Good day all, and welcome to another edition of Brown Girl Green Money. For several months now we have been writing articles with the goal of empowering other women of color to pursue (and ultimately conquer) their personal finance goals. Today we want to switch it up a bit and include men in the mix. We would like to introduce ‘The Man Cave’ to the Brown Girl Green Money lexicon, where we will include male perspectives into the conversation on personal finance and wealth-building from a culturally responsive lens. Our first interviewee is Esun Hudson, a 28 year old young professional who is currently in pursuit of a career as a firefighter. Esun has indicated that he is working to aggressively pay off his debt, and had the following to share regarding his journey.
Angela: Esun, you mentioned that you are in the process of paying off some debt. In what areas exactly, and what has served as motivation to you wanting to become debt free?
Esun: I have student loan and credit card debt that I am working hard to pay off. I don’t want to see younger people coming up behind me to suffer through the difficulties that I went through, or to feel limited in their ability to have the things that they want in life. But I also recognize that there aren’t always people around that can serve as role models and examples as to how to become debt free. I want to be one of those examples, but I can’t teach if I’m in financial bondage myself. I desire to have a positive impact in my community, particularly as it relates to personal finances, and would like to help others become free from financial bondage. That’s what motivates me.
Angela: Did you experience or were you exposed to a lot of knowledge and information about personal finances growing up?
Esun: I remember taking a personal finance class in the seventh grade, and do feel as though I was given information to help me make the right decisions and to handle money at a young age. But at that time, the last thing on my mind was managing money properly and efficiently. My focus instead was on spending so that I could keep up with the latest fashion trends. I kept this mindset for a long time, just because it was reinforced by the media and others around me. But now I’m observing the lives of others and what they’re able to do with their finances, both personally and within their communities, and that is empowering to me. I would love to do the same, and help out my family and community as well.
Angela: That’s great! As you know, Brown Girl Green Money was started as a pathway to economically empower Black women and women of color in order to help close the racial wealth gap. As a young Black man, what are some challenges that you think are specific to your group that relates to finances?
Esun: One of the things that needs to be taught is personal finance management in high schools. And if those classes were taught, was the information presented in way that could be understood by the students? Financial literacy is definitely a necessary first step, but beyond that we have to be willing to put into action the things that we do know and learn. How do you tie financial success and prosperity back to your community? Especially in the Black community, how do we improve keeping money in the Black community? Everything we’re taught through popular media encourages us to spend, and it’s easy for our culture to fall into a consumerist spending cycle. Breaking that mold will definitely lend to financial success, while also taking responsibility for our own actions and cleaning up our financial situation. Then we’re better positioned to help our people as whole.
Angela: I love how you spoke about being consumer driven, and how long the Black dollar stays in the community. Because compared to other racial/ethnic groups, the Black dollar stays in the Black community for the least amount of time. I’m glad you also spoke of the importance of being personally responsible, such that each of us can become great role models for others. I appreciate you sharing, and it sounds like you are on a great path to setting yourself up for financial success. Is there anything else you would like to share in closing?
Esun: I would like to congratulate Brown Girl Green Money on what they’re doing, and hope that it continues to catch on.
Angela is a researcher/program evaluator by day, and crime fighter by night. And by “crime,” she means the perceived inability to turn dreams into reality. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your money story, chop it over life goals, or all things Shonda Rhimes. Also, check out Brown Girl, Green Money on the book of faces at www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney