This week marks the centenary of the fire in the “Black Wall Street” neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, then the richest African-American community in all of the United States.
White mobs slaughtered black residents in one of the worst race riots in U.S. history, with dozens killed, black-owned businesses destroyed and 35 square blocks of the Greenwood neighborhood razed.
A century later, many black Americans still face significant disparities in education, income, and wealth compared to their white peers.
Today, a tech-based financial literacy startup, New Black Wall Street LLC, wants to provide 21st century platforms for black economic empowerment.
The organization is unique in that it has a strong focus on cryptocurrency, helping people ride the wild wave of wealth creation through the sale of Bitcoin and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
And in honor of those who perished in Tulsa in 1921, the company promoted a “100 percent” initiative in May encouraging black investors to invest $ 100 in Bitcoin as “the perfect platform for our people to create. wealth where it may never be destroyed again. ”.
New Black Wall Street is also planning to donate the proceeds from its NFT sales to parents of low-income children of color so they can create their own $ 100 crypto wallets.
The company’s weekly virtual seminars cover the gamut from credit, taxes and real estate to money management.
But New Black Wall Street CEO Joshua Richardson is very excited to teach people how to profit from crypto tokens – with his company planning to launch his own coin and a new NFT marketplace named Wakanomy, a benchmark. in Wakanda, the fictitious African. nation in the movie Black Panther.
“It has to be our own Wakanda,” Richardson told Al Jazeera, describing it as “a different way to build our economy.” He also believes that financial literacy is “the key to our future”, arguing that it is “an even more powerful weapon than protest”.
Invest in Wakanomy
New Black Wall Street’s goal is to increase the number of minorities with Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) credit scores of 700 or higher by 50% – which is considered “good” by lenders – and , over the next two decades, to increase the median of black households. wealth to $ 165,000. In 2019, the median wealth of black households was $ 24,100, compared to $ 188,200 for white families, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The company also wants to level the playing field and improve generational wealth by educating two million children in financial literacy by 2030 and getting 100 million minorities to invest in cryptocurrency by the year. next.
During the New Black Wall Street educational sessions held online, many students ask if they should mine resources from stocks into crypto. The teachers – who are seasoned investors – expose them to a variety of coins and the process of buying tokens from some of the major exchanges.
Richardson cautions against pump and dump systems, urging people to be “smart” and do their own research.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he added of the crypto industry. “It’s about you and what you see of value – and what you experience – and what you’re willing to pay for it. “
“You are your own bank,” Richardson said. “It’s a huge responsibility at the end of the day. If you lose your [crypto] keys, you lose your wealth.
“Prepare students for success”
Tiffany Grant is a Financial Wellness Facilitator who teaches under the business name Money Talk With Tiff. His approach is more conventional, favoring accessibility and relativity.
“The best way to teach financial literacy to the next generation of black and minority youth is to have the teacher someone they can relate to,” Grant told Al Jazeera.
She explained that children should be included in daily financial conversations in order to “remove the stigma of talking about money”.
Grant, who teaches people “ages four to 104,” also said financial literacy should be the norm in the classroom, as should math, language arts and social studies.
“When kids see someone like them taking the time to make financial education fun and interesting, they’re more likely to tune in,” Grant added. “It’s time we prepared students for success outside of the classroom. “
African Americans still face huge hurdles in gaining their financial power, which was one of the key themes raised by U.S. lawmakers during a House Financial Services Committee hearing Thursday with directors. generals of the six biggest banks on Wall Street.
Under pressure from investors to conduct racial equity audits, CEOs explained how they seek to narrow the wealth gap – by opening more locations in low and moderate income areas and partnering with community development financial institutions.
Representative David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, drew attention to the high rate of unbanked or underbanked black households, adding that 70% of African Americans live in neighborhoods without a bank branch.
“Risk of significant loss”
Nonprofits have stepped in where for-profit corporations are unable – or unwilling – to move the needle.
Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), says many of the largest school districts serving black and brown students are “financial education deserts.”
His organization’s recent report on financial education found that only one in five high school students in the United States are guaranteed to take a semester-long personal finance course.
“In communities serving primarily black and brown students, that number is one in 14,” he told Al Jazeera. “It is, purely and simply, a question of social justice. This education is denied to this student population.
Ranzetta remains optimistic about the specialists he hires to instill a culture of personal finance.
NGPF created the Financial Equity and Empowerment Grants Program, which awarded a first round of grants to grantees at public schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Their program, used by 46,000 teachers reaching over two million students, runs on the Google Classroom platform.
The program focuses on topics like taxes, insurance, and college payment. And Ranzetta is adamant that teachers critically answer students’ questions about crypto and blockchain technology.
“As recent volatility has reminded us, [crypto] is a speculative investment and investors should be aware that there is a risk of a material loss, ”said Ranzetta.
To this end, its teachers incorporate elements of behavioral finance, including lessons on herding and fear of failing instincts, which can drive asset prices to levels far beyond their intrinsic value. Another lesson explains how social media is an accelerator with investing in meme stocks.
Each of these organizations has taken its own approach to improving financial literacy. But for Richardson of New Black Wall Street, the crypto debate is mostly a settled issue, even though major currencies like Bitcoin recently fell more than 40% from a mid-April high.
CEO compares the soon to be released New Black Wall Street black-themed cryptocurrency to how “hip-hop tells the story of who we are as a culture, but absorbed into the world.” .
His company is hosting an upcoming NFT live painting event featuring black artists and an African-American NFT drop artifact on June 19 (June 19), a public holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.
“We don’t want our employees to be left behind,” added Richardson. “I know my people tend to be late for the party, and we don’t want that to happen. The running of the bulls does not last forever.