An inspiring Oscar production
Movement Maker Tribe, at the end of the post, I have questions for you about generational wealth. I want to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to weigh in in the comments section or by sending me an email:
Y’all, this year’s Oscars were one of the best I can remember. Why? Girls and boys watching who are African-American, Asian, Hispanic, indigenous, saw people who looked like them. I hope they thought to themselves, that could be me one day. The makers of Into the Spiderverse said it best: “When we hear that somebody’s kid was watching the movie and turned to them and said, ‘He looks like me,’ or ‘They speak Spanish like us,’ we feel like we already won.” Amen. And then there was that performance by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Electrifying.
And the surprise Best Picture Oscar for Green Book, a movie controversial because of its glossy, oversimplified portrayal of the relationship between Dr. Donald Shirley, a black man, and his white driver and bodyguard. I was struck by something Mahershala Ali said in a Vanity Fair interview about the chance to play someone that represents the diversity of experience within black America. “Maybe not a large percentage,” said Ali, “but there’s been a percentage of wealth in America that’s been black for a very long time, or people who are middle class – people who have had all different sorts of educational experience. Some people can look at them as not being worthy of their blackness…”
That brings me to what I want to talk about today: generational wealth in the African-American community. We DO need to see a lot more diversity in representations of the experience of black Americans. Kids – and adults for that matter – need to see that on screen and think that could be me, I can build that financial security, too.
I grew up middle class. My mom was a principal and my dad worked for Exxon inside a fancy building across the street from the Superdome. We went on family vacations, and from violin to private art lessons or dance, my parents made sure I could seize every opportunity that came my way. It wasn’t until I moved to Columbia, South Carolina after college, though, that I saw young African-American entrepreneurs. And I believe entrepreneurship and a willingness to take risks are what really allow for building generational wealth. I remember a group of young men who bought property on Main Street in Columbia, which at the time wasn’t popular. It was a big risk, but Main Street did bounce back and the property is worth so much today. They even went on to own a hotel near the city’s convention center.
So I think that more diverse representation of wealth is part of the solution, as is getting away from conservative views of risk. Now, I know it’s a lot more complicated than that and that there’s no one fix-all solution. Part of me having a side hustle is a chance to step out boldly in this space and be entrepreneurial. But I’m still a learner, both in entrepreneurship and in diving deep into the topic of generational wealth.
Empowering youth through their pockets
I talked to my friend Sabrina Lamb who’s doing amazing work as Founder and Chief Executive Officer of World of Money, a 14 year old nonprofit whose mission is to empower youth with a sound financial education. To date, they’ve provided over 4,000 youth and their parents with 120 immersive classroom hours of financial and entrepreneurial education. World of Money also provides a youth financial education mobile app (videos taught by youth for youth) which is being used throughout the U.S. and globally. The goal: steadily break a generational cycle and change the way youth and their parents understand their money. So education is certainly another piece of the generational wealth disparity puzzle.
“The biggest obstacle to building generational wealth in the black community is lack of financial education, consumer mindsets, and predatory financial vultures which target underserved communities,” says Sabrina. But she also says something that echoes Mahershala Ali’s comments to Vanity Fair about representation. Sabrina adds: “Members of the black community are often characterized as poor, downtrodden, underprivileged and disadvantaged, but in my humble opinion, no community that annually spends over $1.5 trillion dollars could ever, in reality, be poor. One’s self-worth determines how we manage our money; which for some is their only tool to prove our value – not realizing that they are perfect as they are. People won’t save if they don’t believe that their lives are worth saving.”
#MovementMaker Tribe, I want to hear from you. What do you think are the greatest obstacles to building generational wealth for African-Americans? If you work in this space, how are you and your organization making a difference? Sabrina also said that “until all non-profits have as one of their pillars economic justice and financial education, vulnerable communities will continue to experience a lack of access to credit and societal inequities.” If you don’t work directly in this space, how are you and your organization making economic justice a priority? Can’t wait for you to weigh in do it below or let me know your thoughts on Facebook. And you MUST watch this video that Sabrina created.
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