A candid conversation about race in America

Minneapolis, Denver, NYC, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Louisville, San Jose, Des Moines, Detroit. The list goes on. These are just some of the cities that have experienced protests in the past week.

George Floyd’s murder (and murder-porn video) was one of the catalysts for these protests. But let’s be clear: Sooner or later, this was going to happen. Things are not okay in America. America’s continuing issue with race, inequality, and the routine acceptance of the mistreatment of black people and other people of color came to a head in the last couple of days.

Then, we had Amy Cooper in New York City calling the police on Christian Cooper unecessarily during a normal incident that plays out all the time – annoying people with their dogs off leash. That one call could have resulted in Christian Cooper’s death.

In this episode of Michelle is Money Hungry, I’m going to get candid about race in America, money and opportunity, and what’s next.

This is a very difficult show for me to do because I have so many thoughts racing through my mind. The goal of this episode is to give a better perspective of what people are angry about and to leave with ideas of how we collective can do better. And, honestly, I have to say something about this. And just so you know, this is not the first time that I’ve talked about race and wealth in America on my website and podcast. (But it’s the first time J.D. has shared my work here at Get Rich Slowly.)

J.D.’s note: I’m not a podcast listener, but I listened to this episode. I liked it enough to ask Michelle if I could re-run everything here at GRS. I’m grateful that she agreed. The text here is, essentially, Michelle’s outline so it might seem rough at times. I encourage you — if you have the time — to listen to the podcast instead. If you’d rather read/listen at Michelle’s site, here’s the original.

This is Winning?

We are not “winning” in the US and haven’t been for many years. The fact of the matter is America, at its core, is dysfunctional and its dysfunction is currently on display.

America is an incredibly wealthy country.

It’s considered a land of great opportunity and compared to other countries this is the case. We just had a private company launch US based astronauts into space via SpaceX run by an immigrant But, with all of that wealth we also have a huge problem with wealth distribution. Schools are unequal. There’s a lack of access to affordable health care. There’s a constant threat of danger due to gun-related violence. Access to good paying jobs is decreasing as business move manufacturing off-shore/

Americans also focus on the individual vs. the collective and that affects everything related to creating policies for citizens. Then, add racism to the mix and you get a dangerous mix.

I’d like to paraphrase a couple of things that I’ve heard several times during the past week about the George Floyd protests.

  • “Why are people looting? They’re tearing up businesses and their own town. Why can’t they protest without damaging property? Why can’t the protestors do it differently?”
  • “George Floyd is just 1 man, I get that this was horrible but to riot and burn down your town for one person makes no sense”

Protest as a verb: To express an objection to what someone has said or done (via the online dictionary)

I would like to point out three really important things to consider.

First, Colin Kaepernick quietly protested by kneeling for years to protest black people getting shot by the police. He lost his livelihood, was ridiculed, and was blacklisted from a career that he could still have right now. He didn’t shout, he didn’t break anything, he just took the knee. And, he was told that he was protesting the wrong way. Which ironically people making the comment “why riot?” should be catching themselves on. I tend wonder did you also say that he was protesting the wrong way too.

Second, it’s 2020. There’s video FOR EVERYTHING. While there are protestors looting, there are also groups of white people who seem organized tearing up buildings during protests. Leading other participants to ask them what the hell are they doing. In fact, that even happened here in Denver where a George Floyd demonstrator called out an Antifa asshole who was defacing a statue in front of the State Capital.

Third, why were people more concerned about the treatment of the DOG in the Amy Cooper video vs. the fact that Christian Cooper, US Citizen and a human being, could have been killed due to her actions. In case you’re like who’s Amy? She’s the chick who called the police on Christian Cooper, the black birder in NYC.

Fourth, if the public at large values dogs and buildings more than my black life that’s something we need to reflect on.

It’s NOT Just about George Floyd

The protests aren’t just about the murder of George Floyd. The murder was the catalyst for something that has been coming for awhile. People just weren’t paying attention. The protests are about the following:

  • The ongoing acceptance of black people being murdered by the police (and other people) ON CAMERA and getting away with it is bullshit. And, we’re not going to take this anymore.
  • Black people accounted for 31% of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13% of the US population.
  • Lack of opportunity in a land of plenty.
  • Deepening poverty.
  • The almost daily rhetoric and actions taken by the current administration to systematically eliminate people’s rights.

Basically, people are fed up with everything.

The Coronavirus

Added to this anger, is the anger associated with the Coronavirus response. It has not escaped my attention that the moment the talking points were that black/brown/and old people were the individuals most likely to die from the virus the conversation about it changed.

It felt like people were willing to sacrifice me and mine so that they could get hair cuts. That’s just shitty. I work for myself from home. But many people of color work in roles that require constant interaction with people, increasing the likelihood of being exposed to the Coronavirus. But, those are also the jobs that people have lost because sporting events/restaurants/and retail won’t rebound for years.

Forty million people have lost their jobs and over 100,000 have lost their lives. As I watched the protests several questions came to mind about the people who were protesting.

  • Who knew someone who had suffered at the hands of the police?
  • Who had lost a job because of the virus and they had nothing else to lose?
  • Who knew someone who had died because of the virus or gotten sick with lifelong physical and financial reprecussions?
  • Who had experienced being roadblocked professionally because of the color of their skin?
  • Who in the crowd has health insurance? Definitely not the 40 million people who have lost their jobs

I wasn’t just looking at the screen and seeing people that I didn’t know and couldn’t feel empathy for. I got it. I 100% get their anger because I share and I want to share a glimpse into my experience being black in America. I will also share some other people’s experiences as well.

Check Your Privilege

Every year, I have at least a minimum of two incidents of white women clutching their purses when I walk by. Even when I have a giant purse on my shoulder. I’ve had people ignore me when I’m talking to them – blatantly. I’ve been roadblocked for promotions and told by the directors of the program that I worked for that they didn’t feel comfortable with me representing the program abroad. I’ve been followed in grocery and clothing stores. I’ve been referenced as the angry black woman I’ve been called the n-word.

I have a file with all details related to my ability to vote and I am obsessive about this. Why? Because a key part of the act was invalidated in 2013, because jurisdictions are trying to levy poll taxes in order to be eligible to vote (looking at you Florida) and because of how fearful people are to allow fair and equal access to vote and how hard they work to surpress your vote. Which should tell those of you who don’t vote often how important your right to vote is.

I would like to get married and have two little boys who look like their dad. But, I’m afraid of having little boys that other people feel free to: harass and kill.

Depending on the situation I’m uncomfortable when the police are around and hate it when they drive near me when I’m driving. The last thing I want to deal with is any interaction with the police.

I was sitting on a coffee shop patio with headphones on having a conversation with my mastermind group two weeks ago. There were other people on the patio talking as well. An older white woman reprimanded me for talking too loud. Don’t worry, I shut it down. But my friends Sandy Smith and Elle Martinez saw the whole thing. We were on a Zoom call.

I worry about my black male relatives, male friends, and their male kids.

It is a normal thing for people of color to have a conversation with their children telling them that the police likely not protect them and more likely hurt or kill them because they are a threat.

My experience is nothing compared to what my other friends and family members have dealt with. Why is it that my full equality as a United State’s citizen is perceived as a threat to your equality? It makes no sense.

America will never be as great a country as it could be as long as the following remains true:

  • The lack of willingness to have candid and painful conversations about race and inequality. Our unwillingness to have these conversations keep us from truly knowing one another.
  • The continuing growth in the divide between the haves and have nots
  • Lack of access to quality health care
  • Lack of access to fair and equal ways to vote.
  • We accept unequal treatment of citizens by people in positions of authority
  • Those who benefit from a position of power don’t stand up for what’s right.

Another person’s success doesn’t endanger you. It benefits you. I live in a nice neighborhood. During the Coronavirus outbreak (which is still happening) I would walk around the neighborhood. No one looked stressed. I would see people exercising, riding their bikes, and spending time with their kids.

Most of the people in my neighborhood work white collar jobs and — let’s be candid — are white. They were having a very different experience of the Coronavirus situation than other people that I know.

They were still getting paid to work or were able to work from home. They had some resources available to them that insured that they would be able to take care of their personal expenses. Maybe not indefinitely, but for awhile. I heard or saw conversations about purchasing properties now because now would be a great time to do so. People had access to the internet and could continue to educate their kids via online learning, take fitness classes, and order food and clothing instead of going into grocery stores.

I include myself in these observations. I have these privileges too. As I improve my life, I can’t lose sight of how important it is to help other people along the way.
There is a reason why I am so passionate about sharing personal finance content and how people can empower themselves making money selling what they already know.What is my success if other people are suffering?

What We Can Do

There is a lot that we can do to better the situation.

  • When your friends of color tell you that they feel like something is racist or are sharing an experience that was painful or scary for them-listen. Don’t tell them how they should feel or how they should have reacted. It’s insulting. Just listen. In fact regardless of the issue active listening is an important skill to develop.
  • Become self-aware, we all have our prejudiced or even racist thoughts regardless of color. Becoming self-aware of these biases helps us to manage them before they adversely affect someone else.
  • People of color, some of your White friends might be struggling with how to have these conversations and genuinely want to be a part of the solution. (J.D., for instance.) Give them some grace as they make mistakes during the process. But, speak up so they don’t make them again. I’ve had some incredibly candid conversations with my white friends throughout the course of our friendships. I’ve had to because I was unwilling to let things slide by.

And remember, actions matter more than words — and so does your inaction.

What you do when I’m not in the room when people are making jokes and comments says a lot about YOU. When people make shitty comments online-people that you know, what will you do? Will you say nothing and be complicit because it’s hard to stand up for people who aren’t in the room?

Basically, will you take the easy way out or do the heavy lifting which is hard. Which means you may lose friends and family.

Be patient with one another. This is a lifetime of conversations. Connect people with opportunities that will grow their income and livelihoods. Become a personal and professional mentor. If you’re a cop, get rid of the racists who’ve embedded themselves into the force and embrace community policing which works. Write testimonials (or better record video testimonials) for a product/good/or service that a POC friend has. That POC friend could do the same.

What Has Encouraged Me

Here’s what has given me encouragement and hope recently:

  • The line of white women who used their privilege and stood in front of black protestors so that they wouldn’t be harmed by the police.
  • The police who marched with protestors. This happened in a number of cities.
  • The black men who protected a police officer who got separated from his crew.
  • The Denver protester who was filmed calling out a person who was defacing the statue in front of the Colorado State Capital.
  • The often painful conversations and revelations that have been shared. We can’t keep these things to ourselves.
  • The actions that people have taken. Speaking up, shutting things down, and being all in.
  • The love that has been sent my way from my friends of all colors who have checked on me and that I’ve checked on during this time. I’ve chosen well.

Figure out the answer to the following question “How does someone else doing well affect me?” There are a lot of people expending a lot of energy keeping people down. So you have to wonder why they fear people being equal or doing well.

Thank you for listening to the show, and I hope that you and yours are safe and well during these difficult times.

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There are 13 comments to "A candid conversation about race in America".

  1. M says 02 June 2020 at 13:29

    I just wanted to send thanks to you both.

    Thanks to Michelle for sharing her thoughts and how she has been impacted personally. This is not the first time I have heard this sentiment, but it breaks my heart each time: “I would like to get married and have two little boys who look like their dad. But, I’m afraid of having little boys that other people feel free to: harass and kill.”

    And thank you J.D. for elevating other voices (especially today).

  2. Marla says 02 June 2020 at 14:59

    Thank you Michelle for sharing your story. I am your ally and stand with you.

    J.D. my friend, I commend you for using your platform to share Michelle’s important words.

    Black lives matter.

  3. Robert Oberhofer says 02 June 2020 at 16:38

    Hi J.D, Michelle…

    Excellent article and I am very moved by what you are saying.

    Similar to you I cannot understand or comprehend the forces that want to foster inequality, separate by race/gender, promote privilege.

    I fit squarely into the white privilege bucket. Born in Germany, benefiting from good (& free!) education, I immigrated to Silicon Valley and had plenty of opportunities denied to many.

    While I love America I truly believe that there is a cancer eroding the virtues and values. I am not eloquent enough to describe it well, though it sits somewhere between a belief that one’s personal progression can only be achieved via the cost of others.

    The ideal of the ‘common good’ has been lost in America (if it was ever there). It’s each and everyone for himself. One group/community against another (which is where privilege comes in).

    Many items that seem simple and logical (from my background) are hot-button items in the US:

    • Why not universal healthcare? Healthcare should not depend on a job. Stupid concept. It reduces workforce mobility and flexibility (a key Republican concept!)
    • Why not universal (and affordable) education? A well-working democracy AND economy depends on a well educated populous and workforce. If only a small percentage of people get a good education then America’s competitiveness suffers.
    • Why not a prison system that focuses on rehabilitation and re-integration vs. mass incarceration and indentured servitude?
    • Where is this separation of church and state when every politician quotes the bible and asks for God to bless America (who’s God again?)
    • Voting should be simple, equally accessible, automatically available to everyone. Why having to register?

    …and that does not even include the question of racial discrimination, though it is interwoven in all of the above in some way.

    USA wants to be the land of opportunity, unfortunately, the opportunity is very selective. If you want to be upwardly-mobile your chance of economic success is double in Canada vs. USA. That’s a shame.

    I do not believe that there is much benefit to being rich and privileged if you have to live in a bunker with high walls and security systems. I have seen this too often in 3’rd world countries – not a sight befitting the United States, though we are drifting that way. To lead a ‘rich’ life I see the cultural exchange among each other as a key ingredient – one all too often missing.

    America is really good. We want to be great (I am not sure where the ‘again’ is coming from). Though to be truly great (and possible the greatest ever!) I see it as necessary that the idea of the ‘common good’ needs to be fully embraced across all public institutions in forms that do not distinguish between race, gender, economic background etc.

    The scarcity mindset that optimizes one’s economic advantage through the misery of others is a flawed concept, yet permeates the political and cultural mindset. It’s perhaps the cancer that I am trying to express above.

    America is the land of plenty and abundance. By raising the opportunity for everyone, everyone and everything raises with it. That’s the future that I am looking forward to. It will be great!

    Robert

  4. Amanda says 03 June 2020 at 06:15

    Very interesting and though provoking article.

    One of the things I started advocating for is changing section 1983 of our US code. Under that section the phrase “qualified immunity” was introduced. That basically shields government officials (and cops) from being sued or taken to jail. This code is also being used to protect cops who use excessive or deadly force. Unfortunately it “has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victums their constitutional rights” as summarized in a 2020 Reuters report.

    Here is an article that explains qualified immunity and why it needs to be repealed much more eloquently than I can. It also gets into the details of why cases of excessive or deadly force are very rarely prosecuted. https://theappeal.org/qualified-immunity-explained/

    This code needs to be repealed and then it should be easier to hold bad cops accountable for their actions.

  5. Amy says 03 June 2020 at 07:15

    THANK YOU for talking about this! Thank you for using your platform to address this and using it to amplify the voices of those who live this far more than say, me. I really appreciate you being willing to delve into the ‘soft side’ (in my engineering industry managerial skills/dealing with people skills are often called “soft skills” ) of finances. Thanks for not just posting articles on how to buy more rental houses during this year of one disaster and tragedy after another….it may be true that you can grab houses for a deal, but it rather misses the point of what going on across the country right now. Thanks for not being completely tone deaf. ( I will be very curious to see how many of your regular commenters chime in on this topic. I’ve noticed some commentors often brush the issues aside if the conversation veers in the feminist, social justice, change and reform direction…but maybe that’s just my biased speaking?)

    I hope that those of us who have the privilege to employ all the leverages and opportunities we have will start to fight for reform of the system we are using, so that more people can also succeed. After all, the more financially independent of the system you are, the less you have to lose by demanding it improve. The more you can afford to do press for change. Why can’t our capitalist system provide better and far more equitable opportunities for all kinds of people to earn a living wage, such that they could actually thrive? Why can’t we have sustainable growth of companies, and those same companies actually respect the working force that makes their success possible? Etc, etc, etc. The burden of change may be greater on those of us who benefit from, can leverage, and who are using the current system for our gain to demand better opportunities for black, hispanic, minorities, disabled…anyone who is currently disadvantaged. We can do so much better.

    Anyway, thanks again for featuring Michelle. Michelle thank you for speaking out. I’m reading, I’m listening. Thank you for teaching me how to do better.

  6. Frankie says 03 June 2020 at 08:05

    Michelle, Thank you from the bottom of my white heart. I will never understand why people are more worried about business destruction than the life of a black man. People have that backwards, I believe. I do want to add a few examples to the discussion though. When I worked a summer in Hawaii as a sales clerk, I can’t count the number of times I was told “haole go home” which means white person get yourself off this land. It hurt. I taught over 30 years in inner city schools, by choice and which I loved (and edited textbooks and wrote curriculum and wrote state test questions, etc. on the side). Everyone deserves a good education! I have a habit on my walks, country or city, to say hi to everyone I meet- I don’t care who- we are all humans and need to be recognized. In the last week, people won’t say hi back especially black men. I assume the think am a threat and I get that and I’m sad. I don’t pretend to know what you and others are going though but I think we all need to extend a hand and not assume the worst about each other. I hope that will come in time.

  7. Adelanteyeducate says 04 June 2020 at 09:34

    Loooooong time reader, first time commenter. I’ve long been angry and disheartened by the (predominantly white) personal finance community’s refusal to discuss politics, a quite frankly tone-deaf and utterly privileged stance. Given the hostility of FinCon to people of color broadly, and women more specifically, will you continue to support and speak at FinCon?

    • J.D. says 04 June 2020 at 11:44

      ¡Hola! I am only going to address your question here, not your premises. Will I continue to support and speak at Fincon? Yes.

      Fincon serves a valuable role in the personal finance community. Obviously, there are problems. Some of these problems are severe. (Although, to be clear, some of the current accusations are false and/or as-yet unsubstantiated.) But these problems won’t be solved by me avoiding the conference. In fact, by attending and participating and leading, I’m much more likely to bring about positive change than by steering clear.

      I live in very liberal Portland, Oregon. Many of my friends hate how people in say, Alabama, think and vote and act. They’re frustrated that people still believe and say and do some of the things that they believe and say and do in Alabama.

      So, what do my friends do? From the comfort of their bubble here in Portland, they post on Facebook that folks in Alabama should think and vote and act like we do here in Oregon. This accomplishes precisely nothing.

      If my friends truly wanted to see Alabama change, they could do any number of things — but these things require effort, and they require being uncomfortable. First, they could read and educate themselves about why folks in Alabama think and vote and act the way they do. They’d probably still completely disagree the Alabamans but they’d at least have a frame of reference for understanding the choices Alabamans make. As it is, they have no frame of reference.

      Better yet, they could move to Alabama. They could live there. They could engage with the folks they disagree with every day in a meaningful way. They could lead by example. They could vote in Alabama. They could become a part of the culture. But there’s no way my friends will do that. It’s easier to sit here in Portland and shout that everyone should think and vote and act like we do. There’s no risk in it. But there’s also zero power in it either.

      (One of my college roommates has actually done precisely this, by the way: He lives in Alabama with his boyfriend. It makes me smile every time I think of that. I love that he’s taken this step.)

      Likewise, I could abandon Fincon based on the actions of the organizer. (And just to be clear, at this point the only complaints I’ve heard are related to the organizer, not the event itself. There may be complaints about the event, but I haven’t heard them.) But what purpose would this serve? How would this make anything better? If every liberal-minded person leaves Fincon, then Fincon becomes worse, right? It becomes even more what people are complaining about. It breaks it further instead of fixing it.

      So, it seems to me that my best course of action is to continue attending Fincon, and to actively work to make it a better place.

      There’s another problem implied in this question: The idea that everybody must think the same, that given the same information we all must reach the same conclusions.

      For some, given the information that’s come out this week, abandoning the conference is the correct step. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only right answer. To argue that would be a gross oversimplification. (Honestly, this is one of the biggest issues with our country in 2020: People cling passionately to the belief that there’s only one right answer to any given problem — their answer. This just isn’t true. Life is complicated. There are usually multiple solutions to any given situation.)

      The Fincon organizer and I have very different political and spiritual beliefs. Despite that, we’ve been able to maintain a frienship. (Note that this does not mean I approve of some of the things he’s done. In fact, I very much disapprove. And in at least one instance, he asked me for advice and then did the complete opposite of what I suggested.) Likewise, I don’t necessarily agree with everything that some of my more liberal friends believe and say and do, but I value the friendships anyhow.

      It sickens me that in our current society, we silo ourselves. We only surround ourselves with friends who think and vote and act the same way we do. This kind of groupthink is ridiculous. I want friends who think differently than I do. Otherwise, how am I to grow? How will my friends grow? If my friends and I all think the same thing, we become stagnant.

      And yes, that means I’m even willing to remain friends with somebody who makes a series of poor choices. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. And I’m doing it now.

      Finally, I need to say that for the past decade, the Fincon folks have been my family. Fincon itself has been the highlight of my year. It’s an opportunity to spend a week (sometimes more!) hanging out with friends from all walks of life. In fact, most of my current friends are Fincon friends.

      If I were to abandon Fincon, I would miss these friends. Sure, we connect in real life more and more these days. And yes, technology makes it possible to connect online very easily. But that’s not the same as spending a week together in each other’s company.

      Now, it’s very true that I have a vast, vast hole in my own life when it comes to, specifically, black folks. I was raised in rural Oregon. I was raised around racists. I still live in a lily-white community. As I said in the Fincon FB group recently, I can go weeks or months without seeing a single black person. (For real!) I offer this info up not as an excuse but as an explanation.

      And while I’ve made deliberate efforts in my life (and on this blog) to promote gender equality, I’ve almost totally failed when it comes to education and promotion of racial equality. I’ve read plenty of novels about black history, but I’m woefully uneducated about the actual black experience in the United States. (When Kim and I lived in Savannah for six months, we hired a local African-American tour guide to give us a tour of black history in the city. That’s the deepest I’ve ever gone.)

      To remedy this, I’ve resolved to “do the work”. I have several books on my Kindle. All of my reading recently has been not about personal finance but about the black experience in the United States. I’ve been having conversations with black colleagues. I’m doing a lot of listening. Kim and I — for real! — talked about moving back to Savannah permanently. (Ultimately, we rejected the idea for a variety of reasons.)

      More importantly, as it relates to Fincon, I realize I’ve been 100% remiss in building and maintaining relationships with black colleagues. This is an unforgivable oversight, and I know it.

      When I first realized this last week, I rationalized it to myself by saying, “Well, I’m always completely and totally available at Fincon. I spend most of my time sitting in the lobby, and anyone who wants can come talk to me can come talk to me.” I’ve met a lot of great people this way.

      But isn’t that a lame excuse? And doesn’t that sound arrogant? I wait for people to come to me. It pains me to even read that sentence. Yet, that’s what I’ve done. It’s not actually out of arrogance — it’s more out of timidity and anxiety than anything — but that’s irrelevant. It feels and seems arrogant. And it’s made it so that I haven’t connected with my black colleagues like I should. So, I’ve made a personal resolution to be more proactive about connecting with people. I’ll be active instead of passive.

      So, there you go. That’s a very long answer, I know, and probably more info than you wanted. But I’ve been thinking about this stuff all week, and it just came spilling out. I apologize.

      I suspect you won’t agree with (or approve of) my decision, but I want you to know it’s a considered one. It’s not a choice I made lightly. And there’s still the possibility that I could change my mind. But right now? Yes, I will support and speak at Fincon.

      • [email protected] says 04 June 2020 at 12:53

        Thank you for the in-depth response, and I appreciate the time you took to clarify your beliefs, choices, and stances. And you’re right that we have a difference of opinion about which actions to take, likely situated in the different positions we occupy in the personal finance space. I think that there are problems with the white-washing, male-centric space of FinCon that extend beyond the overt actions of the founder. I personally find the covert racism and misogyny (of the type that silences discussions about the politics and policy of money that inequitably affect women and racially minoritized peoples with the “but that’s political, let’s keep the focus on finance” line) more insidious and more dangerous because it really perpetuates colorblindness, the myth of meritocracy and silences the lived experiences of lots of people. I am less invested in an organization that does not seem to serve me well, and therefore less invested in seeing it change from within. I think it’s important at this moment to send a message that racial inequities matter, and that they are present in virtually all aspects of personal finance. To me, the type of incrementalist change advocated in your response is not what my heart needs or wants from the PF community. While this response says to me is that you are making an effort to grow and learn, it all suggests to me that this will happen within a space that will continue to prioritize white comfort. Personally, I will decline to participate (as a general rule, I believe POC and women when they tell me about their lived experiences) and it disappoints me to see that you will continue to lend your considerable platform and voice to that space. Your response has helped me understand stand a little more about the ideological premises that undergird Get Rich Slowly and makes it easier for me to decide which media to consume and what sits right with me. Thank you for taking the time to engage with me.

      • Adelanteyeducate says 04 June 2020 at 18:26

        I want to share one more thing that has been weighing on my mind from your response. You wrote, “There may be complaints about the event, but I haven’t heard them.” I have two thoughts about this: 1). I am making a complaint about this event to you right now on your blog. I know I am not a friend or acquaintance, just an internet commenter, but doesn’t this count? and 2). When we assess the inclusivity of our practices from our own inner circle, we may miss practices that alienate folks who feel too uncomfortable or unwelcome to join in the first place. I share this because in many conversations about personal finance with friends who are POC, they have expressed mistrust and discomfort with the PF community because many of its loudest, most vaunted voices are White folks who refuse to consider race and racism. It’s not a very inclusive space, and it’s something I feel as a woman as well. Considering just the voices of those who feel comfortable enough to join you in the first place doesn’t capture it all. 

        • J.D. says 04 June 2020 at 20:15

          Quick reply because I need to unwind before bed.

          1. Yes, you count. But you’re not making a specific complaint. You’re making generalized complaints. And while your generalized complaints may be completely valid, it’s not possible to reply to them because I have no idea what they’re referring to. And you’re anonymous. If one of my Fincon friends came to me and said, “Look, J.D., this is what I experience at Fincon and it sucks,” that would carry much more weight. Does that make sense?
          2. I agree with your point regarding being blind to inclusivity. Most of us are guilty of it. I’m guilty of it. I can do better, and I want do better. I think one reason that GRS has historically had more women readers than men is that I *do* strive for gender equality here. But, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve done a poor job factoring in race. I had begun to make tiny tiny steps before the current situation erupted. Now I’m ready to take bigger steps. (I just don’t know what they are yet haha.)

          I also wanted to address your point about incremental change from your earlier comment. I think the only real lasting change we can make in ourselves (and in others) *is* incremental. It doesn’t work to try to force somebody to make wholesale changes to their life, to their worldview. You can’t beat stuff into them with a hammer. When you try, you only make things worse. You make them defensive. You make them closed off to what you want them to hear.

          One reasons that college can be so transformative for people — and I’m one of these people — is that little by little over the course of four years, you’re exposed to a host of new ideas that challenge your world view. These new ideas don’t change you much at first. By the end of your first semester, you’re pretty much the same person as you were at the start of the year. But then you go home for the summer, and you realize you’ve grown. After your sophomore year, you’re in a very different place than when you graduated high school. And by the time you graduate from university, you’ve been transformed.

          But if your 22-year-old self tried to go pound the same information and ideas and viewpoints into the brain of your 18-year-old self, young you would rebel. This is why it pains me to see so many people shouting their beliefs at others, no matter whether it’s people on the left or the right doing the shouting. This shouting isn’t going to change anyone. Telling people they’re wrong isn’t going to change them. That’s not how it works. If you want to change people, you lead through example. You tell your story. You share the stories of others. But you don’t flood people with this stuff. You do it little by little. And little by little, people begin to think differently.

          • Treo says 05 June 2020 at 03:11

            That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? Someone I used to work with always made this frog analogy, and while cruel, is applicable… The way you boil a frog is by increasing the temperature slowly, rather than abruptly.

            Whenever I’ve tried to do things rapidly and abruptly, it either immediately backfired on me, or it only lasted for a short period of time before the great marshmallow of life went back to its original shape (yes, another analogy, but also one of merit; weight is a good example of that, too… lose it too quickly and abruptly, odds are you’ll gain it right back and then some).

            People need to see the benefit of change in order for it to make sense to them. We all hated the “because I said so” parenting tactic that I am sure most of us had received at least a few times as children, and this is no different. Unless people see, understand, and internalize the reason for change, the exact opposite will happen and the extremes will widen further.

  8. Chris says 14 June 2020 at 16:22

    Late to the discussion but I also wanted to say thank you for addressing this. Widening inequality, especially among people of color, is most definitely a personal finance matter. So it’s my opinion that this is a great forum for such discussions.

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