✊🏽 ✊🏾 ✊🏿 Why We Matter: Fireside Chat with Shawn D. Rochester
For this installment of Afroflare's Why We Matter Speaker Series, Fallon Blossom will host a fireside chat with Shawn D. Rochester, author of The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America .
Hello, Cloudflare TV, and welcome to another episode of the Why We Matter Fireside Chat series organized by Afroflare, Cloudflare's ERG for folks of African descent and our allies.
My name is Fallon Blossom. I'm the content manager for Cloudflare TV, and today I'm chatting with Shawn D.
Rochester, the author of the Black Texts, The Cost of Being Black in America.
Shawn, how are you doing? I'm doing great.
I'm happy to be on with you, Fallon. I'm looking forward to the conversation.
Same, same. So for those of you who may not know Shawn, he's the CEO of Good Steward LLC and founder of PhD Enterprises and the Idea Institute.
So these organizations provide financial education and advisory services to consumers.
They increase the presence of Black employees and enterprises in the US public and private sectors, payroll and supply chains.
That's a mouthful. And facilitate commerce between the Black business community across the African diaspora.
So this is from the continent to the Caribbean on down to the US. So this is all in addition to the books you've written.
So clearly you're busy. You're doing a lot and it's great to see.
So we're going to get into, you know, your life, the book, the Black Texts, you know, this framework that you've laid out in your book and why all that matters.
And most importantly, we look forward to taking your questions.
We're going to try to leave some time at the end. So please email us.
Please reach out because we definitely want to have a community conversation today.
All right. I'm going to wrap up this intro and we're going to get started.
So, you know, you've had quite the career. Like I've just listed all of your accomplishments and I've been talking for like 10 minutes.
You know, what were those experiences like for you?
They were, in general, they were great. I had, you know, I studied chemical engineering, which is all about problem solving.
You know, so I worked as an engineer for a number of years in a heavy capital intensive industry with lots of challenges, lots of responsibility early on in life.
And then went on to get my MBA, went to do, you know, lots of work in finance and mergers and acquisitions and sales operations and strategy and, you know, a bunch of different things, which led to a lot of global travel, you know, all over Asia and Europe and, you know, Southeast Asia.
So it was, it was a great experience.
It brought a lot of perspective that I think is very helpful for me now and the work that I do.
Nice. So can you speak to, you know, why, you know, you went out on your own and why you felt the need to kind of start these companies and start these institutes and, and write the books that you've written?
You know, like in my last role, I traveled like 80% of the time, kind of all around the world for companies to purchase.
And I did that for a number of years.
That's really tough to do when you have a young family. Right. And so it's really important to be present.
Like they developed an amazing knowledge of world geography, kind of where I was, but you do need to be present.
Right. And then the thing was, you know, what are the things that I can do that allowed me to do good and to do well, and to tackle these really big challenges.
And one of those big challenges was the wealth gap, which is enormous.
Right. And I first wanted to do that through what I call personal financial management, which is helping people to manage their resources for their highest and best use so that they can, you know, maximize the assets that they own, maximize assets of retirement.
And that led to thinking about encouraging them to commercialize Black businesses and Black firms and Black service providers.
The challenge there is, you know, we often think of doing business with us as either like a charity.
You know what I mean? I'll help you out.
Or it's like a cost. You know, you're going to kind of take the L to do business with us.
So that's kind of the thought process. I wanted to show people what the real cost is of what we're doing now.
And that led me to really think back on a lot of the studies that I had seen about the impact of discrimination in the Black community, which felt like a tax thing.
And I decided to start to aggregate that and look at that in the present context, but then to look at it in a historical context.
So how long did it take you to pull all that stuff together? Because again, I read the book.
I encourage folks to read the book. It's very cognitively rich.
There's a lot of information. There's a lot of data. You name check a lot of, you know, research.
It's almost like a dissertation. You know, how long did it take you to pull all that stuff together?
It's a multi-part thing. One is there's probably like a, you know, four or five-year process.
But the last year was very intense.
That was, you know, pretty much all day, every day. And I actually wrote two books at the same time.
You know, I built an online curriculum. There were a bunch of things happening, right, all at the same time.
So it was a really, really deep dive.
And it's kind of like when you start pulling at a loose thread on a sweater, it starts to unravel, right?
And you start to see more and more interesting things start to happen.
And that's what occurred. You know, I call the book, it's deceptively small, right?
Yes. You know, and, but it, because I don't reference anything that I can't tie to published research from the finest institutions in the country.
So I'm very kind of net inefficient, but also making it extremely easy to read, right?
Yeah. And, you know, and it's really resonated with folks.
Yeah. No, like before we hopped on, I was saying that I felt like I needed to kind of like journal a little bit or write a little bit of a reflection after every chapter, because everything that you said in there kind of, it set up this wealth gap and set up the African -American experience specifically in a different way, in a very different framework.
There's one that I had never really heard before.
So, so let's actually, let's talk about it. So can you define what the black tax is or like how your book discusses this concept of the black tax?
What is it? Yeah. So the black tax is the financial cost of anti-black discrimination that emanates from either conscious or unconscious bias from individuals or institutions or corporations, right?
So in the book, I look at how does that cost manifest itself, right?
In a financial or impact to the black community, black people as individuals in the black community, cumulatively both past and present.
So the way the book is laid out is the first part of the book, you know, I look at the financial cost of discrimination in markets that are really critical to wealth accumulation for the black people, people in general, but for black people in particular, which is housing, it's automotive, to insurance and finance that underpin those things.
It's online commerce, the job search, high-end careers, capital raising for business, and so on and so forth.
The second part of the book, I do a look back from the time of slavery and just kind of walk through to the present and really quantify these really discriminatory practices that were put in place.
And then in the third part, I kind of do a summation of where are we now economically.
And I introduced this framework called PhD, which stands for purchase, hire, and deposit in ways that create jobs, create and expand business by capital, right, in a black community as a means of addressing the effects of the blackness.
So it, if I'm hearing you correctly, it's kind of always existed.
It's kind of in everything. And it's something that has been holding back African Americans to kind of move forward and really experience the American dream, so to speak.
Is that a fair assessment? Yeah, it's anti-black bias and its manifestation form of discrimination has existed.
Okay. Places that we call America, it's existed in other places before that.
So it's definitely looking at that and it's understanding to what extent does it still exist?
And not just does it exist, but does it have a financial implication?
Because we always have the so what question, right? So what, right? And what I'm looking at is always the economics.
What is the cost of that? Most people are, you know, when we talk about discrimination, we're focusing on the social, the civil, the social morality or injustice.
I'm looking at it from the economic perspective.
What did that cost, right? When you say something is not that big of a deal, what you are implying directly is it had a small financial effect.
There's nothing that has a financial effect that you say is not a big deal.
Okay. Yeah. So let's, let's talk about that financial effect and let's kind of talk about it over time.
So like, you know, the first part of the book lays out, you know, the concept of the black tax and then it kind of walks you through history.
So, you know, this is the Why We Matter speaker series, you know, inherently we're trying to have this conversation about value.
So what was, what has been the value to like African-Americans to this country and our work, our labor, et cetera, over time?
Can you talk about that a little bit? Yeah. So do you want me to talk about it cumulatively or in parts?
Um. Path of slavery and path of Jim Crow. I can tell you what all that's up to.
All right. Uh, let's, let's talk about what it all adds up to.
Maybe we'll get into specifics a little later. I don't want, I want to make sure we get enough time to talk about everything.
If you talk about the full economic impact of resources extracted from millions of black people for several hundred years and resources denied to black people during that same period of time, you're talking upwards of 70 trillion dollars.
Okay. I need a, I need a moment.
Seven, zero, 70 trillion. Yes. Wow. That's a lot. That's a lot. How, how, how, how did that happen?
How does that happen? So the first part you have to look at is what is the, as many things you could never price right.
Like the formative bedrock institution, right.
So if you look at that period of time, it's almost 250 years in which millions of people, you know, are enslaved and their labor is not compensated.
What is the economic cost of that?
By the way, there's plenty of things you can never price, right.
What is the cost of, you know, being a man and being unable to protect your family, your loved ones, and being a woman and being unable to control your body for the entirety of your life.
Can't, can't really price those things. But labor extracted, the estimates, some are as high as 24 trillion, some are as high as 97 trillion, right.
Labor extracted from millions of people over almost a quarter of a millennium.
So, you know, assuming that the truth is somewhere in the middle, you're talking about upwards of 50 trillion.
That can seem like a really large number, right?
It is. It is. Like go to 1860. You got 40, you got 4 million Black people, almost 4 million Black people held in bondage.
They represent 15% of the full economic value of the South.
They're the most liquid asset in the country.
They are trading on open markets. There's prices for these folks. There's the price of the old, young, able-bodied, lame, doesn't matter.
If you look at what is the price of those people, the value of them, the aggregate in today's dollars, the numbers are so large, you have to measure it in terms of national wealth or national income.
So from a wealth perspective, they were worth the equivalent of 16 to 20% of U.S.
wealth. Now, when I wrote the book, U.S. wealth is about $85 trillion, right?
16 to 20% of that is 14 to 17 trillion. Take an average of that, you're at 15.5.
That's one years of value in those books. You look at it from a national income perspective, the estimates are their value was one to two years of GDP, the national income.
National income pre-COVID was 19 trillion. One to two years is 19 to 38 trillion.
Take an average of those, you're at 28.5. Take an average of those two independent modes of coming up with it, you're at 22 trillion.
You go back to 1839, I think it is, Henry Clay, it lays out the estimate of the value of people held in bonds at that time on the floor of the U.S.
Senate. He places it at $1.2 billion in that day.
You look at the work of Thomas Piketty, he shows that slave-related investments yielded 68% per annum on an annual basis.
If I use something below that range, 5.5, I'm at 24 trillion in today's dollars.
You say, I don't know who that dude is.
We go back to the 1810s and look at what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison estimate the value of those people to be.
It's one year of national income and equivalent of 19 trillion in today's dollars, or the sale of a third of all public lands.
The point here is that the value of these folks, that's the present value in today's equivalent, back to today, is massive.
It's hard to conceive.
The idea that this is not a big deal in terms of the country is absurd, just based on the data, not about human's thought.
Once you're talking trillions, because again, all of the numbers that you've thrown out here are in the trillions.
I don't know anyone who doesn't hear the word trillion and sit up and pay attention.
Again, my eyes were widening and moving all over the place as you're throwing these numbers out because, again, I can only speak from my experiences growing up in New Orleans as an African-American.
That is not what the common narrative is about your value.
I don't necessarily know if a lot of us are getting that kind of information in our formative years, for example, to help us view ourselves in a different way.
When you hear that your ancestors, for example, in my case, were worth trillions, but then it's difficult to compare and contrast that with the current moment.
Walk me through then to now.
We've talked about the history. How has that played out over time since then, since slavery?
How has that, or at least maybe since civil rights fast-forwarded to around that time, how has it played out since then in the more modern time to help folks understand?
One of the things that's important to know is there was no end.
We are, like, yes, we had this period, and then it came to an end.
What happens in another destination is very similar to what it was before. People left bonded with no economic resources.
They were not given any startup capital whatsoever.
Then they have a short period of reconstruction reprieve that people spend a lot of time talking about.
They're effectively ushered into a Jim Crow system that lasts for another 75 plus years that is effectively still slavery.
Why is that?
Slavery, by definition, is a 100% tax on your labor. Like I showed you, it wasn't that these people were just poor.
It was a 100% tax based on your labor.
Why is that? Because all the things that they needed to bring the crop to market, they had to borrow from the white landlord.
Food, clothes, shelter, tools, everything.
The mule, the hoe, the shovels, the seed. Yeah. At rates, it's high 70% per year.
They're setting your cost structure. Then when you take it to market, the small white farmer tells you what it's worth.
They control your revenue.
If somebody controls your revenue, they control your cost, they control your profit by definition.
If you're lucky, your profit will be zero. If you're unfortunate because they don't want you to go to somebody else who might be more generous, the profit's going to be negative.
They're going to roll that into the following year and now you're in perpetual debt servitude.
Nothing that you produce is effectively yours on minimal sustenance level.
That's slavery by definition, which is why they call it slavery by another name.
How does one accumulate wealth across millions of people under that framework and that context?
Once you see that, you start to see, wow. A, people didn't know. B, you start to understand it would be almost impossible to do that in significant ways.
There are some people who are able to accumulate wealth.
It's extraordinary what a lot of people in this country have been able to do under these circumstances.
It's very important that the context be made clear and well understood.
Okay. My question to you now is, what is the current state?
What does this look like now?
How has it changed? Well, things have changed with severity. If you were in the South, one of the most dangerous things you could be is Black, male, and ambitious.
You could be killed for that. Black people who were killed for pursuing the American dream because that was beyond the bounds of what people understood or felt that Black people were or should be.
It was not as blatant as that clearly.
Outcomes are not as deterministic. You can now go to various universities, but that was absolutely not the question.
You could engage in commerce more freely, but it necessarily wasn't the question.
The level, the base was so horrific.
The issue is more like, are we where we should be? Where is that point? Where is here?
You mentioned that in the book. How do you define here? For me, it's all from an economic perspective.
People talk about the wealth gap all the time. It's like a thing now.
For those who might not be aware, can you give a short little primer on the wealth gap?
The wealth gap or the racial wealth gap is the gap in wealth between Black families on average and white families.
That gap, the difference in wealth is $841,000 per between the average Black and the average white family.
That's just every year? That's what it is now. It's widening. If you multiply that by 17 million or so Black families, it's about $14 trillion.
That's where that number comes from.
It's an impassive number, which the scope and the scale is so much bigger than what people understand by just saying the word is the wealth gap.
That's the current scale of affairs. The other issue, and by the way, there's a massive gap in jobs, underemployment, and unemployment.
There's a massive gap in businesses.
There's 2.56 million Black businesses. Only about 4% of those have any employees.
That 4% generates about 7% of the 11 Black employees, almost $180 million people.
We're missing 1.4 million of those. There's only about 109,000 of those businesses with employees.
Wow. It's incredibly small.
We don't have a well -developed business infrastructure. We don't.
Again, if you're growing up in the United States, people tell you to start, I mean, seven streams of income Twitter would have you believe that entrepreneurship is the path forward.
Starting a business is the way to go for anyone, but especially for minority folks.
Yeah. Start starting a business with phenomenal outstanding is necessary.
Right. But there's a continuum of businesses, right?
So you have the individual who's incorporated has a side hustle.
You have an individual that has 3 ,000 people working for them, right? Right.
And that's generating a billion dollars a year. So where are you on that continuum?
And there is definitely a massive gap across the full spectrum market.
We need more Black businesses of the size and scope and scale that could be suppliers into larger enterprises, larger institutions and into governance, right?
And there's a lack of that.
So what is the availability of capital to help finance the growth or the acquisition?
Hmm. What is the demand for the products and services that I incorporate those businesses within supply chains?
It's hugely stimulative for job creation.
And then the idea of the employee or entrepreneur, it's not binary.
Most entrepreneurs who worked in industry. I mean, I'm talking to one.
They developed a skill set. Right. They now take to kind of their own private enterprise.
So you can do both. And there needs to be a healthy balance of both.
And what you have is a gigantic gap in both. As you know, there are jobs that pay transformative incomes, right?
That's intergenerational wealth associated with that.
They need to have more representation there. And we also have to have far more representation in larger enterprises and small and medium sized businesses as well.
Yeah. Agreed. Agreed. So I think what we've been kind of talking about sort of kind of is the 2% type of rule that you laid out in the frame in your book.
Can you talk more about that explicitly, like how you figured that out and what that means?
Yeah. So I call it the 2% rule or paradigm.
And basically, as I was doing research, I kept seeing this number show up again and again and again.
Right. And it was 2%, 2%, 2%. And it turns out that in areas that are really critical for wealth accumulation, people tend to have a lot of participation rate of about 2%.
Across everything. A myriad of places. Right.
So if you look at total corporate supply chain with black enterprise, not minority, but black enterprise, it's less than 2%.
Government supply chain at all levels, that is local, less than 2%.
If you look at, you know, black span with black enterprise, it's like 2%.
If you look at the amount of capital that's in black banks, for example, that's far less than 2%.
But that's, I think, $4 out of every $10,000 in the banking system.
$4 out of every $10,000? Wow. Okay. That's not a lot.
When you look at representation in tech, what's the number that you see? Yeah.
Somewhere between two to four, five, if you're lucky. Yeah. We'll take it. Yeah.
Hey, it's something. So, but when you look at that across, you know, areas that are really high growth, you know, high earning careers is typically, you know, 2% on average.
Right. So it just shows up again and again and again. And so that's where I kind of talked about that 2 % rule.
You know, so what's the amount of US wealth, right, that black people have is roughly 2%.
Right. So it's extremely difficult to affect the type of change that we would like to have when you have such a limited amount to, you know, wealth and earning potential.
Right. So, I mean, so, so far, again, we've been talking about this system that obviously, you know, we have not yet been able to amass enough power or privilege to design.
Is there anything that like African Americans, black folks are doing to contribute to this at this point?
Like, or, you know, what, yeah. To the solution of it?
Well, to the solution to the problem, I just think about the conversations that happen around kitchen tables, a lot about, you know, respectability, certain kinds of black folks versus different kinds of black folks.
This is definitely, you know, internal type conversations. And so, did your framework, like, is that, does that show up in the framework, like ways in which we might be harming ourselves or not necessarily realizing our full potential in those moments where we can?
I guess is what I'm thinking about. Yeah, no, we definitely contribute to it.
The impact is not nearly as large as the environmental impact, by the way.
Right. Right. Because again, that's the prevailing narrative. It's like, you know, if you just followed the rules, if you just pulled your pants up, if you just go to Harvard, if you just do the right thing, things will happen for you.
And for some that happened, I mean, it happened for me, you know, not going to lie, but is that scalable or was I just lucky?
I don't know. So let's look at the data.
So if you come from a community of high levels of persistent poverty, people are 10 times more likely to be exposed to white people.
Say that one more time. 10 times more likely to what?
More likely to be exposed to than white people. Got it. Okay.
You're likely to, you're 99% less likely to graduate with a four-year degree than someone who comes from a community of resources.
99. 99. That's almost a certainty.
By the way, I didn't say Harvard. I said. No, a school. A school. I didn't say you were like beast mode.
Right. Right. Right. I just said you graduated.
Now you set the bar even higher to get into those places. Right. You're talking, it's much worse than obviously, you know, one in a hundred.
That is not about the individual.
That is what that environment is producing. I see. Products of their environment.
Right. You don't go to Harvard to overcome the environment of Harvard.
You go there to be a product of it. Right. Benefit from its capital. Yeah. From the resource and from the environment.
You're around lots of excellence all day.
Has an impact. And being an environment that is resource poor has an impact on you as well.
Environment is the vast determinator, right. Of success.
Much more so than the individual. You can just look at the numbers. And it's just, you know, very clear.
So if you're coming from that environment and you're achieving great things, you're much more likely to be an outlier.
And outliers, by definition, are not repeatable.
And part of the problem is we're being given outliers as role models, as opposed to even the infrastructure of how do you go from here to there?
And that infrastructure requires economic resources to actually get you from here to there.
Right. So and that's what's missing. You know, so and that's that's part of what people need to know and to understand.
We have this view that it's all about the individual.
Individuals exist within systems.
And systems are reacting to this individual. And it's reacting in biased ways.
So there's anti-Black bias. And then there's something known as automatic white preference.
So anti-Black bias levels are actually very high in this country. That's what people have to know and understand.
Now, what's the difference between the two?
Because, I mean, it almost sounds like you're describing very similar things.
So what's the difference between anti-Black bias versus white preference? Because is there a difference?
They sound very close. Describing different sides. Okay.
So when you're when you're doing research to figure out implicit bias, unconscious bias.
Okay. This is a really clever way how to tease that out because it's happening in the subconscious.
You're not aware of it. Right. Okay. The way they do it is they try to figure out how long does it take for you to associate something positive with a Black face versus a white face.
Oh, is this the IAT from Harvard?
The implicit association test? Okay. Yeah. So they have that. People have taken that.
So it's a difficult thing to have forming positive or negative associations with a Black or white kind of face.
Or it's how you feel about an inanimate non-racial object after you have seen a Black or white face.
So people negatively about an inanimate non -racial object after they've seen a Black male face.
Right. So it is an indication of the level of anti-Black bias. And in Harvard, in this research, it's actually called automatic white preference.
Automatic white preference. Got it. Okay. Characterizing anti-Black bias. Right.
And the issue is, how does that show up? It shows up, as you've seen in the book, in terms of how a person's work product will be evaluated.
Right. How many errors you will find in the same exact work product.
How you will respond to a resume, depending on if the name sounds Black or white.
Right. You have these triggers for conscious and unconscious bias.
Right. So what I spent a lot of time doing is talking about what the research says that those triggers are.
And show people how it's manifesting in areas that are really critical to wealth accumulation.
Because people, you know, if you look at the IAT research and stuff like that, I think it's like 75% of the people who have taken that have automatic white preference.
Right. And they say that the presence of automatic white preference can lead to discriminatory behavior.
Citigroup did this study on the impact of discrimination over the last 20 years.
They placed that number at $6 trillion. You've probably seen that.
In that report, they report that for the white people in particular, the IAT at Harvard, it is 85%.
85. So higher than the average. Yeah. So the point here is that these levels are high.
Yes. It's not egalitarian. It's not. It's all the same.
Then what I do is I look for, OK, well, how does that show up when you're buying a house, when you're buying a car, when you're getting insurance, when you're getting the financing, when you're acquiring for a job, when somebody is evaluating your work product, when you're getting a business loan.
Right. And you see these virtualized effects again and again and again. And I just take the extra step of quantifying.
So what does that cost? What does that actually cost?
Because I'm more focused on the economics than kind of the emotion. At the end of the day, this shows up as a cash flow impact, which not only affects the present from the family community, it has an intergenerational impact.
It affects the legacy.
Yes. Yes. Yeah. And when you put it like that, it's very difficult to, again, like you said, discount it because once you're throwing around, you know, two percent numbers like ninety nine percent numbers like trillion again, again, you got to kind of set up and pay attention and interrogate it a little bit further than just like, I don't agree.
So I think we've clearly laid out the problem.
Well, we could probably keep talking about the problem for maybe another hour, but it's a big problem to solve.
And you kind of started touching on a little bit of the solutions, but kind of the solution that I see most often employed by companies and the one that seems to be the easiest to adopt are trainings related to unconscious bias, like awesome things like an ERG ecosystem to give folks safe spaces.
I believe that obviously those solutions are going to be helpful to move this forward.
But, you know, you talk about in the book how like diversity and minority doesn't necessarily mean like black specifically or African -American for the for the sake of this conversation.
What did you what do you mean by that?
Talk to me a little bit more. Yeah. So normally when people say like minority, diversity and stuff like that, but generally you're missing some non-white men.
Oh, OK. So if you ask yourself, well, who's that? That's 90 percent of people on Earth.
Right. Incredibly general. Right. So you create generalized solutions for specific problems, like all the stuff I'm walking through will happen to black people.
That wealth gap is with black people. Right. So how do you address that?
And so, you know, as an engineer strategist or really anybody who's kind of working problem, you really think deeply about the individual and the ecosystem within which it operates.
So you understand the parameters of it.
And then you design problems that are specifically tuned to addressing those issues.
So I think it's important for us to define what the issues are. And it's the gap of jobs, business and capital that has to be driven by discrimination, needs to be driven by these kind of biased perspectives.
But at the end of the day, what you need to see is an increase of material impact on job creation, business formation and expansion, capital availability and affordability in the black community.
This is what I talk about in my Ph.D. economic framework. So if you're trying to judge the efficacy of a plan, a policy program or whatever, to have impact in the black community in particular, you need to be able to demonstrate the evidence of job creation, right, business development, information and capital availability at scale.
So does program X do that? To what extent does it do it?
And that way it helps you to move away from things that are very general and things that are symbolic.
Now, let me give you some kind of concrete example of what I mean by being specific, because I talk about blacks specifically.
I think you should be considering programs for the groups, the individual groups within this giant envelope, right?
They're not all the same. You don't have the same- Right, the BIPOC, Rainbow Coalition.
I mean, it's beautiful, but these different groups do have specific problems and there might be some overlap.
Yeah, you should kind of tune to it.
They have different histories. They have different per capita wealth, business infrastructure, income, a whole host of things, right?
So if you look at the supply chain spend, right?
So if you look at, say, all right, I want to do a program where we're going to invest more women-owned businesses, the bigger ones with employees, right?
I'm like, fantastic, right? Double, triple, quadruple down on that.
Love it. How much revenue does a business supply? 1.23. How much of that is for black women?
I'm going to let you guess at the number, right? Two percent?
So when you have a super generalized focus, it's not going to be until the $99 that that will go to a black entrepreneur, right?
That's not a very effective way to get it to them.
The other issue is if you say, let's double down and do more business with our Latino brothers and sisters, you know what I mean?
I think that's great.
Double, triple, quadruple down, you know what I mean? If you look at those businesses with employees, they generate about $380 million.
But if you ask yourself how much of that is coming from black Latinos?
Afro-Latinos, yeah, yeah, which is a subset, but it's us too, right?
Take a wild guess at the number. Half a percent.
It's like less than 2%, right? So it's that 2% that's coming in. And then you have the same thing, right?
As you're investing the $199, the $100, that really kind of gets the Afro-Latino business, right?
And then if you invest more in our Asian brothers and sisters, I think that's great.
Double, quadruple down on that, there's $620 billion because black people don't get that definition.
So if I add up that entire group, only 4% of that, and that's diverse, by the way.
That is a very, look, we've only talked about folks that would fit under that BIPOC moniker, acronym.
Yeah. So if I add up all of that, only 4% of that is going to be black and Afro-Latino.
Wow. You understand what I mean? So you can have incredibly successful, diverse programs, inclusive programs that have marginal to no impact on black or Asian people.
That's what that's going to focus on, right? And the bias levels are actually quite different across people.
They're not the same. The intensity, that's quite different.
And the durability of it, right? That is. So we actually got a question from one of our viewers.
So yes, she's an Afro-FLAM member.
And she said that she's curious if Sean thinks that anything has changed from when you wrote the book to now, pretty much almost exactly three years later.
What has changed?
Um, there is, because of, you know, the incidences, you know, sparking, you know, George Floyd and the pandemic, there is more, I call it like a piercing of the veil.
Piercing of the veil. Okay. Right. People had one view of what America is and kind of what that experience was like, it should be for black people.
And they saw something different. They saw public execution, right?
In real time of a person that there's no justification for whatsoever. And then ensuing protests on a level that people have not seen.
So, and that sparked, you know, conversation, right?
About what is happening and what do we do and how do we show solidarity?
And let's think about, you know, we've got a company saying, you know, we're going to put money in, you know, CDFIs, we put money in, you know, social justice, right?
Nonprofits. So you have much more conversation that's happening.
Yeah. You have, you know, more investment that's going into kind of various organizations.
And you have lots of people that appears who are being promoted because of this stuff.
You know, our first this and our first that and those types of things.
The issue becomes, you know, if you add this up, how many jobs are created?
Right. How much capital is being provided, right? Now there are companies who are putting up kind of large numbers, right?
Morgan Chase announced $13 billion, right?
U of A announced a billion dollars, right? And others, smaller numbers, relative.
But what are the actual gaps? And are these amounts enough? Like these are the things that we need to examine.
So are people doing more? Yes. Yeah.
But you have to remember, it's off a small base to begin with. Right. Moving the needle is still, you know, we still have a bit to go before it feels significant.
I'm like, I'm sorry, that 2% thing, it messed me up when I read it and it's messing me up now what we're talking about.
That's tough. That's, that's, I mean, yeah.
It's the outcome of this history. Yeah. Right. It's the logical kind of outcome.
And people are seeking out information. You know, there's the Black, you know, authors are doing really well.
Black bookstores have had a resurgence.
You know, there's lots of conversations. People didn't know what Juneteenth was.
Black people. No, no, no, definitely not. I mean, unless you were somehow connected, you didn't know.
No, you didn't. Or you didn't think about it as a positive thing.
I mean, I think there's still a little bit, some of the community is a bit ambivalent about it because inherently, you know, look up Juneteenth.
I won't talk about it now. But yeah, depending on your perspective on that, that might not necessarily be a good thing.
Yeah. I mean, you know, my hope to answer the question, yes, things have changed.
Is it enough? Right. And is it on a sustainable path?
Yeah. And is it focused? Right. Because a lot of this stuff is being invested in diversity.
Yeah. Right. But what about the equity piece?
That doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to go to Black companies or Black people or Black community.
Right. So and that's a that's another issue that's very challenging because this isn't a giant homogenous group.
Right. Anti-Black biases and levels are held across all groups, including Black people.
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. These things are problematic. The gauge is always jobs, business, capital.
Yeah. Right. Jobs, business, capital. What are people doing? Right.
And what companies are really taking the lead on that and having, you know, our conversation for them investing resources.
I think it was Netflix decided about some percentage of their available cash moving to Black financial institutions.
Right. Mm hmm. It's not CDFI. Right. Like with all the communities.
You know, that's a great thing. That's got to be done on scale. It has to be.
The gap is massive. Some type of redistribution has to happen to actually really change things.
We're actually getting more questions in. So we have about 15 minutes.
I'm going to ask you these two. Um, so two questions. Are you hopeful or happy with the speed at which things are changing?
And who do you think is most responsible in facilitating change in this context?
Uh, I'm, am I, am I hopeful?
I guess. Yeah, because this is, this is tough. Again, this is, folks, this is a tough read.
It's a good read, but it's, it's tough. Yeah. I'm an optimist because it's solvable.
There's nothing here that's not solvable. Right. So, um, I, I have a particular definition of hope, which is what you do after all you have done, when you're not sure, certain of the outcome.
I don't think we've done all that we have done.
Right. So it's premature. Right. To be, to be kind of hopeful. The point that's important for people to understand is first you have to shift the paradigm.
People have very strong positions. They're very passionate about those positions and they're not well -informed positions.
They lack the information in the context.
So you have to educate people about these matters so that they see that's the first thing, even before you start providing solutions and all that.
Solutions to what? They don't, they don't see the problem. You know, people say, let's talk about race.
I'm like, nope. You know, what kind of conversation does the uneducated, uneducated have with the ill-informed?
Oh, that's a word.
Educated on the matter. Right. And this isn't in K-12. It's not in university, not in our religious institutions and our places of worship and all that kind of stuff.
Right. You get access to the information to see, so we can understand why there's a need for this.
You have to understand that there's an opportunity cost of discriminating against people.
Right. If you look at the work of Gary Becker, the world's economics of discrimination, he clearly lays out that both parties engaged in discrimination, both the discriminator and discriminator pay an economic price.
This is costing the country money when you underdevelop people and you don't allow them to develop their skillset.
That's why you get better results from diverse teams.
It's not magic. You're including the brilliance of formerly excluded populations.
It's very important that capitalists, stakeholders, shareholders, and people who execute the strategies and leadership positions understand this.
You're losing money. The pie is bigger when you include people.
There's brilliance in New Orleans. There's brilliance in Watts.
There's brilliance in Wampanoag. There's brilliance in Ferguson. Right.
By the million, it's not being developed and it's certainly not being deployed and we cannot afford the opportunity cost.
Right. That requires a paradigm shift for people to get that.
To me, it's beyond hope. I know it's doable. It's important for people to do it and giving them the understanding that they can deploy their resources appropriately.
They can do so in a sustained, long-term manner.
Right. Right. Again, is that a shared responsibility for all of us? Where's the onus?
The onus is on who to start this shift? Yeah. The onus is obviously it starts with us.
Right. We've got to do business with each other. Right. We have to concentrate our capital.
We have to operate in more cooperative ways. But then corporations play an enormous role.
Financial institutions play an enormous role.
Right. Governments play an enormous role. Like do more business with black enterprise.
Provide the acquisition capital. Right. And the working capital and the growth capital.
This stuff isn't magic. You know what I mean? There's a structural problem.
You don't have enough companies of the size, scope and scale to be a major supplier into these massive institutions.
Right. How can you leverage what you have to have a significant effect in terms of job creation, business development and capital availability and affordability?
Like everyone can do that. And you can make money while you're doing it.
It's not a zero sum game. Right. And that's what's been understood for centuries.
It's actually not. Right. The cost in a sense.
McKinsey did a study that said if you eliminated the wealth gap, it would stimulate $1.5 trillion of GDP, incremental GDP.
That's for everybody. Wow.
You know what I mean? You've got to think $1.5 trillion, folks. That's a big number.
We're only talking trillions today. It's not parity. No, that's not. It's not support like we talked about.
There's no such thing as support. Yeah. And you've got to ask your politicians.
You've got to have the right language. Like you want them to have to be able to do policies that are stimulated for job creation, business development and capital availability and affordability within a black community.
No community can have the outcomes that we all want with a gap in jobs, business and capital.
It does not exist and it cannot exist in a capitalist society.
So we have to attack those things. And the pie is bigger for everyone.
Yeah. Like Southern folks say, ain't no getting water out of a rock. Right.
And that is very much like trying to get water out of a rock. So since we're kind of being hopeful and thinking solutions, I want to talk about, we have 10 minutes left, too.
I want to make sure that we talk about that framework. You mentioned that PHD framework.
So can you talk about what that means? I know it's an acronym and maybe a bit of how you can apply that framework to help move the needle and start working on these problems.
Yeah. So PHD stands for Purchase, Hire and Deposit.
It means that create jobs, create and expand the white capital in the black community.
The P, if you're an individual, that's just our consumer spend.
It's what we spend money on. We can spend money on whatever we want.
We don't need anybody's permission. Right. So, you know, when you buy a car, you buy it from a black dealer.
Black people buy five million cars on an annual basis.
Right. That's tens of billions of dollars. There's really great jobs associated with dealerships.
I think there were 16,000 dealerships before COVID. Two hundred and sixty nine or so were black, an infinitesimally small number.
Right. You know, when you're buying your dream house, if you said, what's the use of black realtor when you're going to turn that house into a home about using a black contractor or the tradespeople.
Right. Or a black designer. Hey, black designers. So and that's huge.
Like I think it's 2016, black people bought one hundred and seventy seven thousand homes.
If they had used black realtors, you'd need fourteen thousand more realtors working every day, all day to process all that stuff.
And interest rates are really great right now.
Right. So who is your wealth advisor or your financial advisor or your accountant or your lawyer?
There's all these great service jobs that are not going to be out offshore.
Right. That we can use, not just us, like anybody can do it.
Right. Because it's stimulative and it's very critical. If you're a corporation, a government institution, that's supply chain.
Right. How do you set up programs to be able to do more business with black enterprise and not just to say so, but to actually do it and to report the numbers clearly, not just talk about what you're doing with kind of minority enterprise because you can under the umbrella.
Yeah. Be specific. Yeah. OK. So that's the P. What's the H? The H is the hiring.
Right. That's all you and I and HR stuff. Black people properly represented across the payroll at all levels.
Right. And what are the efforts and the actions and investments that are being made to do that?
That is critical because that's affecting the income and wealth of families and that overflows into communities and churches and nonprofits and reverberates is critically important.
Black people are underrepresented, undercompensated in these various roles. That's you.
And then when you have the D, that's about deposits, which is how are you using what you're balancing to create liquidity for black communities?
That could be, you know, do you bank with a black financial institution, a bank or credit union?
Right. Are we putting money into the archives? Are we developing financial institutions that are providing liquidity?
Right. Or are we putting it in other community banks that are forward facing when it comes to black communities?
That's really critical.
Right. You cannot have business growth without access to capital.
That drives employment as well. So you have companies that are starting to think about how are they leveraging their balance sheet to do that.
And then there is like who manages your pension fund?
Right. In terms of black asset managers, we've got to get beyond kind of this routine symbolic um, you know, discussion and actions and say, is this being similar to the job creation and business formation in terms of capital delivery and affordability, right, in a black community?
And are these policies, plans and programs aligned with that? And if so, is it in a material way?
Right. And that's measurable and specific and actionable. And that is, again, getting us more than two percent.
Again, I'm sorry. That's that's really sticking with me.
So I have to ask you, we're asking all of the folks this month during the Why We Matter Fireside Chat series.
So why does it matter that you, Sean Rochester, are doing this work?
Why does that matter? Um, yeah, I'm just trying to do my level best to help them, you know, make a contribution to solving this problem.
And you can't solve problems that people don't see as problems, particularly if they think we're the problem.
The first step is to prepare the ways to give people information and context so they can be educated and informed and have arrived at a place of understanding, you know, and empathy.
And then the second place is, you know, what can we do together to really transform the situation?
Right. I haven't even seen the true greatness of what we can all do right together.
And that's a powerful, right story and outcome. So I'm just a guy trying to make a difference.
So and what's next for you? More books? You're going to start another company?
You got another institute? What are you cooking up?
There are lots of things going on. It's clearly it's, you know, more talks and conversation, right.
There's more consulting with organizations and leaders about how they put this stuff in place and in their context.
Right. There are some books on the horizon.
I can't even believe I'm saying that. Right. Remember my editor being like, yeah, when you write your next book, it's like next book.
I was like, I was done. But there are some other interesting, you know, pieces to be done, which I will eventually get done.
And then it's just helping as many, you know, entrepreneurs to get capital and to get access to platforms, you know, as possible.
OK, so VCs, founders, people reach out to you. You're helping with all of that good stuff?
Normally entrepreneurs. Normally entrepreneurs.
OK. Yeah. So there are people who are actually working on solving these problems.
Right. We're working on providing, getting access, you know, grant capital, non-delivered capital, because there's a funding gap between black and white founders at seventy five thousand dollars on average.
That's just the money. The money that the first charge of money is money from me as an individual.
Right. And when you look at the data, it says the average black family is like two hundred dollars a week.
How many friends and family do you have to go to even if you have a brilliant idea?
Right. You don't have to get to that. Right. Right. Yeah. You gotta solve real problems here.
And lots of folks are approaching this stuff in superficial ways and have really brilliant ideas and not getting the capital.
No, because you could go to the church. They could take up as many collections as possible, but it's nothing in comparison to someone who has a trust fund.
You know, that's tough. Yeah. If we or anybody concentrates their capital, there's tremendous work that we can do in there.
This is for another conversation. But part of the problem is that we don't concentrate our capital.
We operate as a group of individuals, which is far less effective than a group of organized individuals.
Hmm. Oh, yeah. I have a lot of questions about that. Yeah, but that's more than we have time for.
So prediction time. So I'm going to look into my crystal ball and ask you to do the same.
What does the future look like in your opinion for us?
How can we mitigate this back black tax? What what is the path forward? Yeah. How's it looking on the horizon?
Yeah. The the path forward is at scale is doing it ourselves because it's not reasonable to ask people to do things that we won't do right ourselves.
It's understanding for people to understand that the best form of solidarity or allyship is economic solidarity.
Right. And not just, you know, symbolism.
It's ensuring that our politicians know what policies, plans and programs are extended to creating jobs, businesses, providing capital and black communities to solve these various gaps.
It's that we need to invest right in education in a new and a transformative way because our young people are not being developed.
And that's an enormous drag on on the, you know, on the economy. Now, history is says, how long would this period last?
And what will be the response to this period?
And there's always a negative backlash that kind of goes along with it.
So are people truly committed to a long term strategy? Are they trying to make coin investments that they expect to play out next week?
Right, because it took, you know, 400 years here, 576 years in the West to get to this point.
Right. This is a multi decade, you know, endeavor that we have to be committed to really setting this up for your children and your and their children to finish the work.
So, you know, I think it's entirely solvable. Yeah. The issue is to do what we can with what we have together.
Yeah. Right. And others will come along with you.
Right. If they see the results and that and that's the business of it. You know, I understand the history.
I absolutely know where this would go. Yeah. We have a we have a we know what has happened.
And when you don't learn from those lessons, they tend to repeat themselves.
But yeah. Yeah. Huh. Well, I have to say it.
The book is a great read. It is a short read. It is an intense read. But I look at it as a resource.
And like I said before, we got on the call. You know, I can see myself keeping this book with me throughout my development as I grow into my own financial literacy.
And as I see myself as a collective and I start, you know, doing that generational wealth building for my family, it's good stuff.
So highly recommend. And I want to say it's been great chatting with you. And please stay tuned to Cloudflare TV for more stuff this month.
Happy Black History Month.
Thank you. Thanks. I appreciate it.