I don’t even know where to start. So much has gone on over the past few days that I’ve become physically and emotionally exhausted. Still, this has to be said. As someone who runs a personal finance blog, you may wonder why I’m talking about this here.
I planned for this week to be very different and had a YouTube video scheduled to go up about creative ways to cut your spending. A week or two ago, I could never have imagined what my family would wake up to see on the news. Nor could I imagine protests and seeing communities destroyed and looted during riots.
I don’t have the privilege to stay silent or neutral on the issues that are affecting the black community in this country – and to be honest, I don’t want to.
Racism is America is an issue that affects all of us – and it will keep affecting us until something is done about it. It affects people, communities, the economy, etc. and people are tired of it. Racism is divisive and it doesn’t always appear on the surface so it’s not always easily identifiable.
What happened to George Floyd breaks my heart, and he has unfortunately been added to a long list of black victims of unlawful police brutality. This is not a political issue at its core in my opinion so I see no need to add politics in.
I do see that protests and riots have brought this topic to most of our neighborhoods and doorsteps which has fostered a lot of conversation about what’s right, what’s wrong, what people should do, and what they shouldn’t do.
Let Me Stand Firm in My Truth
Black people are tired. We’re tired of seeing our sons, fathers, uncles, and brothers getting killed and having to fear for their lives. I myself have held my breath and experienced anxiety when being pulled over by an officer in my own area. Not because I was afraid of getting a ticket, but because I was afraid of something going terribly wrong. I say a prayer under my breath that God would keep me safe and that this officer would be law-abiding and not racist.
This is not a reality that I’d wish on anyone yet it’s something my community has had to endure for as long as I remember. No innocent person should have to get pulled over by the police and contemplate the thought that their life may be ending soon. Yet, this is a reality that brings me to tears.
If anyone remembers Sandra Bland’s story from 2015, it really devastated me. Sandra was my age when she died and she was arrested after being pulled over during a traffic stop.
If you’re upset and frustrated about what’s going on in your community right now, I’m there with you. But I also understand that people are going through a lot of trauma right now. While I don’t agree with looting, I’m sure many can see now that just as one or two bad protestors can spoil the entire bunch, one or two bad cops can do the same to the police force in our communities.
Racism and injustice is nothing new in our communities, but people are tired, weary, and feel misunderstood and out of options.
I had a long conversation with my dad the other day and he told me many stories about how blacks would not get served at some Denny’s restaurants in the 1990s (when we lived in Indiana) and had to file a class-action lawsuit.
He told me how a white woman wouldn’t let him into her home when he worked for a residential blinds installation company. She wanted a white installer to come instead. He shared how he tried to apply for a business loan before I was born and despite qualifying for it, was not granted one. He also told me how a cashier would try not to touch his black hand when returning his change at a store – when she clearly didn’t mind touching the hand of other patrons that were before him in line.
These are stories from just the past 30 years about racism in America. My parents both grew up in inner-city Chicago and my dad grew up in the projects. I feel like my parents did their best to try to shield my siblings and I from the hatred in the world, but we still had to grow up knowing the reality that our skin was black and this was a problem for some people.
To Top It Off
There is no denying that black men (and women) are often targeted by police. There are certain areas of this country that I can’t drive through freely. Even as an adult, I’m warned by my family about which areas are likely racist and ones that I wouldn’t be welcome in.
I can’t just move anywhere in the U.S. I like living in a diverse community but also don’t have the option or privilege to move to certain areas of the country due to racism.
A Brief History Lesson – How This Ties Into the Socio-Economic Oppression of Blacks in the U.S.
I feel like many schools talk about the same topics during the month of February – if they discuss anything at all. For example, this past year, my son’s class did a project where they had to pretend that they either a soldier from the North or the South during the Civil War. Completely offensive and not necessary in my opinion.
Maybe you know some of what I’m going to outline below or maybe you don’t. Regardless, it’s necessary to gain the full context of what’s going on in this country right now and how it continues to affect us all.
I’ve seen people make horrific comments on social media claiming that blacks don’t have insurance on their businesses and are ruthlessly tearing up their own neighborhoods. These comments don’t make me angry. Instead, they reveal that there’s a level of ignorance or simply a lack of regard for the true historical facts. Let’s not make up stories based on stereotypes and fiction movies. Instead, let’s look at the core facts when it comes to black wealth and oppression.
- Blacks were not able to legally build wealth until 1865 – because they were slaves and treated as property, not people.
- Between 1882 and 1968, at least 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States – 3,446 of these lynchings were black and conducted as an effort to oppress and control black people.
- In 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street went up in flames after a black man was accused of raping a white woman. Some whites could not wait on justice so they took to burning 35 city blocks – 300 people died and 800 were injured. While many prosperous black businesses were destroyed, homes were also looted and burned as well.
- Up to the 1950s and 1960s, blacks were not educated nearly as well as whites were. Schools were segregated. Black schools had fewer materials and were ran for only half the time that white schools were in session. Mind you, this was AFTER President Truman ordered integration in the military in 1948. Meaning at the time, blacks were able to fight for a country that they had little to no rights in – a country that their children could not even be properly educated in.
- The Jim Crow laws continued segregation in the South until around 1954. These laws detailed what jobs black people could take and how much they were paid. On top of that, they restricted blacks in many other ways including where they could live and which neighborhoods they could go to.
- If you want to learn more about what it took to desegregate schools in the South, watch the movie Ruby Bridges – I think it’s on Disney Plus. Watch it with your kids too and look this woman up. She is only 65 years old today.
- Even today, when it comes to building wealth as a black person, we are sadly at an extreme disadvantage
- Today in the U.S. black women are expected to be paid anywhere from $0.47 to $0.67 for ever $1 paid to a white, non-Hispanic man.
- The median net worth of a black family in 2016 was $17,100 while a median net worth for a white family was around $171,000
- You may also be surprised to know that it costs more to get a mortgage for the same house if you’re black or Latino.
It’s important to understand that racism is not just a cop-out or a tool for blacks to pull out of their pocket whenever they see fit. It’s a system of laws, policies, and circumstances we must deal with day in and day out. It’s a burden a lot of us have silently carried as we try to build a normal life in this country and ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps’ as so many people claim blacks should do.
We’ve come a long way, in a short amount of time. However, one thing we can’t ignore as a unified nation is the unlawful murder of innocent black citizens OR those who have committed petty crimes that do not deserve death on the streets of their communities.
I also can’t ignore the racial wealth disparities and how they affect my community.
So where do we go from here? A lot of conversation needs to continue and we all do need to come together. We need to restore basic human rights across the board for all races and place a higher regard on human life regardless of skin color.
We also need to empathize with those who may be going through something we may never understand, and start to hold each other accountable.
What You May Want to Stop Doing
You can do and respond however you wish. However, some people have openly and privately asked how they can help make things better so I have highlighted some things people may want to stop doing at this time. Keep in mind that I say all of this with love – but there are a lot of things I’m seeing people do that aren’t actually helping right now.
- Stop posting those same imagines of MLK talking about his peaceful protesting IF you haven’t protested yourself or you aren’t willing to die for this cause. Martin Luther King Jr. was hated for his work, his house was bombed, and he ultimately died in the hope that what’s still happening today would not continue. About 2 years ago, I had the privilege of hearing MLK’s sister-in-law speak live and there is so much more to the story and a lot of people didn’t grow to respect or understand MLK’s mission until he was murdered for it.
- Stop saying All Lives Matter in opposition of Black Lives Matter if you truly want to help. Of course all lives matter. But the current issue is that black lives are not being valued as equally as all lives in this country. Would you run to a breast cancer fundraiser shouting ‘lung cancer matters too!’? I believe that everyone’s life matters but this stance really makes no sense in light of what is going on.
- Driving around the country trying to create chaos in other cities. Is anyone I know really doing this? I sure hope not. Protesting in your own states and communities should be the focus if you want to evoke change. It starts at home first.
- Spreading misinformation online. Be sure to check your sources and your own level of mental health before spewing false information and hate online. It’s extremely damaging and distasteful.
- Making this a left or right thing. We are one nation and people’s political views are going to differ. The Right Wing and Leftists will fight about any and everything but there should be no disagreement that people shouldn’t be denied basic human rights.
- Pretending like nothing is happening. I know this is hard on everyone, but it’s not going to go away. The issue of racism has gone on long enough and the negative effects are spreading to communities all over. I know some people don’t know what to say or are afraid of reacting in a way that would offend someone. One thing you can always do is get behind someone who is speaking up and making sense to you.
What You Can Start Doing
- Check your privilege. We all have privilege to a certain degree – racial privilege is only one form of privilege but it’s crucial to understand if you want to better understand how this nation can improve. Here’s a checklist that you may find helpful but this is such a complex concept that I know it will take time and research to fully grasp … My friend Lindsay also shared this graphic recently and I found it extremely eye-opening as you may want to challenge some of your existing beliefs.
- Check in on your black friends, colleagues and neighbors. Many of us are not okay. All of us are going through something right now, but some of your black friends and neighbors may have stories, experiences, and pain that stems back to childhood, young adult, and workplace experiences along with pain and struggles that their ancestors have endured. I appreciate the friends who have reached out to my husband and I to check on us. Yesterday I had a meeting with my friend Kayla and the first thing she did was ask me how I was doing/feeling. I appreciate the fact that she didn’t gloss over current events and try to pretend like nothing was wrong to avoid any potential awkwardness.
- Educate yourself and your kids. Kids notice our actions as well as our words. While no one can know the private conversations you’re having at home and lessons your kids are learning behind closed doors, it will shape and impact who they become and how they behave out in the world. What you know will shape and impact what you go out into the world and do. I’m am working diligently with my son to understand racism and respect all people. So watch a video, read a book, and get information from quality resources.
- Speak up if you feel comfortable. Let’s use our social platforms and right to protest to use our voice to speak out against injustice. Call out racism when you see it and hold people accountable. Staying silent or simply saying you don’t agree with racism will not do much to evoke change.
- Find an organization to support. Put your dollars and time toward a cause that will help resolve these issues in our country. You can find a lot of resources in this anti-racism guide, BUT you can also get into contact with lawmakers in your city and hold police precincts accountable for properly training officers and reforming their systems to flesh out prejudice officers.
I hope this has been helpful to you and as the title of the post states, this has to be said. In an effort to be completely honest and transparent as I’ve always been, it’s important to let people know where I’m coming from and where I stand.
I know it’s hard to empathize with others sometimes especially in a society where self-promotion is all we often see and as human beings, we are naturally wired to be prioritize ourselves and our own experiences.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to agree entirely with what I’ve written here. Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments or to reach out to me directly with any questions, comments, feedback, or just want to vent. I’m here for you.
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