Some, but not all, of the explanation for the wealth differences between blacks and whites has to do with inheritances. Slavery, poverty and gross discrimination didn’t create the conditions for inheritances. But slavery and gross discrimination cannot explain today’s lack of saving and investing. Nobody’s saying that marshaling the resources for wealth is easy. Gaining wealth is a challenge, as singer Ray Charles lamented in his hit song “Them That Got”: “That old saying ‘them that’s got are them that gets’ is something I can’t see. If you gotta have something before you can get something, how do you get your first is still a mystery to me.” But as John Harold Johnson, who rose above abject poverty and racial discrimination to build a publishing empire, said, “if you want to know how people feel about themselves, look at their bank account. ... Wealth is less a matter of circumstance than it is a matter of knowledge and choice.”
‘‘The Wealth Choice” suggests several disciplines that can be only summarized here. Among them are: Be passionate, and focus on unique strengths; develop clear, delineated goals. Then develop strong work ethic. Recognize the power of ideas, and never consider the possibility of failure. Be thrifty and frugal in nature. My stepfather put Kimbro’s list of self-disciplines in another way. He said: If you want to be successful at anything, you have to come early and stay late.
When Dr. Kimbro graciously sent me a copy of “The Wealth Choice,” he included an 18-minute video, titled “In Conversation with Dr. Dennis Kimbro.” On top of putting together an excellent book, he reveals himself as an excellent motivational speaker who should be speaking to young people regardless of race.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.