Voice: Eric Nelson

Eric Nelson is vice president of the Aurora NAACP and vice president of the NAACP state conference of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana, and runs his own insurance and financial services company.

“There are many reasons for the widening gaps, including bad government policies, lack of individual responsibility and exploitation by people in business.”

I was actually shocked that the Census figures show the gaps between minorities and whites are wider now than before the civil rights movement. You would think we as a nation would have overcome a lot of things since then. It’s like, “Wow, we’re spinning our wheels going in reverse.”

There are many reasons for the widening gaps, including bad government policies, lack of individual responsibility and exploitation by people in business. Economic and political policies make the wealthy even wealthier. The poor need to be taught sound financial principles – including how to save and invest their money – and how to apply that to their daily lives.

When I grew up, these things weren’t taught in school, even how to manage a checkbook. We need to initiate (financial education) in the schools from grade level on up. It’s not taught to the minority class at a young age. The wealthy duplicate themselves. It’s taught to their kids. In the minority class, if you don’t have it, how can you teach it? If you’ve never been taught … you’re stuck.

I expect the gaps to become even wider. Poverty is an unending cycle. It won’t change until government practices change how politicians vote on particular bills, how they overlook people of low-income. It all boils down to influence and whose agenda we are trying to get through here.

Individual responsibility is also key to changing the cycle. What are you doing as a citizen? Are you getting out here helping the poor? Are you initiating programs? Who is trying to extend a hand? In order to change we need to get a village mentality. Without it, there is no way the lower class is ever going to rise, let alone get out of the situation.

I’m a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity which was recognized recently by President Obama for its fatherhood initiative. We take these young men from various schools and institutions and provide mentorship. We follow up with them, make sure they’re on track with their grades. If they need help, we provide guidance.

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