particularly acute when you consider that many have no one to fall back on when times get tight and no real financial safety net. Add to the mix that many of these women are also parents, trying to raise children, and it's easy to see why this situation is so very dangerous. The plight of single black women has the ability to negatively impact an entire generation.
Moreover, when a person has essentially no net worth, it puts you at risk of a whole host of personal, financial and professional problems. Those individuals are more likely to be scammed -- sometimes because their desperation leads them to believe the siren songs of con men. Additionally, people with no financial resources are more likely to go deeper into a downward financial spiral. After all, if you're already broke, and your car breaks down, what do you do? In all likelihood, you whip out a credit card to fix that car, and then you pray that you'll somehow get the money later to be able to pay the bill.
People of few financial means are also more susceptible to being taken advantage of on the job. Consider, for instance, an administrative assistant, a nurse, a teacher or a retail worker who is living dangerously on the brink, in financial terms. If her boss refuses to give her a well-deserved raise -- or worse, does something crazy like makes sexual advances on the job -- how likely is this female employee to fight back or challenge such wrongdoing in the workplace? In many cases, she won't simply for fear of losing her job.
I don't know what all the answers are to overcome this huge problem. But as a black woman, I know that we've got to do better. We must. If not for ourselves, then certainly for our children. We simply must.
On a positive note, I am encouraged everyday by the remarkable resilience that I see displayed all around me by African American women. We are fighters. We persevere. We strive against all odds. I can't tell you how many Black women have written me over the years, or come up to me at financial workshops, and shared their personal stories of anguish and financial stress. Yet, one thing remained constant in most of those stories. They had hope -- or at the very least, they were reaching out for hope. They believed they could have a better future. Therefore, they were seeking guidance.
So if you're one of those black women (single or married) who is broke, keep your head up. Be inspired by positive examples you see and be encouraged by those around you who are getting ahead. Don't hate on others who are prosperous. Learn what they do well, and emulate it. Also, maintain an upbeat spirit and outlook, even through the tough times.
You may be broke. But you're not broken.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, an award-winning financial news journalist and former Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC, has also been featured in top newspapers including the Washington Post, USA Today, and the New York Times, as well as magazines ranging from Essence and Redbook to Black Enterprise and Smart Money. Check out her New York Times bestseller, 'Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom.'