Rapper, businessman, and activist Michael Render, known to the world as Killer Mike, has long been an outspoken advocate of Black political and economic empowerment. Render recently joined Yahoo News’ Marquise Francis and Spelman College economics professor Suneye Holmes for a discussion centered around Juneteenth and Black financial wellness as part of Yahoo's "Juneteenth: Soul of America" special.
A 2020 report done by Citigroup found that if the wages, education, housing, and investment gap for Black Americans were closed 20 years ago, $16 trillion could have been added to the U.S. economy. And if the gaps were closed as of September 2020, $5 trillion could be added to the U.S. GDP over the next five years.
Render says that within the Black community, increasing financial wellness is just as important as boosting political involvement.
“Take care of your money; your money is every day. Voting happens every two and four years … The dollar you save today is going to save your butt tomorrow. The vote that you plot out today for the next election, it’s going to save you and going to do well,” Render said.
Render, who is co-founder of Greenwood, a Black-owned financial institution that works specifically with Black and Latino people and businesses, says it's important to keep wealth in Black and Latino communities.
"Let’s make sure that Black people, that we’re taking care of our coin. If we’re taking care of our coin, you can fund the type of local progressive politician you wish to see. If you’re not taking care of your coin, then the politicians are [going] to continue to be prostitutes to the corporations that buy.”
Holmes added that Americans have long been indoctrinated and perhaps inebriated by the economic power imbalance in the U.S.
“In a different time period, that power imbalance was more profitable today. We know that it is not, we know that racism discrimination, exploitation, economic exploitation in particular holds all of the country back when we’re holding back particular communities,” she said.
“In economics, we like to talk about how we are optimizing, how we’re making things better for everyone, and in truth, in order for America to be a more progressive country we need to focus on how we can improve the conditions, the economic conditions for the least of us,” she said.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.