THE BLOG
12/05/2011 09:00 am ET Updated Feb 04, 2012

The Power of the Black Purse: Making Our Voices Heard this Holiday Season!

I was recently pitching a story to a news director about spending a day with a CEO. I really want to get inside a CEO's head and try to give us a picture of his or her decision making process. The show is focusing on jobs, and the news director seemed a bit surprised that I wasn't pitching the latest debate about the jobs bill, or something of that nature.

I pointed out that I've been a financial journalist for twenty years. I think the story that doesn't get enough attention is how limited the government's ability really is when it comes to the labor market.

Despite the sound bites about how one side is crippling the economy's ability to create jobs or the other is anti-American, governments create the environment where the labor market can thrive. They do things like create incentives for companies to hire, make sure we're being treated fairly, invest in infrastructure, and meet important deadlines. (That's another story)

The lasting fix for this economy, particularly the jobs crisis, is going to come largely from the corporate world. By some estimates, U.S. companies are sitting on more than a trillion dollars that they are not putting to work. I understand their reasoning: Consumers are nervous. There is political uncertainty, uncertainty about the global economy, etc. Still, we are in trouble. Some of these dollars could be invested in the American people -- in our community -- through things like job creation and job training.

Black Voices -- Black Dollars

The American recession has become the black community's depression. I don't have to tell you about the high unemployment levels, rising poverty rates, and financial 911 that so many of us are facing.

As I discussed in my last blog, it is very difficult to feel powerful or believe that you can make change when you're facing these struggles.

Still, the numbers paint a picture of a group with tremendous power. In its 16th annual "The Buying Power of Black America" report, Target Market News finds that in 2009, black households spent an estimated $507 billion in twenty-seven product and services categories. That's an increase of 16.6 percent over the $435 billion spent in 2008. African Americans' total earned income for 2009 is estimated at $836 billion.

What would happen if we directed that $836 billion dollars towards companies that helped us? What would happen if this holiday season, for example, we only shopped at companies that were truly committed to giving us jobs and helping us thrive?

Take a look at Black Enterprise's list of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity. I urge you to join me in using the products and services of these companies during this holiday season and letting your thoughts and voices be heard on this blog.

We Have the Stage

A shift in consciousness is taking place in the world right now that can be a true turning point for us. The 'system' is not working and people aren't taking it. Whether it's overthrowing dictators in the Middle East, or 'Occupying Wall Street,' the lines of our tolerance have been crossed and we're fighting back.

Social networks, and the unprecedented ability they have given us to organize and work together, have proven to be a more powerful tool that armies, governments, and corporate board rooms. In the financial world, the bar was set by Occupy Wall Street. One of Occupy's most 'successful children' was by far, Bank Transfer Day.

Fed up with high bank fees, Kristen Christian used Facebook to urge consumers to take money out of big banks and put them into credit unions. A clear vision that prompted banking behemoths like Bank of America , Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase to do something that bank reform legislation, political pressure, and a suffering economy could not, drop fees.

The purpose of this blog is to start a dialogue in the black community that help us move into an emotional, psychological, and financial space where we feel empowered... Where we can collectively and individually make choices that allow us to build wealth.

Give yourself and our community the gift of power this holiday season. When billions of dollars talk with the same voice, people listen!