📚 Black To School: Issue #4

February Series: Black Is Wealth, Week 4

Black Is Wealth

Welcome to issue #4!

This is the final issue of our inaugural theme, Black is Wealth! For those that’ve been with us since the beginning, you’re in for a treat. New readers, you can learn more about Black To School and catch up on all past issues right here

Black To School is a newsletter for all people interested in learning more about the contributions of Africans and the African Diaspora to global society. We’re excited to learn from these stories, draw inspiration from them, and be the change that we want to see in our own lives, homes, and communities. 

This February, we’ve been exploring the legacy of wealth and wealth building in Black communities. In this issue we’ll: 

  • Learn about investment strategies for building wealth and discover how a growing network of Black personal finance gurus are helping people achieve financial freedom.

  • Share best practices for how you and your friends can live your dreams today and still be set for the future.

Meet the New Money Mavens

Contributor: Samuel Tholley

Throughout this month, we’ve written about everything from Black wealth in African countries (there are over 80,000 millionaires on the continent) and Black majority cities with incomes that are outperforming the nation, to Black leaders in corporations who are among the top income earners in the world.

As we think about the future of Black wealth, there’s a lot to be excited about, particularly when we reflect on how Black personal finance experts are fundamentally redefining wealth from being a goal achieved by a limited few to being a mindset accessible to us all.   

It’s important to understand that like all forms of progress the road to fully living into our legacy of wealth has not been a straight line.

“First, the line of progress is never straight. For a period a movement may follow a straight line and then it encounters obstacles and the path bends. It is like curving around a mountain when you are approaching a city. Often if feels as though you were moving backwards, and you lose sight of your goal: but in fact you are moving ahead, and soon you will see the city again, closer by.”

- Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

Although Black wealth has increased over the last 50 years, the Black-White wealth gap has also grown at a more aggressive pace. This gap is not only a result of differences in savings rates and cash flow management, but it’s also due to centuries of discriminatory public policies, investing, and employment practices. With the pandemic and public unrest of the previous year, there are now strong calls within the U.S. to advance closing this wealth gap as a national priority

How are we building wealth? We’re starting with entrepreneurship and investing at a younger age.

Business entrepreneurship, real estate, and stock investing are all winning strategies to build wealth. Typically, as personal wealth grows, your home becomes a smaller share of your overall wealth  (8-26%), and your equity in real estate and companies (43-80%) represents a larger share. 

As of the last U.S. Census, the number of Black owned businesses in the U.S. grew by 31%, two times the rate of growth for the Black population. Black entrepreneurs are starting businesses younger and at a higher rate than any other group. A recent study showed that Black entrepreneurs have 12 times the net worth of non business owners.

What’s one reason for the uptick in growth? The growing voices of Black personal finance influencers now serve as living proof of the value of getting a head start in investing and building a business.

When Black buying power outpaced the market and hit a high of $1.3 trillion in 2018, marketers focused more aggressively on young Black Influencers who are (and have always been) cultural pioneers. You can find Black trendsetters across every major industry such as fashion, media & entertainment, sports, food, beauty, and (increasingly) wealth & financial services

Operating within this $13.8 billion influencer market is an emerging niche of Black personal finance gurus who are using their skills to encourage long-term wealth building over excessive spending. There are currently nearly 1,500 Black Certified Financial Planners in the US alone. 

As always, representation is important! Black financial coaches not only recognize the importance of disciplined planning, budgeting, saving, and investing, but they also acknowledge the role that race plays in the personal finance journey.  

On the road to achieving their own fortunes, Black financial experts have helped millions of households save money, eliminate debt, and invest for retirement. Their influence contributes to a change in mindset and behavior among young Black professionals. 

So What Does The Future Hold?

We’re already seeing a shift in more recent generations. In 2020, Black millennials fueled a 200 basis point growth in overall Black homeownership rates. As a contrast to the more conservative approach of Black baby boomers, their younger counterparts are taking more risks and placing big bets on public companies, including engaging in mobile trading apps like Robinhood, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab.  

In addition to all this, the rising interest in crypto currencies has led to numerous online communities discussing how Black people can capitalize on the digital currency revolution. 

For proof of how Black communities are already seeing the potential of crypto currencies, take a look at Nigeria. They’re the world’s second-largest peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin market and the largest in Africa (Bitcoin recently reached it’s all time high of $50,000 per coin). Across the globe, Black communities are demonstrating their ability to identify and adopt novel assets that have huge earning potentials.

As the financial stress of the pandemic continues to disproportionately challenge Black households, more people are motivated to improve their finances and learn more about investing. Although there is much room for progress on the racial wealth-gap, especially among Black millennials, the rise of the Black Personal Financial Influencer could not have come at a better time.


🛠️ The Black To School Toolkit

Now What? Dig Deeper with Friends, Family, and Others.

  • Continue your wealth building journey! Here’s an easy and proven 9-step guide by Millennial Money, a great resource for financial education. Want a longer read? Check out these great books written by Black financial influencers.

  • Want to learn more about some of these influencers? Interestingly enough, many of their journeys begin with a challenging personal experience with money. Here’s a good list of some financial experts. If you’re curious about how you can become an influencer, learn more here.

  • Searching for a Black Certified Financial Planner? Learn about the Association of African American Financial Advisors. They can help connect you with an expert to assess your personal finances.

  • Ready to dream a little? What could happen if the racial-wealth gap was closed and Black entrepreneurs were on par with all other groups as far as revenue, jobs, and pay? 🤯 explore this alternate universe that the Brookings Institute mapped out.

  • Want to meet the OGs of Black entrepreneurship? This is an amazing guide that shares the story of our 18th and 19th century ancestors who were merchants in Central & West Africa. They contributed so much to both the US and global economy!

  • If money could speak, what would it say about Black history? Enjoy this creative traveling exhibition that showcases currencies from around the world and features Africans and the African diaspora. Given where we began our Black is Wealth journey (Issue #1), it’s only right to note the money of Mali, home of African King Mansa Musa (the richest man who ever lived).


⌛ The Black To School Timeline

Black Wealth Comes From Smart Investing in Our Own Businesses, Real Estate, and Other Companies.

  • Start by doing some exploring in the Middle Ages (over 700 Years Ago) The Person: Mansa Musa, King of Mali, whose fortune is valued at $400 Billion (in today’s dollars), cornered the market for gold, made Timbuktu a global commercial center, and, as a result, Mali was added to the world map.

  • Then learn about the Late 19th/Early 20th Century Period (nearly 150 Years Ago) The Place: Black Wall Street, a town founded in 1906, which at its peak had over 10,000 residents, hundreds of Black entrepreneurs, and thousands of professionals. Together, they were the wealthiest, self-sustaining Black community in the Western world.

  • Build on that knowledge by studying the Contemporary Period (within the last 30 Years) The Practice: Ariel Investments, led by the dynamic duo John Rogers & Mellody Hobson. With nearly $15 Billion in assets, Ariel is the largest majority Black-owned investment firm in the world. They build diverse corporate boards, executive teams, and suppliers that produce high long term returns for shareholders and society.

  • Finally, look around and see what’s going on in the present day (here and now) The Plan: Personal Finance Influencers. These Black “Money Mavens” have achieved financial freedom and travel the world sharing what they have learned. They have it all - the right mindset, the trust of the masses, and a sustainable way to make money work for them.


About This Week’s Contributor

Samuel Tholley

Hi there! Nice to meet you. I’m Samuel, and I’m the founder of  Hidden Pages - a blog sharing the stories of some of the most influential melanated people in human history. From Black queens of England, to Black Africans (Moors) who ruled parts of Europe for over 700 years, to accounts of the first non-Japanese samurai (who was Black), Hidden Pages is jam-packed with stories that most likely you were not taught in school. 

Hidden Pages’ goal of normalizing melanated history in the consciousness of the masses is aligned with Black To School’s goal to deliver melanated history in a refreshing way. Hence, it was a no-brainer that I’d join this amazing group of researchers, designers and griots! We’re so excited for what’s to come! Stay tuned, and feel free to share all the knowledge and sources that have come your way!


About Black To School

Black To School is a collaborative volunteer effort focused on sharing Black history, collecting helpful resources, and creating a safe space for discussion. Learn more about us here and join our Slack community to keep the conversation going. All are welcome!

If you’re passionate about this type of work and want to help out, please let us know! The best way to get in touch is by emailing info@blcktoschool.com with “volunteer” as the subject, or by joining our Slack community and sharing that you’d like to be involved.

Brought to you in collaboration with the Black To School CollectiveHidden PagesATCP.co, and Robin Walker.