When considering a more equitable future, remember Black women.
On July 10, 2023, New York City onlookers witnessed the celebration of Black women executives in Times Square. The moment followed the ringing ceremony of the closing bell held inside NASDAQ MarketSite.
“As we have celebrated Juneteenth on June 19, but also we’re getting ready to celebrate Black Women Equal Payday, which is coming up later this month, to be positioned between those two dates is very meaningful for us to have been at NASDAQ during this time and to celebrate in New York City and uplift Black women,” Paradigm for Parity CEO Sandra Quince explained to AfroTech during the 2023 Elite 100 Wealth and Legacy Summit. “I am proud and pleased to have been a partner with Diversity Woman Media, to also have our host company, American Electric Power, be here and support us, and for all of the coalition members, and to celebrate the Elite 100.”
“Today was just very motivating, very inspiring,” Gigi Dixon, executive vice president and head of external engagement for diverse segments, representation, and inclusion for Wells Fargo, told AfroTech. “It’s always great to see more Black women doing great things in corporate or wherever they are. We’re queens. We need to embrace that and live as though we know that, which means we have to be prepared.”
The summit reflected Black excellence, as Black women executives gathered and provided a space for insights on how to set Black communities up for success.
Award-winning media host and entrepreneur Angela Yee served as a keynote speaker. While discussing “Building A Wealth Legacy,” she shared how she’s helping formerly incarcerated women reach success through the development of a 30-unit building in Midtown Detroit, MI.
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“It’s really hard to get housing when you get out of prison,” Yee explained during the 2023 Elite 100 Wealth and Legacy Summit. “If you look at the numbers, of how difficult it is, they used to ask you if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, and people would not get housing.”
The Ladies of Hope Ministries Founder Topeka K. Sam knew this story all too well. She faced a 130-month sentence, which was later reduced to 65 months, Forbes reports. Upon her release, she dedicated her attention to creating The Ladies of Hope Ministries, which assists women with safe housing and reentry support.
Sam was part of the all-women team that Yee gathered to back the building property. Her involvement in the project shed light on the challenges that those behind bars often face and further validated the importance of providing support to women who have dealt with similar obstacles.
“She [Sam] got a presidential pardon from Trump,” Yee mentioned. “When we included her in this deal, the bank actually wouldn’t get us a loan unless we took her off. It was very emotional because it was yet another obstacle for somebody who has great credit and all of those things. But I was like, let’s get this done right so that we can later on discuss what type of policies need to be implemented in the future so this doesn’t happen to somebody else.”
She added, “So, part of what we’re doing with that building is making sure that women who are formerly incarcerated have a certain amount of those units that will be allocated to them.”
When speaking about equity and wealth building, it is essential that those who have served time behind bars are not left out of the conversation.
Per Prison Policy, Black and Native Americans released from federal prison had the lowest earnings. Additionally, white individuals “appeared more disadvantaged and less employable ‘on paper,'” as a result of longer sentences or higher substance abuse rates. However, those individuals remain employed at higher rates than people from the Black and Hispanic communities who were sentenced to prison.
There is still much work to be done, and change won’t happen overnight. Yet, a prevailing theme throughout the summit was Black women across various industries have been committed to breaking down barriers and being the driver of change.