Debunking the Stereotype of “Free Stuff”

Thursday, October 01, 2015 Written by 
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When GOP candidate Jeb Bush discussed how he'd win over the black electorate, he could not help putting his foot in his mouth.  Trying to distinguish his party from Democrats, he alluded to black voters as people who only want a hand out.


“Our message is one of hope and aspiration," he said.  "It isn't one of division and, 'Get in line, and we'll take care of you with free stuff.’”  The stuff he refers to is presumably public assistance, food stamps, etc.  Although not as damaging as Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comment, the way Bush views African Americans is loud and clear.


Perhaps if he reads Nielsen’s new study about blacks and affluence, he’ll understand how times are changing.  But I won’t hold my breath.


The study, released during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. contradicts a popular theory about blacks and wealth.  In fact, it upends many of the outdated stereotypes reported about African Americans, from education and income to media consumption and social engagement.


Despite what is often reported in mainstream media, all African Americans are not at or below the poverty line.  A great number are technology literate and are saving for the future.


This new report, Increasingly Affluent, Educated and Diverse: African-American Consumers – the Untold Story, is the fifth installment in its Diverse Intelligence Series.  It includes insights about affluent black consumers with annual household incomes of $75,000 and higher.  Some of the findings are very encouraging.  In regard to personal expenditures, spending on personal insurance and pensions is around 14.7%.  Retirement, pensions, and social security are 13.8%.


In terms of education, Nielsen found:


·          The rate of black high school graduates enrolled in college increased in 2014 to 70.9%, exceeding the rate of all high-school graduates in the nation.


·         23% of African-Americans with annual household incomes of more than $100,000 search for jobs online (compared to 14% of whites).


·         11% of African-Americans with annual household incomes of more than $100,000 take college courses online (compared to 5% of whites).

Not only are outdated stereotypes of black folks debunked by the Nielsen research, but the W.K. Kellogg Foundation found blacks are among the most charitable when it comes to giving. 


A report released by Kellogg in 2012, “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Colors,” shows a growing trend for communities of color to give at increasing rates and levels.


The study revealed that African-Americans, give away 25 percent more of their income per year than whites and 63 percent of Latino households now make charitable donations. People of color are also growing in size and their assets are increasing as well,


“Say the word ‘philanthropist,’ and most people envision wealthy white do-gooders writing large checks in millions” says WKKF CEO and President Sterling Speirn told


“In recent years, the definition of philanthropy has begun to broaden to include a larger swath of human generosity, with any-size contributions not just from the wealthy but from people of every income bracket,” he says.


At 45.7 million strong, the nation’s black population grew at 17.7% from 2000 to 2014 — 35% faster than the total population and double the 8.2% growth rate of the white population, according to Nielsen.  This population growth is attributable to immigrants coming to America from the West Indies, Europe and Africa. 


“The size and influence of affluent African-Americans is growing faster than that of non-Hispanic Whites across all income segments, and the impact is being felt across industries,” said Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, Senior Vice President, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen.


These facts, coupled with a high level of charitable giving by blacks in proportion to income, makes African Americans much more self-sufficient than was previously reported.  And let’s not forget about all the tax breaks and other perks afforded someone in Jeb Bush’s income bracket.  Is that not “free stuff?”



Read 5784 times Last modified on Thursday, October 01, 2015

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