Opinion: Eliminating the racial wealth gap through Bloomberg’s Greenwood Initiative

There is a difference between equity and equality. Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful whereas equality is treating everyone the same. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was essential in delivering African Americans with equal rights, however, it did not provide all of the equitable solutions necessary for our community to thrive economically.

Damaging policies like redlining, predatory lending, housing discrimination hindered economic mobility for Black families, and the consequences of those policies linger in communities across America.

If we are serious about overcoming this injustice, we need transformative solutions. Fortunately, Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has a plan to get it done.

Mike sees these injustices for what they are and he has plans to effect real change for African Americans. He knows our community is not a liability – we are an asset. To that end, Mike is making African Americans the focus of the first in a series of policies aimed at reversing systematic discrimination. 

As a real estate broker, I have spent over 20 years assisting hundreds of Black families and business owners in the purchase of their first property. I’ve seen firsthand the various challenges that many African American borrowers face in an effort to get access to capital, from qualifying for loans, saving down payment funds, or building reserves. 

Unfortunately, upward mobility from the bottom of the income distribution is much less likely for Blacks than white Americans. Fifty-one percent of Black Americans born into the lowest fifth of the earnings distribution remain there at age 40, compared to only 23 percent of whites born into the same quintile. And the average Black family has only a sixth of the liquid savings of a white family.

In order to focus on equity opportunities for Black families and closing the wealth gap, Mike designed proven strategies in the areas of Black business growth, Black home ownership and wealth generation.

Mike has set a goal of one million new Black homeowners. He wants to provide down-payment assistance to first-time African American homebuyers, and help more people participate in the banking system and be recognized by credit scoring companies. He also wants to limit foreclosures and evictions and increase the supply of affordable housing.

But Mike’s plan doesn’t stop there. His plan will also create 100,000 new African American-owned businesses.

And because he’s committed to launching regional public-private-educational partnerships across America to boost Black-owned businesses, the plan will set up user-friendly one-stop shops for entrepreneurs across the country, expand mentorships and incubators, increase access to capital, support black-owned banks and expand procurement from black-owned businesses.

These interventions will go a long way toward helping to bring equity to African Americans families who have suffered for generations. There is so much to do and it will take an experienced leader to put these ideas into practice. And I know that Mike will get it done.

-Courtney Johnson Rose