Most people of color don’t even know what this means. I got the idea for this week’s blog from Jay Z’s album 4:44.  I was so excited when I heard it because he talked about a lot of things I grew up learning.  And I thought, finally, a mainstream artist was saying the things the black community needed to hear.  I thought for sure we were on the road to recovery.  Then I started hearing what other rappers had to say.  I read negative comments on Instagram from every day people and I became disappointed. He was talking about the use of the “N’ word, legacies, how credit can help our communities, etc. and all Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion had to say was “I don’t have Tidal anyway” and that he would bootleg it until it came out on iTunes.  DISAPPOINTING.  Jay-Z said “you run this hard just to stay in place”.  Our community spends BILLIONS of dollars a year on items OUTSIDE of our communities.  Walk through any black and brown neighborhood and count the CHINESE restaurants, pizza shops and Texas Burgers you can find and I bet you will need more than two hands (I live in NYC btw).

Sometimes it feels like we don’t even want nice things. HUSTLING AND HAVING NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IN THE END IS A WASTE OF TIME.  IF YOUR KIDS GROW UP AND STILL HAVE TO HUSTLE, YOU HAVE WASTED YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.  We hustle so hard we forget what we are hustling for. We hustle for that fire we feel when we get some zeros in our account but to work for your zeros shouldn’t be #goals. Hustling to have the zeros work for you should be the goal.  That sounds so cliche, but the fact of the matter is that our people are literally DYIN for dollars. High blood pressure and heart attacks mixed with our bad diets is a recipe for disaster and death.  We work so hard that by the time we get home, it’s Popeyes for dinner. Surely if they wanted to take us out, they would put in the Big Mac or some Popeyes chicken!  But we are taking ourselves out cuz I’m sure the chicken and beef they tell us is in that meat probably isn’t meat at all. This piece is about leaving a legacy, but I’m going to share something for a moment of y’all don’t mind.

We don’t like to get organic food because we think it is too expensive and we refuse to shop at Whole Foods because of the high prices, but let me share this. Whole Foods Market has a brand called “365” that is cheaper than what you pay at many supermarkets. This brand also offers organic products, still cheaper than what you pay at many local supermarkets.  In addition to that, for those of us that have EBT cards, I can tell you from doing a part time gig there, you can use your EBT card to purchase ANY food (except hot food, of course)…. lastly, if you are going to purchase meat, you might as well get the best kind. We buy all this crap at Western Beef or whatever your equivalent is depending on where you live and don’t realize that the healthier you eat the less food you need to consume…. you eat a lot because of the chemicals they put in bad food (makes you crave more of it), not cuz you are actually hungry!  (ALSO REMEMBER THEY GAVE THE SLAVES THE WORST PARTS OF THE MEAT, WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE PUTTING IN OUR SUPERMARKETS!?)

Now let’s get back to the legacy.

I said earlier that if you hustle all your life and your child still has to hustle, you have wasted your entire life…. But it what we are taught to do.  We are taught to get an education, get a “good job with benefits” and retire at 65.  JUST SO Y’ALL KNOW, THAT IS MODERN DAY SHARECROPPING (after slavery ended, slaves worked on the land they were enslaved on until the end of the crop season, but never really get paid cuz the former slave master had to “take money out your pay for room, board, food, etc”).  By the time you reach 65, you have collected so much debt, pay the minimum on all credit cards and still have a mortgage.  Now you have to keep working until you can live comfortably, which will most likely stress you out and lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks….. Ah, what a vicious cycle!  On sharecropping, I remember seeing the scene in Roots when slavery “ended”.  Everyone was jumping around excited about being free, but they are “free in America”, a place most of them were born but were not from, where they own nothing and barely own their freedom at this point.  Fast forward 152 years (Yup, we have only been free 152 years) AND WE STILL OWN NOTHING AND BARELY OWN OUR FREEDOM.

Why do we own nothing?  How do we physically have the same hours in the day as every other culture and we own NOTHING?  How do we dominate sports, entertainment, hip hop and so many other multi billion dollar industries but have nothing but a few dollars to show for it? MENTALITY.  Why do we hate people like Jay Z, Beyonce, and Oprah who have made it instead of taking their ideas and following in their foot steps? Crabs in a Barrel, but that ain’t none of my business tho.

Ok, so for arguments sake, lets say there are 2000 black people in your neighborhood and each person gets $7,000 in February for the tax season.  Your community is circulating $14,000,000.00 dollars.  For arguments sake, lets say each person only gets $3,000.  That is still $6 million dollars!  Where the hell is our money going?  Why do we not own houses or other properties?  Why do we have to BEG other people to come into our neighborhoods to clean it?

When we go into family restaurants or stores of people of other cultures, it is almost guaranteed that you will find children around or involved.  Why do we think this is?  They are grooming their children to take over, yet we barely want to take our children to work for Take Your Child To Work Day!  The motto of many of our families was that the children were to be “seen and not heard”, so how do our children figure out how the world works? We are taught and teach our children to not explore and not ask questions and to simply do as they are told.  While no child should be disrespectful, it is important for the child to be able to cultivate their knowledge of how the world works.  Have conversations with your child so when they are ready to go out in the world, they have the confidence to compete with people who have been learning to be successful all their lives.

What are some things we can do immediately to begin building up our community to start legacies?  Below, I listed four things that can be done to give our people and start and build up the confidence of the black community.  Please comment below or on my Instagram @msSavvySasha if you have any other ideas!

Buy Black. Start supporting each other.  Italian neighborhoods have primarily Italian restaurants.  China Town has authentic Chinese food.  Indian neighborhoods have Indian restaurants.  Black neighborhoods have Chinese restaurants, pizza shops and “chicken spots”.  Only place I can find soul food is Harlem, NY (which is presently undergoing gentrification, but that is a topic for another day!)  If you cannot find a black owned business for something you need in your life, CREATE ONE.

Stop maxing out your credit cards.  Many people max out their credit cards during the year and come tax refund time, they use that money to back their credit cards and other debt they have accumulated during the year or years.  Try to make larger payments during the year to cards you do have so when large amounts of money come in, you can save a larger amount as opposed to having to pay it all back.

Stop buying luxury items with your tax money.  Louis will be just fine without you and Gucci will be “gucci”.  It is fascinating how much we are willing to spend proving to each other that we have coins, yet no one is willing to invest that money to make more money in the future.  Nas said in him song Nas Album Done that we are spending our money to put their kids through college and when you think about it, if we didn’t spend all that money outside our community, our kids wouldn’t need to spend so much money paying back their student loans!

Have tax refund checks go into a stand-alone savings not connected to your checking account.  Preferably an online account because it normally takes two business days for the money to be transferred and by the time it gets to your account, you may not need it anymore.  It gives you more time realize why you shouldn’t be spending the money and will have a better chance of transferring it back as opposed to if it connected to your checking account where you can transfer and spend it right away while standing on the line at Macy’s!

A legacy is much bigger than the four recommendations I just laid out, but at this point, we ALL need to start somewhere.  We have too much money circulating our community to feel and be considered so poor.  TO BE CONSIDERED POOR brings me to next weeks blog Thinking Poor:  The Poor Person’s Mentality and Why it is Ruining Our Financial Future.

-Sasha Madeline