Caroline Lester | June 16, 2017
InnovationHub | Great Minds, Great Conversations | WGBH Radio
Credit: HAMZA BUTT / Flickr Creative Commons
Back in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson commissioned a report on the state of race in America. The Warren Commission’s ensuing statement: our nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”
Since then, that gap has only increased.
But there are lots of people working on this problem. One of them is Henry Rock. Rock is the founder of City Startup Labs, an incubator for businesses started by young black entrepreneurs. And he thinks the key to closing the wealth gap lies in fostering local small businesses.
- If black family wealth grows at the same rate as it does now, then it will take 228 years for black families to create the same amount of wealth that white families have today. For comparison, that’s almost the same amount of time slavery existed in America. That, says Rock, is a huge problem.
- So where does entrepreneurship come in? “Self-employment is a way in which you can, at the very least, try to get control of your own economic circumstances,” Rock says. “There’s something very empowering about that.”
- Rock would like to clarify, however, that when he talks about entrepreneurship, he’s not talking about Silicon Valley tech companies. “We’ve been fixated on the bright shiny object of high-tech high-growth,” Rock says. “[But] if a micro-entrepreneur was able to hire just one other person… we would be at full employment.”
- Check out this report from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company about how diversity can impact a company’s bottom line.
- CityLab covers the fight for progress in Charlotte and the “New South.”
- Looking for more great I-Hub segments? Here’s an interview on why there aren’t more minorities in tech.