It’s Lonely At The Top For The Black One-Percent

Wealth/Nick YoungsonBlue Diamond Gallery/CC-SA-3.0


For the Black one-percent, the phrase “mo’ money, mo’ problems” rings especially true. Apparently, the grass isn’t necessarily greener for those African-Americans who have achieved astronomical levels of financial success.

So, what does it mean to be a Black one-percenter?

For starters, the minimum net worth to make the cut is roughly $8 million. Very few Black people have amassed this much wealth, making up less than 2 percent of this top tier of earners.

It turns out that it really is lonely at the top for these Black folks as well. Since the overwhelming majority of people in this elite club are white, there is a good-ole boys (...and girls) club that is very selective about who gets access to the privileges of the wealthy.

As an example, homeownership remains a challenge even for the Black one-percent. Frequently, they have difficulty selling homes to whites who refuse to live somewhere a Black person once lived. Realtors have even encouraged wealthy Black homeowners to remove all family photos when showing their properties, so white buyers can envision it as a white space.

Professional athletes and entertainers make up the largest segment of Black one-percenters. Others own finance, real estate, construction, and insurance companies that help bolster their nest egg. The common thread is that these folks don’t work ordinary jobs and have mastered investing and ownership.

There is no traditional path to become a one-percenter, so each person has their own unique blueprint. For example, Debra Lee, CEO of BET, is an ivy league graduate while Lebron James finished high school, yet both have reached the elite 1% status.  

Historically, for whites, wealth has been passed down from one generation to the next. It continues building over time. Unfortunately, 400 years of slavery denied Black people the opportunity to own appreciating assets which we could pass on and keep the wealth in our families.

Further, there is an American notion of “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” that fails to take into consideration that many people don’t have “boots” in the first place. In turn, the boot-less have no foundation to stand on to even begin working towards financial freedom and the American dream.

This is why the Black one-percenters are such a fascinating group. They have overcome insurmountable obstacles and traversed endless barriers to wealth accumulation set in place to keep Black people in poverty.

Ultimately, wealth is about power. We can’t afford to have a crabs in a barrel mentality because nothing is accomplished when we are constantly in competition with each other. Instead, as many wealthy Black people do, we should uplift each other and celebrate our successes.

If you want to get into the minds of the wealthy check out The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires.

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