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Let’s begin by asking, why do minority communities lack the financial training and understanding that many other communities seem to possess? Where is the disconnect? Over my lifetime, I have seen many minority people grow up in poverty and remained there.
They pass along the ins and outs of the welfare systems to their children and grandchildren as though it was an inheritance. What I have not witnessed is the passing on of financial planning and lessons and demonstrations on becoming financially independent.
I once heard a young black football player who was recently drafted into the NFL say, “Now that I have all this money, I don’t know what to do with it. I wish I was given a financial literacy class, instead, I was given condoms and told which girls to stay away from.” That statement touched my soul. I sat and wondered if young white athletes had the same query and given the same condoms and talk.
The conception that the black community does not place an emphasis on financial literacy and therefore end up with debt that they are unable to manage is perpetuated through music, film and social media. The idea that buying the latest designer brands is a way to boost social status is a very concerning philosophy.
Children, teenagers and young adults would go out of their way to “get money” to prove their social worth. Popular Hip Hop artists also play a significant role in this behavior. Artists have a substantial effect on direction social trends lean and with lyrics glorifying the lifestyle of name brands, money, and living a lavish life, their listeners and followers become inspired to carry out that same lifestyle.
What if they were to preach about wealth management and financial literacy, would the trend of living about one’s means be curved? The Hip Hop artist is not compelled to preach about uplifting ideals or being a positive role model. They are compelled to deliver music that sells by any means necessary, therefore making it difficult to facilitate financial literacy to the financial illiterate.
Where do we start? Financial literacy begins at home with teaching young children the value of a dollar and how to facilitate a positive spending habit. The issue in this comes where parents are not financially savvy because they were not taught. Because they were not taught, they have no reasonable knowledge to pass on to their children. They can only pass along what they know and the habits they have formed.
What about schooling? In many public-school systems across the country, financial literacy is not taught and is not a priority to be considered as part of the educational curricula. Many educators believe that financial literacy is a personal matter that should be taught at home. Like tying your shoe or riding a bike, financial responsibility is a concept that must be learned and put into practice at an early age to allow children to become independent doers.
Grass root organizations have been popping up in minority communities to bridge the gap and foster the learning curve missed by many young minorities. These organizations have an uphill journey to dissipate the stigma of finance in the minority communities. Adding financial literacy classes to after school programs is also an effort some organizations have implemented to tourniquet the desire of many squander their money of unreasonably priced items to promote their social status.
Schooling is a helpful solution to this issue; however, until educational bodies across the country decide to act, organizations must continue to facilitate the conversation and lead classes to teach parents and have those parents pass along the lessons to their children. This will bring a tradition and eventually build a generation of children in minority communities who are financially literate.