Should Financial Independence Be Considered A Form Of Activism?

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Should middle-class people of color in America view the F.I.R.E. movement as a form of social activism?

That’s what I’m discussing on today’s Money Talk Monday.

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Michael 0:00

In what would be his last press conference as an NFL player, running back marshawn Lynch gave some great Money Advice to some younger NFL athletes. And in that press conference, he essentially told them to take care of their mental health and to take care of their money. Now, it's been documented that marshawn lived solely off his endorsement deals and never spent any of his NFL contract money. And in this presser, which I will link to in the show notes page, because I think it's just that powerful. So check the episode description for the show notes. marshawn says it's good when you can get over to the other side, speaking of retirement, and you can do whatever you want to do. And reaching that point is what we call being financially independent. And I believe given the state of America today, it's something that we all should be striving for, but it's paramount for every black middle class. American to be striving for and aiming for financial independence right now. Let's talk about it.

Michael 1:21

I want to start this episode by first explaining my absence last Monday. So the murders of a mod Aubrey Briana Taylor and George Floyd specifically really bothered me. And they got me a little differently then these types of senseless murders usually do. See, usually I see the news of yet another unarmed black American citizen, murdered by someone and I get hit with that float of emotion. Like there's anger and then there's the natural grief and then those two get mixed with a little bit of concern about money. own safety in my own life. But usually, I'm only really allowed to feel those emotions for like that night or that evening, because by the next morning, I have to place them aside so that I can go be my best self at work. And so the reason for this is because for the last few years, I've worked in an industry that's been dominated by white conservative males who view these human rights issues differently than I do. And I only call this out right now because when I would bring these issues and my feelings about them up, after being asked what was bothering me 100 times a day, I was the one to get labeled race, Bader or controversial and things like that. And that type of stigma can lead to me being passed over for promotions or anything else that could have affected my ability to earn an income from my family. So yes, these are human rights issues. But yes, they affect our finances. Like for instance, the time that I was racially profiled before a workout one morning. So if you've had this happen to you before, you know just how angry and frustrated and even fearful you can be for a while once that encounter is over. And so I get to work for this meeting, probably visibly shaken. And ultimately, I shared my experience with a white coworker who continuously asked me if I was okay throughout that morning. And so once I expressed my very real and raw feelings, I was then essentially told to get over it and just try to focus on my work, I was told that you know what these things happen, and there's always going to be bad apples. And so you can choose to let this linger inside of you or you can focus on what matters in the moment, which is your work and doing a great job here. And so you don't want to talk about a privileged and insensitive response from someone who just had never experienced what I have. And so because of that, These type of reactions to my trauma over the years, I've just learned how to bury these raw motions and just do my job at work. And so what happened is I essentially created this whole new persona for work. One that pretty much always seemed unbothered and just laser focus no matter what I was really feeling internally inside myself. And although it was sometimes a struggle, my work self usually pushed through and usually delivered. I mean, I've launched brand new products into expansion markets and built up seven figure revenue streams within a year of being hired with zero prior connections in that market. I have created an implemented entire programs for my clients that led to six and seven figure deals being closed on a more than monthly basis. I am an absolute beast at what I do. And I say that boldly and unapologetically. But last week, last week was the first week that I got to explain This type of unjust murder without having to go to work the next day. And so I didn't, I didn't work. I took the day to just sit with how I felt about George Floyd. how I felt about Briana Taylor and how I felt about Mr. Berry and so many others. And then I took another day.

Michael 5:26

And I took a few more after that. And now, during this time, I wasn't just sitting in isolation, feeling sorry for myself, right? I took time to really channel those emotions and collaborate with some other community leaders and really discuss and lay out a plan and some things that we can do to invoke change and how predominantly black and brown communities are being policed. I got to have some meaningful dialogue with people who really want to get it and want to be allies and I got to help them see the world through a new lens. And so in other words, I got to do whatever I felt was most important in my life at that moment. And I got to do so without worrying about whether or not I was going to be able to fully grow my career or anything like that, which is what I think marshawn Lynch was getting at in that interview. Now hear me out. I have been very modest about this. But the truth is, I don't have to go back to a traditional nine to five job anytime soon. And to be honest, I don't plan to we have liquid emergency savings that covers us for well over a year now. And my wife's income covers all of our essential expenses. And while this is the case, I'm also actively working on creating some new income streams for myself. So financially speaking, we are alright if I don't go back to work. But I want to be crystal clear about something before I go deeper into my point here. I am not saying that wealth solves Racism, people of color becoming wealthy will not eliminate white supremacy. Money does not solve police brutality. Hear me very clearly on that. A matar Berry, Brianna Taylor and George Floyd were not asked for their net worth before they were murdered. So again, that is not what I'm saying at all. But what I am saying is the results of our pursuit of financial independence does allow me the freedom to focus on what matters to me. And right now, that is creating a more equitable society. I can't look my grandkids in the eye and say, I didn't do anything. When they asked me about this time period, as they're studying it decades from now. I just cannot. I can't, I can't do it. And so a good friend of mine recently shared this story with me and he gave me permission to share it with you. So it reads. And I'm just going to read it for you. True story. I'm a first time division one college coach. I'm living my dream. Dream. Our head coach at the time would bring in speakers every month to inspire and motivate team. On this one particular day, we had a former coach speaking who previously served as the head coach at our university. I googled his name while he's talking and the first thing that came up with how his players boycotted his team for verbal abuse, and he was eventually fired. When I dug a little deeper and talked to some people, it was said that he used racial slurs towards the players. My thought at the time was our coach has to know who this guy is. So why would he invite him to speak to a team of black players? I was afraid to speak out because of what it could have possibly done in my career. The same racism that exists in society is parallel with the racism in college coaching. They don't always kill you physically. Sometimes they kill your career.

Michael 8:58

That's heavy and As I said, I've had those same feelings of fear and anxiety when it was my turn to speak up. But what happens when you get to the financial position? I mean today, the position of having what we call f you money, and thus having options. See, this type of money allows you to choose where you want to spend your time and energy. Like I knew our network was solid, but it wasn't until I was laid off that I actually sat down and realized just how much power and control I currently have over my life. So if I decided to go back to corporate America, I'm no longer going to be worried about what an HR department could do to me for using my voice. You don't like what I stand for. Okay, cool. That's what my money is for. Because see, now if I choose to be employed by you, you employ all of me, and that includes my passion for speaking out against injustice, including discrimination racism whites, supremacy and everything else. See, being in such a great place financially allows me to not work because Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac are forcing me to, I get to choose who I work with now. And so yeah, while I'm here, you're going to get the unapologetically outspoken version of me the same me that my friends and my family gets the same visa you guys are hearing right now, waking up and burying trauma after each of these incidents while dealing with micro aggression after micro aggression at work is not healthy, it's not sustainable. And speaking of that, being in such a good financial position has allowed me to not just focus on what I can do, but how I can heal after watching all this murder porn that we've been shown recently. I can prioritize my mental health by seeing a therapist if I need one because I'm not working 50 hours a week and traveling all over the country. I'm not having to pretend like I'm okay to my co workers on my clients right now. So the my anger and grief aren't used against me when it's Promotion time. And I'll be honest, recording this episode right now is exhausting, like mentally exhausting. So I'll probably shut my phone off and take a nap afterwards. See, because my wife and I have reached this level of financial freedom. Every single way that I can take care of me in the midst of dealing with this trauma is on the table, every single one. And because I'm not sharing my time and energy with an employer, I'm able to do more good. So, for example, this company I used to work for didn't want me speaking about racial inequality at work and on social media. The same company had a problem when my black female coworker wore her natural hairstyle, her natural hairstyle to work. And that same company this week posted a Black Lives Matter photo on social media. Now, if I were still an employee there, I would walk straight into HR and ask what they plan to do to create a more inclusive work environment. For those black lives that suddenly matter that are employed by you, which is something that I didn't do when I fear being let go or passed up for promotion or future promotion, or was worried about how I would pay my bills, and and all those sorts of things. Those type of actions is what's making life better and easier for the next black employee for my daughter for our sons, our grandchildren, our neighbors. So yes, financial independence and economic empowerment can and should be considered a form of social justice. See, financial independence can lead you to accept a lower paying job that focuses on creating a more equitable society. Financial Independence can lead you to not have to work and instead you can dedicate your life to social justice. Financial Independence allows you to donate to bail fund set up for peaceful protesters. Financial Independence affords you the time and the mental energy to meet with community leaders to strategize and mobilize to affect change. Financial Independence allows you to donate to political Candidates whose proposals align with your values. Financial Independence also gives you the time freedom to then follow up and hold those elected officials accountable for those campaign promises. See, financial independence affords me a black man in America, the ability to be hopeful and optimistic, even during times like this. And it's not because I have extreme faith in an oppressive system to change on its own. But because I now have extreme faith in my ability to change you, guys, I'm tired, but the work has to be done. And I'll tell you the load feels a lot lighter now that I'm not carrying the full responsibilities that come with a traveling job and 4050 hour work weeks. And so if this episode helped you to see things in a different way, I only ask that you do one thing. only ask that you share it with someone else. And I wholeheartedly believe this message of financial independence needs to become a mainstream conversation. And it needs to become a part of middle class black Americans conversations as well. And I am committed to doing my part in that. Also, if you want to talk about this episode, you can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at winning to wealth. You can also join my private Facebook community and we can talk there that can be found at winning to wealth comm slash teammates. But hey, thanks for listening. I know this is not the typical money talk Monday. But at the same time, hopefully you see how race and all these social and justices affect our finances. And so until we talk again, keep racking up those wins one at a time. Take care

Resources Mentioned

Marshawn Lynch Last Press Conference

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can financial independence and economic empowerment be a form of social justice in the US?

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