#BlackLivesMatter: Why a Hard Look at Generational Wealth Is the Answer
On May 26, a series of nationwide riots kicked off, protesting the vile, violent, senseless murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota. In a move long overdue, corporate America finally took notice, voicing their support. And now, there are a number of companies pledging billions to support black founders.
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Yes, awareness is long overdue. Yes, it’s time for change. And no, violence isn’t the answer. And yes, racism is real AF.
As an extended child of apartheid, I grew up in a small country town in Denmark, as one of 10 black people. Racism is deeply embedded into my experience. But at its core, racism is a classist construct—a construct itself rooted in economic inequality. This is why my “why” is to help 100,000 people of color become millionaires by 2030—to do our part to make a better world for the next generation.
America’s Racial Wealth Gap
In America, right now, there’s a group of people (that I happen to belong to) that’s been dealt the worst hand in history. This is known as the American/racial wealth gap, which is basically a collection of grim stats:
- Millennials of all colors have an average net worth of $8,000 (!)
- Black women with a college degree have 6% of the net worth of white women who never even attended school
- At the current rate, collective black wealth will drop to $0 by 2053
The no. 1 driver behind this is absence of home/real estate ownership. It’s also not an accident that countries with universal health care have the lowest crime rates. It’s not an accident that countries with free education have the lowest rates of corruption. It’s not an accident that the group that spends the most money holds the least assets. (More on that later.)
Here’s why this matters to me…
I’m an entrepreneur and professional investor; I essentially build businesses and make money for a living. In 2014, I arrived in New York City, estranged from family, with no SSN or bank account and only $79 in a PayPal account. I had less than a homeless person, really.
Fast forward to today—we have a booming $57 million real estate portfolio, including the first black-owned high rise in Jersey City and a $10 million AI-enabled complex in Philly. And understand this: There’s nothing special about me. I’m telling you. It’s seventh-grade math.
The riots. The protests. These are a culmination of generational frustration with a system that doesn’t treat its citizens fairly. People are tired. And when you’re pushed, eventually you push back. It’s human nature.
But this isn’t a micro issue that can just be addressed with one day of common solidarity or corporate boilerplates. As cathartic as it might seem, violence begets violence, which only perpetuates a hate-filled climate. That does little else but preserve the status quo. Next thing you know, “both sides are to blame,” justifying the racist behavior that led to revolt in the first place. (With thousands of arrests.)
I believe there’s a better, healthier way to change it. It’s not an overnight solution. This is a generational mission.
You Have More Power Than You Think
“OK, these are the rules to the game. This is the hand I’ve been dealt. Now how do I play it?”
Ironically, Black Americans alone sit on $1.3 trillion of spending power—a number that’s growing every year. Yet, this wealth gap keeps widening. That is not a coincidence.
Again, wealth is a function of a set of rules and seventh-grade math. If you know the rules, you can play the game. And guess what? People of color are sitting on all the aces. A slight 5-10% shift in black spending in one month would cause a catastrophic, seismic, trillion-dollar shift in all those big brands’ values.
You have more power than you think. Keep some of the wealth for yourself. Again, the biggest driver behind the racial wealth gap is absence of ownership. In fact, this was the core of Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. So instead of allowing the wealth to travel through you, why not keep it for yourself?
People don’t realize that you only need $3,500 in cash to own $100K worth of property.
Anyone can acquire real estate
I did my first deal in 2016, picking up a three-family property in Jersey City for $750,000, with 3.5% down (~$27K) and an FHA mortgage. About a year later, it shot up to north of $1.2 million. This is not genius. This is common sense.
OK, let’s expand on this concept of seventh-grade math: You only need—gasp!—$35,000 to own and control $1 million of real estate. This isn’t “fake news.” This is a basic function of how the largest companies in the world operate. And you can do the exact same thing.
In fact, it is my mission in life to make sure that we do this. Collectively. Your $500 can become $3 billion—seriously.
Just look at this math: If 100,000 millennials saved $500 a month for six months and pooled it all together… you’d have $300 MILLION. In CASH. In the real world, that’s the equivalent of $3 billion of assets—real estate, energy, so on.
Think somebody won’t lend to you? Shoooot, they’d be coming to YOU. Here’s the reality. Money has no color; racism is a classist construct.
Changing the Narrative & Reclaiming the Power
I am fortunate to have the unique perspective of having two sets of black AND white parents (European, West Indian, African). I’ve grown up in a poor black household in the projects. And I’ve grown up in a wealthy household on the beach. Until I was 12, I lived with my grandmother, a political refugee ousted from South Africa due to apartheid and my grandfather’s affiliation with Nelson Mandela.
Naturally, I grew up thinking the rich were lucky, successful people, who were handpicked by God and that I’d never get a break in life. (Effects of this passed-down trauma lasted until I was 32, honestly.) Later, I moved in with my white father, an entrepreneur and real estate investor with a booming business. I then learned firsthand… the opposite.
I truly believe the difference between the poor and rich isn’t systemic alone; it’s the conversations around the dinner table. The basic knowledge, discussed casually, forms the foundational narrative of what children believe is possible. It’s time to change that narrative.
Changing the narrative comes with uncomfortable pros and cons. The game benefits the ones who wrote the rules. Simple. Yeah sure, the game is rigged. But that doesn’t mean you can’t play. You don’t have to be seven foot one to be an NBA All-Star.
Once you realize that—rigged game aside—there’s nothing that really stops you from taking part. The comfortable “excuses” end. The crutch is gone.
But guess what? People are ready to change that narrative and what they tell their children. #generationalwealth and #buybacktheblock are becoming trending hashtags. Whether it’s Big Sean rapping about bitcoin, Jay-Z educating about investing, or 50 Cent flashing his ownership of a hit show, entrepreneurship is becoming cool.
I put out one video in the middle of the pandemic about how to capitalize on the stock dip. Overnight, my account went from family and friends to 31K-plus followers. And that happed with NO PROMOTION. As such, our mission has garnered over $300K in investments—people who want to own with us and change that narrative.
So Here’s Why I Write This…
I’ve never really spoken about this. But I’ve dedicated my entire personal and professional life to this cause. I see beauty in all people, so I try not to rub it in the face; I share it with love.
But make no mistake about it: My single, solitary purpose in life is dedicated to help wipe out racial inequality. Because someday I will have children in this world.
So instead of asking for change, make it. Instead of asking for justice, take it. Stop bringing plastic knives to a cannon fight. Especially when you’ve got nuclear weaponry at home.
We have put up $10 million of our own equity—everything I've built since coming here—for a vehicle to help create 100,000 new millionaires of color. (If you look at the total sum of millionaires in America, that's only 0.5%. Let that sink in.) Think of it as Robinhood or Fundrise but for urban millennials.
The education and tools are out there—on BiggerPockets, on my personal social media and website, on tons of other websites—go use it.
100,000 WOC/POC millionaires by 2030
Our goal is to create three $50 million vehicles, owned by people who care (of ALL colors), to really make a dent. Yes, maybe I’m idealistic. Perhaps I’m naive. Maybe this is a long shot. I really don’t care.
This is what I believe to my core. So this is why I’ve dedicated my life to preventing the next generation—and the one after that—from growing up like we did. Dehumanized. Disregarded. Excluded. Ignored.
You’re more than welcome to join me. #seventhgrademath #justiceforgeorgefloyd
What are you doing to make the world a better place?
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