By Itoro N. Umontuen | The Atlanta Voice
During the throes of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Georgia State Representative Dar’Shun Kendrick had an idea to help people raise capital, with the hopes of generating Black wealth.
Kendrick, an attorney by trade, is an expert in raising capital. After much thought, Kendrick had a call with a dozen individuals. After the call, four remaining Black women were interested in her idea. What resulted was the formation of Dollar Empowered Community, LLC (D.E.C.), a real estate syndicate with five principals each residing in DeKalb County.
“I said, ‘if you’re interested in joining this journey with me, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be frustrating and it’s going to be long. But if you really believe in this and want to join me and reap the rewards, then let me know,’” Kendrick said. “And it was all women. Well, it was men on the call, they didn’t rise to the occasion why it’s all Black women, we had white people on call, they just didn’t rise to the occasion.”
Joining Kendrick is Teresa Hardy who serves as the D.E.C.’s CFO and she also serves as the Dekalb County CEO of the NAACP. Plus, Edwina Clanton who serves as Chair of the Stonecrest Business Alliance, Stacey Thibodeaux who serves as the D.E.C.’s secretary, and lastly, Amy McCoy who is the founder and Broker of My Hometown Realty Group. McCoy previously was the President of the West Georgia Board of Realtors®.
The D.E.C. hosts private and informative discussions on building cash flow, community investment strategies, and capital asset appreciation.
“We had one common goal: to build wealth on or close the gap of Black wealth in our communities,” Hardy explained. “We’re all community-based, but we are also hard-working women, and we want to transform not only Black people but Black communities in general.”
According to research by the Brookings Institute, the wealth gap preceding the COVID-19 pandemic was staggering. The median white household held $188,200 in wealth in 2019—7.8 times that of the typical Black household ($24,100).
The same study found in the second quarter of 2020, white households—who account for 60 percent of the U.S. population—held 84 percent ($94 trillion) of total household wealth in the U.S. Comparatively, Black households—who account for 13.4 percent of the U.S. population—held just 4 percent or $4.6 trillion of total household wealth. Hardy says it’s a mindset that has to paradigm shift that must happen for the dream of Black wealth, en masse, to become reality.
“I think that’s where we are all coming together saying: Okay if they see us doing it, or even if they participate with us along the way, at least they know it can happen,” Hardy said. “We could have done this behind closed doors, and then came out and said, ‘Hey, we got ours. You need to get yours.’ But no, we’re saying, ‘okay, here’s how you do it. Here’s what you need to do. Here’s the paperwork, read it, do all the stuff, this is the minimum you need to come in and participate. And here’s what we’re going to do along the way. You could be a part of the problem or the solution. Or you could sit back and watch somebody else do it, and then talk about them.’”
According to Brookings, Black households have considerably fewer emergency savings than white households. The average value of liquid assets among white households was $8,100 in 2019 compared to $1,500 for Black households. Furthermore, 72 percent of white households say they could get $3,000 from family or friends compared to 41 percent of Black households.
While Kendrick says the venture they are taking on is not easy, what keeps the five Black female co-founders of D.E.C. is the overarching sense of community as each of these women live and work in DeKalb County.
“Community is such a big part of making real estate whatever real estate you buy successful in the case you want to grow or to get tenants there,” Kendrick explained. “It makes no sense because this is our backyard. We have so much of an influence there.”