Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lena Horne: A Class Act

On Friday, legendary actress and singer Lena Horne was laid to rest in New York. At 92, she was still the symbol of grace and elegance. Hollywood royalty came out to pay their respects to the dear lady — Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, among others. Tony award-winning actress Audra McDonald sung Amazing Grace at Horne's casket, a fitting tribute to one incomparable soul.

It is so ironic that McDonald was tapped to honor Horne because I believe she is one of the few actresses who could actually play Horne if her life was made into a movie. Like Horne, McDonald has conquered Broadway, television, film and even recorded several albums. She indeed walks in her footsteps.

Who else do you think could play Lena Horne, a lady who was glamorous, sophisticated, charming and extraordinarily talented?

My co-workers threw out a few names: Paula Patton, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Halle Berry. What do you think?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Money Matters

Does money really matter in a relationship?

Would you date/marry a person who made significantly less than you?

As you may have heard, Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry and her baby daddy, model Gabriel Aubry recently broke up . According to one of the radio entertainment reports, Halle would tell Gabriel that he wasn't putting in his fair share and taunt him with her Oscar. hmmm. Halle has made $20 million a film, unless she's dating Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx or Tom Cruise, she's not going to meet that many people who will "put in their fair share." Of course, she's Halle Berry and can probably date anyone she wants, including billionaires.

But let's talk about normal people.

If you made, say, $200,000 a year, would you date someone who made $20,000 a year or someone who made minimum wage or worked the cash register at McDonald's?

Men don't seem to have a problem dating women who make significantly less. For example, we've seen millionaires who date/marry nannies (Tiger Woods), waitresses (O.J. & Tiger Woods), bartenders (Matt Damon) and school teachers (Bob Costas of NBC sports).

On the other hand, some well-educated, successful, professional women have a problem dating men who are not "on their level." In fact, in a recent Essence magazine article titled, Why Don't We Get Married? Black Men and Women Face Off, one of the male panelists said:"Too many women feel that because they went to a top university and make a certain amount of money, that they are entitled to a certain type of man. You are not entitled to anything. And most men that these women would call "on their level" don't care how much money a woman makes."

(Of course not because men on that level want eye candy, porn stars and model types — but I digress.)

Do you think despite our educational and professional success, women still believe in the traditional role of men as the breadwinner? Shouldn't we just focus on whether he's nice and not how much he makes?

Do you think women believe they will be taken advantage of financially if they're with someone who has less wealth? Is it because they don't want to "take care" of a man?

Do you think men who make less are less ambitious? Do you think some men feel emasculated, less than a man, if he can't support his family or makes less than his mate? What about the school teacher who doesn't care about money, but wants to make a difference in the lives of children? Does that make him less desirable because he doesn't want to be a millionaire?

On the other hand, do you want to be in a relationship where you are footing the bill for everything — movies, dinner, trips, hotel, airline tickets, concerts, etc. What if you were married and had to pay for your own wedding ring, the wedding, the honeymoon, buy the house and both your cars, the furniture and every other expense — but he was a nice guy (loving, kind, caring)?

What if he keeps the house clean or rubs your feet after a hard day's work? What if he just lends a supportive ear during an extremely stressful time or hugs you close when all the world is against you? Isn't that all we really need, someone to hold our hand and ease our fears?

Everyone likes to be wined and dined, but would you rather have a nice man with an average income who is faithful or a successful millionaire who cheats?
I have one friend who is a doctor, married to a mechanic. Another friend who makes six figures working in the financial industry is married to a department store clerk. Both seem happy.

So I guess my question is, does money really matter in a relationship?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

100th Blog Post !!!

Wahoo !!!!
This is my 100th blog post.
I can't believe I've written a hundred blog posts in just a little over a year.
Oh, my.

So, what shall I write about? I promised myself that I would not focus on boys for this momentous occasion. It's hard because I have some boy news for you, and you guys seem to really like the boy news.

But it will have to wait. I want my 100th blog to be about something important: our finances. Ladies, we are not doing well.

First, let me clear up a huge mistake that was in the media a few months ago: The median wealth of Black women is not $5. It's not.

The truth is the median wealth of MINORITY women (Black and Hispanic) between the ages of 36-49 (considered the prime working age) is $5. For White women in the same age group, the median wealth is $42,600.

Did you get that?

This is all according to a study by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development . Their report, "Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America's Future," looked at the wealth gap between White women and minority women. And what a gap ! The study found that minority women have only a fraction (a fraction !) of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by single White women. Wealth is defined as the value of one's assets (real estate, savings, checking, stocks, bonds, etc.) minus debts.

Let's look at some numbers:
Single Black and Hispanic women have a median wealth of $100.
Single White women have a median wealth of $41,500.
Nearly half of all single Black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth.
Most of the wealth owned by Black and Hispanic women come in the form of vehicles - a depreciating asset. (There goes my BMW).

*** Never-married women of color experience the largest wealth disadvantage and — according to the report — Black women are less likely to marry and remain married. (Ouch!)
Never-married women of color have a median wealth of zero.
Never-married White women have a median wealth of $2,600.
Divorced women of color have a median wealth of $4,200.
Divorced White women have a median wealth of $52,120.

Depressed yet?

Let's look at some more numbers:
Minority women between the age of 50-65 have a median wealth of $56,980.
The median wealth of White women in this age group is $111,400.
Interestingly, the median wealth of Black women drops after the age of 65 to
$46,800. But it increases for White women to $191,070.

Women of color had the highest poverty rates for people over age 65.
Nearly 40 percent of Black women age 65 and older who lived alone were poor compared to only 16 percent of White women.
More than 60 percent of White women age 65 and older receive income from assets compared with only a quarter of Black women.

About one-fourth of Black women do not have a bank account.
Only a third of Black women own homes compared with 57 percent of White women.
45 percent of White women own stock compared with only 23 percent of Black women.

So, what does this all mean?
Well, for me it means I need to marry a White man.
(I'm too old -and ugly- to have a baby by a rapper or athlete).

But seriously, we just have to take better care of our finances. We have to spend less and save more. We need to have assets so we won't be struggling during our retirement years.

I encourage you to read the entire report. It's quite interesting. It gives a number of reasons why there is such a huge wealth gap between White women and women of color including historical and institutional reasons as well as our own cultural obligations to family that keep us in debt.

Any thoughts?