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I think generational wealth is a key to liberating people of color from systemic oppression, but it’s not all about having a fat bank account

Summary List Placement For many people of color, creating generational wealth will take more than a good investment or high-paying job. We need to focus on our social and inner health to really break free from systemic oppression. That includes expanding social networks, learning about ways to grow and protect our money,...

Anna N'Jie-Konte

Summary List Placement

  • For many people of color, creating generational wealth will take more than a good investment or high-paying job.
  • We need to focus on our social and inner health to really break free from systemic oppression.
  • That includes expanding social networks, learning about ways to grow and protect our money, and letting go of mindsets that don’t serve us. 
  • This article is part of “Money That Lasts,” an ongoing series about generational wealth from Personal Finance Insider.

Generational wealth is the new hot buzzword in the financial influencer community. For years, BIPOC communities have suffered systemic racism, institutional disenfranchisement, and being shut out of attaining the “American Dream.”

Discussions of building generational wealth are a way for those with a platform to call those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder to give up despair, feelings that “it will always be this way,” and refocus their energy on shifting the trajectory of their families or communities. It is a concise rallying cry to shift the intentionally exclusionary dynamics of our society. 

I firmly believe in the concepts of intentional spending, group economics, economic liberation, and building wealth as keys for the re-enfranchisement of BIPOC communities. However, we shortchange ourselves when we fail to consider generational wealth in an expansive way.

When we solely focus on the size of our investment portfolio or how many investment properties we’ve amassed, we fail to take into account what it will take to leverage this monetary wealth and really create transformative change in our communities. I hope this article will give you some food for thought on how to more effectively build monetary, social, and inner wealth all at once. 

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Become fluent in the language of money

“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” —George Monbiot

BIPOC individuals are told so much about “working hard” — but while necessary, it doesn’t always lead to prosperity. “Working smart,” and being fluent in financial market trends, are an underemphasized asset.

Money is made in times of uncertainty, by those who are paying attention and equipped to appropriately capitalize on an opportunity. We may not all have the capacity to amass substantial wealth for subsequent generations for a variety of reasons. However, the one thing we all have the capacity to do is educate ourselves, not only on how to build wealth, but also on protecting it and how the financial system works. 

 

There are entire conversations, strategies, and leading indicators that those with financial wealth and connections closely monitor to ensure they are protecting and building wealth. By understanding what they are, and how to recognize and capitalize on them, you can ensure that you at the very least possess a skill set that can be passed down generations.

If you would like some incredible examples of just how transformative this vision can be, please read “Black Fortunes” by Shomari Wills. I can guarantee you will finish that with a renewed appreciation of your ancestors and clarity on what steps you could take now to further educate yourself and forever change the trajectory of your family.

Build a healthy social network, personally and professionally

You see these individual straws in the broom? Each one of you is like one of those when standing alone. You’re ineffective and can’t accomplish much. When you stick together, you are so much more powerful.”  —My great-aunt Isatou Codou-Begaye N’Jie

Community and family connections are almost universally emphasized among BIPOC communities from my experience. I spent my entire childhood surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and cousins. I was truly raised by a village and saw how important it was to have an entire support system to navigate life’s ups and downs. It is something I endeavor to maintain for my own children. My sincerest hope is they always know they have an entire group of people who love them unconditionally and will be there for them, no matter what they may need. 

This group of family is the foundation of emotional and relational success, but we need to expand this social network to ensure that our children are supported personally, as well as professionally and entrepreneurially. 

Members of the financial services industry are increasingly focused on breaking the “old boys’ network” of hiring, business funding, etc. While I recognize that those individuals in institutional positions of power need to do more to diversify their hiring practices, those of us excluded from these institutions need to endeavor to surround ourselves with a new generation of power brokers from our own communities.

There is strength in numbers, and by refocusing our energy on ensuring we have a strong professional network of colleagues and friends to our children, we can at least give them a leg up towards achieving their wildest dreams. 

Let go of the mindsets and behaviors that no longer serve you

As I pursue this quest of setting my children and their children up for success, I continually engage in deep reflection and mindset work. There are so many things we accept as normal, absorb as part of our identity, and continue to perpetuate in our families and communities. They are often tendencies that our ancestors developed as a coping mechanism, but have no place in this new paradigm we are trying to build. 

 

I knew that an addiction to anger, a scarcity mindset, and unhealthy physical habits were just a few of the things I needed to confront head on if I was going to transform into a well-rounded person and pass on healthy habits and mindsets to my daughters. I saw the negative effects they had on me and my loved ones, and set about the deep work to heal generational trauma and free myself emotionally. I’d invite you to reflect on this in your own lineage and take action to decide exactly what you want to pass on to the new generation.

My call to you is to take the beautiful things our ancestors gave us — joy, resilience, persistence, respect for our elders, resourcefulness, etc. — and leave that which no longer serves us.

After all, if we are going to go through the trouble of building wealth, educating ourselves on the “system” and how it works, constructing our own new social networks, and smashing the institutional racism that disenfranchised us, we should pass it along to a new generation that is intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually equipped to take it to the next level.

Anna N’Jie-Konte is a passionate believer in the empowerment of women and minorities in America. She is the founder of Dare to Dream Financial Planning, a fee-only, virtual financial planning firm.

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