09:28 AM

Financial expert puts racial wealth gap into historical context, offers debt advice

Financial expert, international speaker and author Ja'Net Adams will speak to University of Houston-Clear Lake's upper division and graduate students about the historical context of the wealth gap in the African American community on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 1 p.m. in the Bayou Theater.

Her presentation, entitled "All About You: Understanding Your Financial Journey," will be in person, but also accessible via Zoom. The Bayou Theater is currently operating at 25% capacity (estimated 125 people) and enforcing health and safety guidelines. Masks will be required on campus and in the Bayou Theater.

Adams, who repaid $50,000 in student loans within two years, will share strategies for lifelong financial success for college students, while also addressing the wealth gap and other challenges that students from underrepresented communities face. She'll also stress the importance of "going deeper than Google" in order to understand the past so as to positively affect the future.

Adams said that it's critical for students to understand what historical factors caused the wealth gap, and how to use that information to help close it. "Before Jim Crow and segregation, there were African American millionaires," she said. "I'm going to talk about the systems put in place to create the racial wealth gap. There was a time when bankers drew a red line on a map around African American communities and agreed not to lend money to anyone living there, so people couldn't buy homes or start businesses."

Her message to college students, many of whom have incurred student loan debt, is especially important. "We have a student debt crisis going on now, with the average student graduating owing about $37,000," she said. "It's critical to understand how to get out of debt quickly so you can engage with life. Some students, even 20 years after graduating, can't buy a house, work at a job they want, or participate in the American Dream because of their debt."

She said she would discuss the history of the racial wealth gap and connect it to the current situation. "It's my goal to help students be more successful with their money and the financial decisions they'll be facing when they graduate," she said.

"Much of our success beyond college is not about the here and now, but also our ability plan for our long-term future," said Vice President of Student Affairs Aaron Hart. "You are never too young to start preparing for a successful retirement. Unfortunately, the greatest barrier to financial success is ignorance. Now, more than ever, it's imperative that college students understand and are aware of potential pitfalls and strategies for success to ensure their financial wellness."

To register for the Zoom webinar, go online.