Several months back, a colleague forwarded a tweet that plainly stated something others have spent paragraphs, pages, and entire books attempting to articulate: “We cannot financial literacy ourselves out of poverty or capitalism.”
At the time, Complex was in the early stages of planning what today we’re introducing as our Get Money initiative—a content package of editorial pieces, original videos, and social-first posts dedicated to helping our audience better understand their finances and the monetary issues that most closely impact their lives. The idea, which had been periodically discussed at Complex for years, was based on a simple concept: 1) we know our audience, 2) we know that our audience is interested in topics around money, and 3) we know that when it comes to money, the system is not set up in their favor. When examining history and the flow of financial information in America, it’s clear that the game is manipulated to disadvantage Black people, people of color, women, and the young—groups that collectively make up the vast majority of our fans. I was excited to use my position as an editor and media member to, in some small way, help right these wrongs.
Further fueling the pursuit was how personal the topic had always been for me. I’m a Black man in America. Effectively first-generation middle class. I have witnessed firsthand the financial, educational, and cultural chasms that exist between the world where much of my family is from, in West Philly, and the amenity-stuffed New York luxury high-rises (and semi-frequent picturesque European excursions) of people I now interact with regularly. Places in the US that are less than 100 miles apart but feel and behave as if they operate in different universes, under differing laws of physics. The obliviously wealthy typically have little to no appreciation for the crippling, compounding effects of poverty and societal neglect on the minds and bodies of millions of my people. Just as those who are victims of deep-seated poverty tend to have a caricatured view of the wealthy, unaware of many of their advantages and the ease with which they can hoard money, knowledge, and power.