I have been beating the drum for economic independence since the Trayvon Martin protests and it seems as though the trend is starting to turn in my/our favor. We see this with the numerous investment clubs, small businesses and support for each other’s clubs and small businesses that is going on among African Americans on the internet and social media. I am sure this occurs off line but its just easier to spot across the nation with the help of social media. Shout out to us either way.
This is also seen with people like Jay Z (in his album 4:44), and now Diddy coming out to support the movement toward black ownership and economic independence. I wanted to write this post about some things to keep in mind as we shift toward a wealth mindset as a culture.
Wealth is a way of life
Wealth is not sporadic and short lived like most of the rallies and riots that follow police shootings. Wealth is a way of life that not only should exist now while under the stimulus of triggering headlines, but should be passed down to later generations. Ideas like frugality, investing, saving, real estate investing and business ownership need to become linchpins in the black culture not just a temporary fix until you have enough money to live like a rapper.
Wealth needs to become a way of life and in order to tap into this way of life you need to read and learn what the wealthy do. The wealthy aren’t out spending every dime they make. The wealthy don’t have the latest and greatest of everything. The wealthy aren’t dripping in designer. The longer we try to look wealthy the tighter the grip of poverty will become. So we have to shift our consumer habits and become producers and owners as a way of life, long term, as a culture, period.
I see a lot of people talking stocks and real estate and I want to make sure we aren’t just playing the game short term. For too long we have been caught up in the paycheck mentality and I fear that people are looking to the vehicles listed above as potential short term flips for a quick buck so they can pop bottles. Chill. Wealth is a way of life not another job and stocks aren’t lottery tickets to early retirement. This means that you might have to save a little longer. This means that you might need to invest in companies that aren’t penny stocks. It is less sexy and cool. But cool will keep you broke. A stable 10% return might not be a sexy as a ten bagger, but a 50% loss doesn’t look much better. 10% plus patience = freedom.
I read somewhere that when you get serious about wealth you don’t see money as a means to spend but as a means to make more money. Meaning that $10,000 isn’t that amount of money, instead it is a seed that will produce you $1,000 per year, passive. Similarly, $100,000 is $10,000 passively per year. $1,000,000 is $100,000 passively. This takes your wealth and turns it into lifestyle not short term “ballerhood”. Think long term, think lifestyle. Think generational.
There are no grey areas in group economics
The black community is losing in comparison to other groups in America. That is just a factual assertion . It doesn’t have to stay that way though. Under my watch it won’t. Because we are losing big, while others are thriving, we have to take hard stances that don’t allow for grey areas. This means that we can’t straddle the fence. When you straddle the fence you get caught in the barbed wire.
A few days ago I shared the Diddy tweet where he talks about the power of economic independence. A good friend commented that we should definitely pursue economic independence but we need to also pursue social justice. Guys, when you win in economics you don’t need social justice. It will take care of itself. You also can’t chase two birds. You will end up catching neither bird. The problem is that we have already gotten social justice multiple times over (see Civil Rights, see also Affirmative Action). You know what they say about insanity right? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, protests and social justice have been done over and over again. Are we insane or are we going to switch strategies?
Just like when Asians win in academics they don’t have to beg for seats at UCLA where THEY are the majority. Jews win in economics and the last thing they want is equality. They have a monopoly on finance and business. Equality is overrated when you are winning.
Based on our current status in America, we can’t afford to go half in. Half measures avail us nothing. We can’t exist in the land of grey where certain things are acceptable as long as “there is nothing wrong” with it. We have to enter into an area where we do things because there is something RIGHT with it not because it’s not wrong. To do that we can’t do anything half way. No grey. We are black or white, off or on. All the way or no way.
Unconditional support is mandatory
Every time I tell people to support black business they tell me about how expensive black business are compared to others cultures (Gucci is cheap now I guess). They tell me about customer service (like they don’t order Chinese food through bullet proof glass). They tell me that they are unprofessional (like the Korean nail lady didn’t have a full on conversation about you in a foreign language). They tell me that the quality isn’t great (McDonald’s is gourmet). Etc etc etc. Do you think that other cultures frequent your business when they get poor customer service or high prices from their own? NO. They suffer through it or find another business from their culture because the larger goal trumps one bad business experience.
How do you expect black business to tackle those problems if you don’t give them your business? They wont. They will ultimately be out of business because people were too short sighted and selfish to do things for someone other than themselves. You have to be willing to suffer through poor service and poor whatever for the greater good of your people. I tell my twitter followers all the time “go support a black business and get poor customer service, for the culture”. Or, “go pay a black business more than you would pay another non black business, for the culture”. Things like that would literally change the dynamic of our people. We are the reason why black businesses fail, not anyone else. The beauty in that is that we also can be the reason they succeed if we are willing to step to the plate.
When you work with and support black business you are giving yourself a hand up. When you take your money and pour it into other community’s you are chopping yourself down at the knees. The same people who protest oppression head over and fund it and then justify it with all the excuses listed in the paragraphs above. You help yourself out when you support your own because you might be helping that business employ students or hire ex cons. This means you don’t have to carry them, which means you don’t have to worry about getting robbed or whatever comes from not having an economy and jobs flowing. You also are investing back into the beautification of your community. You are getting job skills likely at a high level to your kids. Your dollar is about much more than just the good or service that you consume. Your dollar is liberation. Your dollar is the equality you so desperately want.
Support means dollars not likes and RTs
Most people might not realize this but your family can’t eat your RTs and likes. It might feel good psychologically to get them but at the end of the day you need to make a sale. Everyone knows that businesses need support but support CAN’T be solely likes and RTs. At a certain point you have to put your money up. The same money you blow fast for the gram.
None of us are broke. If you have a source of income you have a source of capital to fund your venture or someone elses. You might have to strategically budget this in but if you are serious about elevating your people it should be worth it. It pays off dividends in the long run.
You will get more value from your own than from outsiders
When you work with black business you get a different level of service and quality. For example, I recently started working with someone to edit my podcasts. The level of quality that he brings, and the extras that he adds to each episode indicates that he has a vested interest in making my podcast great because in turn it makes him look good.
My mom does taxes (she is a CPA) and she has a lot of clients that I have referred to her, many young professionals that I went to school with. One of her clients just bought a home and is doing great things. I believe that a lot of this is in part because of the mentorship from my mom to her through her taxes and tax planning as well as the guidance and maybe just the example my mom sets in working with my friend. They have similar stories but there are a lot of women who were placed in situations like my mom that wallowed it in where she chose to rise above. Being associated with someone like that can automatically raise your opinion of what is possible. As a result both lives are improved.
The last example is my experience in working with One United Bank. Every time I call them I talk to someone who sounds just like my sister or mom. I know that when I talk to them they can understand the issue because either they have been there or they know someone who has. There is no cultural disconnect there and it makes for a more pleasurable customer experience.
I believe that when we play as a team and operate as a group that there is no stopping us. I also believe that we all win. I think that all we needed was a reason bigger than ourselves to make the sacrifice and then make it permanent. While these police shootings and political events may be upsetting, I pray that they are just fuel to the fire. I hope we can now take all that anger and frustration and turn it into diamonds.