Many Black babies are born into families that experience economic disparities far before their conception. It is not the fault of these youth that they were born into poverty, and the parents cannot take full responsibility for their economic disadvantages. This is the reality of far too many Black families and its time we break the cycle.

First, we need to explore the systemic barriers that have kept Black people, as a collective, at the bottom of the social ladder since their emancipation from slavery. There has been legislation and structures created to immobilize Black people, to keep us poor and disadvantaged. Keeping us in this position creates the illusion that we deserve to be dehumanized further.

Second, it is important to not generalize the position of Black people in America because not all Black people experience poverty in the same way, and to some Black people this is simply not their reality. Either way we still must create space to discuss the circumstances of an overwhelmingly large amount of our community. They deserve better and Black people must stop looking down on those in our community who have not had the same opportunities and access as the rest of us.

Third, we must change our focus. We are no longer trying to prove to White America that we are oppressed. We are trying to build systems that serve our current needs and concerns. We are organizing and mobilizing to ask questions that our ancestors lacked the resources to challenge.

We must believe that wealth is possible and obtainable for our families. Now that we are certain in the ways that all the cards have been stacked against us, its time for a new game.

Principles of establishing wealth

When I was 13 years old my single mother looked to me and my two young Black brothers with a smile. “This is the last generation of welfare in our family”. It was a very simple and powerful statement. I knew that in the smile that stretched across her face hid all the tears and pain of trying to find a new way, of trying to provide a different life for her babies.

My mother is now on her way to being a first-time home-owner before she even stepped into her 40’s. She was never taught by her parents how to manage money, how to buy a home or finance a family. She had to learn and then practice. Trial and error so that she could ensure that whatever she taught her children they would be prepared to build something to last.

Developing generational wealth in the Black family is not about working multiple jobs and exhausting ourselves laboring for other people. The power lies in the principles and values that we hold when it comes to money. How is money managed in our home? What kind of conversations are we having about money with our children? What kind of relationship do our children have to money? It is also important to think about where we are currently and where were trying to build.

Breaking the cycle of generational poverty is based on our practice with money and our mindset around how we can use it as a tool for liberating ourselves and our babies.