Why I Believe It’s Time For Us To Let Go Of Excuses And Get Our Money Up
Getting on the right financial track takes discipline.
There’s been controversy in the last few years about whether post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is even worse than previously thought because researchers have found that traumatic stress can leave genetic markers that are passed on to children. Now, Dr. Rachel Yehuda and others on her team of neuroscientists who study epigenetics have tried to be careful not to suggest that suffering a major trauma like the Holocaust or slavery automatically passes negative effects of the trauma down through generations. Yet, many in mainstream media have suggested exactly that — as in assertions that the suffering of slavery is carried in your DNA.
It seems to make sense that when parents suffer inhumane traumas, their children are also impacted — whether through increased anxiety or increased resiliency. We in the African American community know only too well that slavery was not a one-time event and that we still suffer greatly because of it. Yet, we’ve also overcome great obstacles and had watershed moments, like the Civil Rights Movement, where we’ve gained tremendous momentum and courage.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. felt very strongly about eliminating the negative effects that slavery and Jim Crow laws caused on our wallets and had taken up economic justice as his next leg of the movement — right before he was assassinated. Five decades later, most families in America are in debt and African American families are in far worse debt, to the point where some researchers have estimated it will take centuries of positive action to close the wealth gap between blacks and whites.
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So whether its in your DNA, whether your parents never taught you better or whether you’re just susceptible to American culture, there are many excuses for remaining in debt. Being in debt, however, is just another form of slavery. It is depressing, debilitating, dejecting, confining and traumatizing. It’s a place none of us would rather be.
When we’re in debt we make confounding decisions, like using payday loan services, that only serve to get us deeper in debt. These places charge 390 to 800 percent interest! It drives me crazy. In a country that overcame slavery, where we won the right to vote, that we hoped was passed discrimination, we still tolerate this predatory industry that sets up shop in low-income neighborhoods.
Payday loan shops charge people exorbitant fees and interest rates just to borrow a few hundred dollars. The payday loan industry is the crack cocaine of the financial services industry. The average person who takes out a payday loan needs nine more payday loans before they are free from that original debt. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a legalized form of loansharking.
Yet, we make bad choices when we’re in debt. The good news is, there is a way to turn the tide. It starts with taking personal responsibility. It starts with saying it doesn’t matter how we ended up in the financial mess we’re in as long as we make the commitment today to take active steps to get out of it.
Now, I was once in deep debt and I know just how difficult it is to take this first step on a journey to financial freedom. And it is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. It requires serious commitment, sacrifice and dedication. Trust me, the journey is worth it. One of the best things you can do for your family and pass on to your children is healthy financial habits.
Start by just letting go of the excuses. Next, examine your lifestyle and everything in it that is causing you to spend beyond your means. This examination may take a little time and may be even more depressing. That’s one of the reasons I suggest undertaking this journey with others. There are many financial literacy programs available, although the irony is that many bill you for their services. I recommend mydfree.org because I created it as a free alternative that focuses more on lifestyle changes than debt relief and because it is a financial freedom movement where you can find support at many local community groups and churches.
Once you have a financial management plan and are working it, you will live it. You will achieve financial freedom, which gives you the independence to pursue your dreams. It also gives you the ability to help others.
I know it’s easier to latch on to excuses. Some people like to say choosing the easy course is a mindset that came from slavery, but what about slavery was easy? Our people have shown time and time again that we can do what seems impossible and emerge still full of love. We embrace hope in chaos. We are a strong people. We are a spiritual people. Tap into that strength and become a victor, not a victim. Then, pass on that legacy and tradition. Let’s make solid financial standing part of the DNA of the African American community.DeForest B. Soaries, Jr.