The New York Life insurance company recently hosted a panel discussion on bridging the racial wealth gap in Washington, D.C.

New York Life agents were in town for the company’s empowerment plan summit and to celebrate achieving their goal of reaching $50 billion in life insurance plans in the Black community.

The New York Life insurance company hosted a panel discussion on the racial wealth gap in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

The panel featured Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association; Reverend Delman Coates, the senior pastor, Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md.; Darryl De Sousa, the deputy commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department; Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad, an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Howard University; Eugene Mitchell, the African American Market Manager for New York Life; and Jeff Pegues, the justice and homeland security correspondent for CBS News.

Mitchell said that he wanted people to know that New York Life and its agents take economic empowerment in the Black community very seriously, because economic disparities breed lack of opportunities.

“The root problem in our community is not crime, it’s not drugs, it’s not non-nuclear households, it’s the economy,” said Mitchell. “Wealth equals opportunity and the lack of wealth creates hard times.”

Mitchell continued: “We’re bringing this tool of life insurance into the Black community so that we can use it like other have used it for hundreds of years and to create an inheritance and generational wealth beyond covering the cost of the funeral.”

Mitchell said that, with the right policy, when a family member passes away and leaves $100,000 or $250,000 or $1,000,000 that money can be used as an investment to help purchase a house, to fund college education, for start-up capital to start a business or even charitable giving

Coates said that now that New York Life has reached the $50 billion-dollar goal, the Black community desperately needs a macroeconomic strategy that will help to preserve the value of that investment.

“We would be remiss if 20 years from now the value of that $50 billion is $5 billion,” said Coates. “If we’re going to address the racial wealth gap, we must address the macroeconomic mechanisms that causes money to be controlled by people who don’t look like us, by institutions that don’t represent us and that ultimately issue money as a debt in society.”

Freddie Allen

NNPA Washington Correspondent