By Reuben Greene,
Special to the AFRO
On Sept. 30th, 2023, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore played host to the
Generational Wealth Diversity Summit, a pivotal event that brought together experts and business leaders to address the pressing issues surrounding wealth diversity in America.
Organized by Sharif J. Small, an accomplished financial expert and the founder of S.J.S Financial Firm LLC, the summit provided a platform for thought-provoking discussions and innovative solutions aimed at narrowing the generational wealth gap among minorities.
Over the past 50 years, the wealth diversity gap in the United States has reached alarming proportions. This gap has disproportionately affected minority communities, particularly the Black community. Stark statistics from the last three years underscore the severity of the issue; According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020, the median household income for Black families was $45,438, while it was $76,057 for White families.
This staggering income disparity reflects the substantial economic divide between these two groups. According to the Federal Reserve, 2021 revealed that the median net worth of White households was $188,200, significantly higher than the median net worth of Black households, which stood at just $24,100.
Additionally, a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2022 found that Black students are more likely to attend underfunded schools, limiting their access to quality education and future economic opportunities. All of these are contributing factors as to why financial literacy, business development and ownership in Black communities are so important.
Attendees filled the auditorium, listening intently to conversations between a panel of remarkable individuals, each with their own inspiring journey to share. These power couples and entrepreneurs served as living examples of resilience, determination, and the capacity to overcome the formidable challenges that often hinder minority communities from achieving financial prosperity. All of them emphasized the importance of unity, teamwork, and mutual support in both their family and business lives.
Robyn Murphy, owner of Murphy Enterprises, served as the co-moderator and brought her extensive experience in business development and entrepreneurship to the event. Together, Moderators. Small and Murphy orchestrated a powerful panel discussion covering a wide range of topics related to wealth diversity, economic empowerment, and investments.
Business owners Leonard and Bianca Wise, shared their insights on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and wealth-building strategies. The Wise’s have successfully built thriving businesses, Wise Choice Moving; Hauling and Home Helpers Home Care of Baltimore. Chris and Jada McCray, another dynamic duo of entrepreneurs and co-owners of BTST Services; Black Swan Restaurant, were also part of the panel discussions. They spoke candidly about the challenges they’ve faced and underscored the significance of resilience and adaptability in the world of business.
Mutually, the panel agreed that balancing the demands of a thriving business and fulfilling family life is a delicate art that requires dedication, prioritization, and careful time management.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that achieving this equilibrium is not just a personal aspiration but also a vital component of sustainable success. As a partnership, they recognize that while building a prosperous business is crucial, it should never come at the expense of their family’s well-being.
The AFRO spoke with attendees from the University of Baltimore Law School (BLSA) Black Law Student Association regarding their experiences at WDS.
“This event fosters the development of Black wealth and I want to support that mission. It’s important that we teach our community how to invest in ourselves ,” said Adaku Irondi, a second year law student at UBLS and Treasurer for BLSA.
AnnMarie Bingley, another second year saw student at UBLS, said that representation is key. “We as Black women make up less than 2 percent of lawyers in this country, walking into this field with the understanding of building sustainable financial wealth is the foundation our community needs for success,” she said.
Paris Holmes, a fourth year law student at UBLS, spoke on how Black people must get involved in important conversations that create change. “I came out today to volunteer for the event for the second year in a row,” said Holmes. “It’s important for law students to be involved in this event because law firms are businesses and an integral part of business strategy. If we as Black owned law firms support other Black businesses in their journey, it will assist in building wealth for generations to come.”
When privately asked about the significance of the summit panelist, Bianca Wise stated the event “is about making sure our community is taking part in an authentic vision and wealth-building initiatives. We have to show up as the stars we are born to be, taking accountability for the futures of our families.”
The Generational Wealth Diversity Summit 2023 proved to be a transformative experience for all who participated. It demonstrated that the journey to financial prosperity and equity is not a solitary one but a collective effort that involves learning from those who have paved the way. As attendees left the event, they carried with them not only the knowledge of the wealth diversity gaps severity but also the inspiration to take actionable steps towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all, guided by the wisdom of those who have successfully navigated the path to generational wealth.