Restoring Black Prosperity  

Photo: Getty Images


“Good habits happen over several generations,” Inclusion and Economic Development Curator Tylene Henry told the Michigan Chronicle previously.   

Those good habits can include developing a pathway to create generational wealth that outpaces poverty and financial insecurity. “A majority of our counterparts didn’t get to where they were [it took] several generations.”  

While advancing toward higher economic growth is key, another reality still exists – systemic racism that seeps into many facets of life. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 survey of consumer finances, the median wealth of white families is $188,200 compared to $24,100 for Black families.  

Omari Hall, a learning experience designer at GreenPath Financial Wellness, said that millennials have over $1 trillion in debt, the most of any generation in U.S. history.   

“Centuries of racism and structural inequalities in the U.S. have contributed to this wealth gap,” he said, adding that “there is essential work that needs to be done to empower Black families, overcome systemic barriers and gain access to the knowledge needed to change this trend.”   

“That’s why we highly encourage people to reach out to trusted organizations like GreenPath so that we can look at your entire financial picture and help devise a personalized plan,” Hall added. “When building generational wealth, we encourage individuals and households to look at how they are managing debt and liabilities, how you approach spending, managing assets and homeownership. A home is not just a place to live, it’s also a valuable asset to your financial portfolio and gives you more financial freedom in both the short- and long-term.”  

The pandemic, despite subsequent effects of job loss, a shaky economy and health issues, birthed many entrepreneurial ambitions and dreams.  

According to, the impact of COVID-19 hit Black Americans differently based on their education level and age group as older individuals fared a bit better off than those with lower levels of education and younger Black adults.    

Lewis Matthews hit his stride in 2018 and grew in 2020 as the CEO and founder of Lumatt Enterprises, LLC, dba New Wave Products, Matthews is an accomplished patented inventor who has over 25 years of experience in sales.  

He told the Michigan Chronicle recently that in addition to his company, which sells serving trays and other items, he brought food into the mix by adding cornbread, Brussels sprouts, and macaroni and cheese.  

“I love to cook and she had a great recipe for cornbread and … [people] loved it,” he said adding that entering into the food industry locally during the pandemic was a journey.  

With his product line soon to be in the Rivertown Meijer Market, Fresh Thyme in Farmington, and on tap for other places, Matthews said that he has come a long way after a brief incarceration stint (for petty crimes) when he was in his late teens and early adulthood.  

Matthews said that after his sentencing he found some issues finding work and establishing his own company was the answer. He encourages others who faced long prison sentences and need work, they should consider working for themselves and creating their own jobs.  

“A job is really not the answer for prosperity,” he said. “It’s definitely not the answer to even help the community and you, the urban community.”  

He said over the years with the racism he has faced, the answer is entrepreneurship – having your own.   

According to, nationally, per the most recent Census data release, there are roughly 3.12 million Black-owned businesses in the United States generating $206 billion in annual revenue and supporting 3.56 million U.S. jobs.  

“Owning your own business is the answer especially if you have a record,” Matthews, who is in good company, said. “You’re controlling your own destiny per se and not depending on someone else to get you a paycheck.”  



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