I can just say 4:44.
Drop the mic.
But shall I proceed? Yes indeed.
This album took the Black community by storm. I couldn’t un-see all of the love pouring out from this masterpiece. The message that most of us heard (besides the apology to his wife, Bey) was the one emphasizing the importance of building Black wealth. I know that’s the gem I’m putting in my back pocket. For this piece, I’ma start at the end of the album.
Daddy, what’s a will?
Blue Ivy asks on the 10th and final track, “Legacy.” I loved that this question about money, wealth and what we leave behind came out of the mouth of a child, the future recipient of that wealth. Jay shows us the importance of having these conversations with our kids from a young age. He knows that many of us grew up knowing very little about money and as children we didn’t feel that we had the right to ask our parents about it.
This is what I heard about money as a child:
- We don’t have it.
- I’ll have it next week.
- Put that back, it’s too much.
- You have to wait til I get my check.
- If I get you that, don’t ask me for money for another month.
- I can barely pay my bills and you want what?
- Well that’s nice for them. They must have money.
This was always to imply that we didn’t have money, that somehow we were in a constant state of lack. There were two types of discussions about money in my house growing up: either no discussion or a negative discussion. Money became traumatic and it dictated all of the things we couldn’t do and we believed that only some people (usually White people) had it.
There’s a Chris Rock joke that I can’t shake because it’s so funny and so true for so many of us: “When White people die, they leave a will, when Black people die, they leave a won’t.“ My father passed less than two years ago and there was no will and also nothing to leave us in the first place. I was reading an issue of Black Enterprise, which stated that around 70% of black people do not have a will. Even for those who have built wealth and have worked hard their entire lives, have not secured their wealth. My parents are among that 70% and unfortunately, so am I.
Before we even get to the will, let’s talk about life insurance. I grew up never really hearing about life insurance until a child would knock on the door with a cup asking for money to bury a loved one and everyone on the block would say, “Oh you know so-and-so ain’t have no life insurance” but hell, neither did we. I didn’t know what a policy looked like until I got some insurance for me and my daughter and that was at about 24 years old (mind you, my daughter was about 9 by the time I insured her).
Another Hov-ism from the track, The Story of OJ: “You know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? CREDIT.” That six letter word that can give access to so much, can also prevent so much for so many. I remember getting phone calls on the house phone in high school and seeing my friends’ names pop up. I was like, “Yo, you got your own line?” They’d be like, “Nah my mom had to put the phone in my name after it got cut off.” In college, I remember talking to other students who were on financial aid like me who couldn’t deposit their checks in the bank because they feared their money would be garnished. Because at 18 years old, they already had bad credit. All because they had bills in their names before they could read, all because their parents had bad credit, all because they didn’t have financial stability and literacy.
I listened to this album as a person who didn’t grow up with much but expects my kids to have so much more. While I may not be buying million dollar artwork any time soon as Jay advises (but who knows), there are steps we can take to building wealth and steps I have taken to ensure that my kids don’t fear money. We all know that much of our fear stems from our ignorance and money is something we haven’t really had the opportunity to get to know and understand. We don’t invite money into our homes and show it our hospitality. I don’t know about y’all but I’m trying to have a spare room for money at my house so money knows it always has somewhere to rest when it comes over.
So in my home, we discuss the following, as a family:
- My Salary
- My budget, breaking down the household bills and the purpose behind the money we spend (I pride myself on knowing where every penny of my money goes)
- My accounts and what they’re for
- Life insurance policies
- Our financial goals
But as Jay says on the track, Family Feud, “We all screwed cause we never had the tools.” We know we need money but we don’t know how to use it, save it or multiply it. Like Jay, I’m trying to fix that too. My parents didn’t even have a bank account growing up but I can envision my children owning a bank. In order for us to build our collective legacy, we have to begin individually. Reflect on our relationship with money, respect our relationship with money, and reject the idea that we can’t have the money we want.
To my educators, let’s reinforce this idea. Our kids are not growing up financially literate. They are looking for answers and they’re getting painful lessons from the world about money. They’re getting rejected for loans, they don’t know how to budget and they see the limits placed on them once they realize that their credit is jacked.
- Infuse more financial literacy into the math classes: y=mx+b actually means something when we discuss things like principal and interest. Let kids see the real world application of these concepts.
- So many schools lack meaningful electives yet we keep talking about college readiness and independence. Our kids can’t even fill out an application for a credit card. Let’s bring that financial planning class to our schools and make it mandatory.
- Ask students to discuss their dream living situation and research how much money it would take to live that dream. Some of our kids have no real concept of how much things cost. We want our kids to dream but we need them to understand the reality of finances.
- Use Black Enterprise in the classroom. They include testimonies of people who got out of debt, Black people in Tech and Black entrepreneurs in fields that aren’t talked about in schools.
Hov emphasized the need to create generational wealth, and while we’re all hype and still trippin’ off the lyricism and message of the album, we need to put the pedal to the medal and start making power moves. Start small but start.
Thanks Hov. #4:44