Evanston’s author’s book offers advice on how whites can better support blacks

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The murder of George Floyd was a catalyst for calls to end racism, racial justice and police brutality, but it also raised a nation’s conscience and prompted many white Americans to seek ways to support black communities.

This prompted Evanston’s author and retired Harvard University business professor Steven Rogers to write an open letter to whites in America on how they can be better allies of blacks.

Rogers’ book, “A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues,” discusses the historical origins of the black-white wealth gap and offers advice on how whites can help black communities.

“It’s aimed at a predominantly white audience, (but) it’s something that applies to all audiences and to all people,” said Rogers, who taught entrepreneurial finance at Harvard Business School. and headed the entrepreneurship department at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. for 17 years.

According to a 2019 Federal Reserve survey, the average net worth of white families is $ 188,200, compared to $ 24,100 for black families.

In the book, Rogers recommends four concrete actions whites can take to help close this wealth gap: deposit money in black-owned banks, donate to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), spend money on black-owned businesses and support the idea of ​​reparations for the historic injustice of slavery.

He began writing it shortly after Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer now convicted of the murder. The book received good reviews and is a # 1 bestseller on Amazon.

“A lot of black people were getting the question (from) white friends, ‘what can I do to help,'” Rogers said. “I wanted to help whites understand how the black-white racial issue was created in America. Over 50% of racial problems between black and white are related to the disparity of wealth. All protests and unrest (of the last summer) were just symptoms of the wealth disparity problem, which is at its root. “

This disparity is the result of more than two centuries of government-subsidized wealth creation for whites at the expense of blacks, including 246 years of state-sanctioned slavery, followed by an additional 100 years of laws targeting blacks, including including codes for vagrancy, redlining and sunset. Rogers said.

For example, the Federal Housing Authority created a mortgage guarantee program after WWII aimed at favoring an American middle class. This program explicitly excluded “Negroes” since the government would not support mortgages for black families, thus creating red districts, Rogers said.

Rogers said such policies prevent black people from accumulating and passing on generational wealth. He calls on whites anxious to right such an injustice to deposit at least 9.29% of their annual savings in a black-owned bank – this percentage represents when former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin had his knee on his neck by Floyd.

“Seventy percent of black-owned bank mortgages go to blacks,” Rogers said. “Less than 1% of mortgages issued by white-owned banks go to blacks.”

He also urged people to allocate 9.29% of their annual spending budget to black-owned businesses – the largest private employers of blacks nationwide – and to donate at least 9.29% of their donations. annual charities to 101 historically black colleges and universities across the country. created because black people have always been denied access to white universities.

“The HBCUs have 300,000 students. They are an extremely important part of the black community,” said Rogers. “They produced over 80% of all black judges, 50% of black lawyers, 50% of black doctors, and 40% of black engineers today.”

As for the U.S. government paying reparations to descendants of enslaved blacks, there are international and domestic precedents, Rogers said.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent imprisoned in internment camps during World War II. The law provided for a formal apology and $ 20,000 in compensation for each surviving victim of the persecution.

“Black people never got anything in 246 years of unpaid work,” Rogers added. “Our socio-economic situation is not due to the fact that we are lazy (or) that we do not work hard. It was done to us on purpose. We cannot run away or get out of it.”

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