By V.S. Santoni
NASHVILLE, TN — White Americans make up 60 percent of the population but hold 84 percent of total U.S. wealth. Meanwhile, Black Americans languish behind, only holding a miniscule 4 percent of the wealth while making up 13 percent of the population. This staggering wealth gap has social, political, and economic factors. However, according to Alfred Edmond Jr, Senior VP and Editor-at-large of Black Enterprise, a Black-owned multimedia company, Black Americans can breach this economic chasm, but it starts with their health.
Since 1970, Black Enterprise has dedicated itself to building generational wealth within the African-American community, and it recently held its first ever “Health is Wealth” weekend in Nashville. Bringing together a bevy of speakers, including NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace and celebrity trainer and content creator Gerell Webb, the event highlighted the connection between health and building generational wealth. Edmond, himself a speaker at the conference, said they offered sessions on meditation, mindfulness, a panel discussing the social determinants of health, and exercise experts and fitness enforcers even devised a quick and flexible 20-minute routine. “It’s about adopting habits in your own life that address your health holistically,” said Edmond.
Edmond said he’s passionate about building Black wealth, and that the Health is Wealth weekend helped unite different views and techniques garnered to render long-lasting results with the ultimate goal of building generational wealth. To close the racial wealth gap, Edmond says two things must first be addressed: Black Americans earn 30 percent less than White Americans so improving wages for Black workers is key to bridging this inequity. Second, and equally as important, Edmond said peak earning years come after the age of 50, but health plays a major role in determining how much wealth one can amass. According to a 2022 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Black Americans have the lowest life expectancy of any racial group in the United States. Edmond believes this prevents Black Americans from making economic gains in their mid- to late life. He says that while some may live to their 60s and higher, health issues beset their money-making potential. He also tasks local churches with assisting the betterment of community health, saying that “Everything in the church kitchen is designed to give you a heart attack.” But he is a man of deep, deep faith, and his criticism doesn’t come from a place of umbrage, but instead his devout Christian ideal that one’s body is their temple, and the key to success is guarding and upkeeping that temple, so future generations can enjoy all the wealth that temple has to offer.