I had no concept of wealth, much less how to build it, until a year ago. (For context, I’m in my early 30s.) I didn’t realize it was a concrete number: the sum of a person’s assets minus the sum of their debts. For much of my life, I thought “wealth” merely meant a lavish lifestyle enjoyed primarily by older white men like Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, which led me to dismiss it as a lofty dream not meant for someone who looked like me. Because I normalized financial struggle — while I was privileged to grow up middle class, my immigrant parents had to sacrifice a ton for me to do so — I learned to see money as something I would never have enough of, and accepted that I would carry my massive student loan debt to the grave.
But apparently, I’m not the only person of color who didn’t fully comprehend wealth until recently. Neither did Nika Booth, a money coach and personal finance content creator who shares her progress toward debt freedom on Instagram. “I, too, wasn’t familiar with the concept of wealth and wealth building,” she tells me. “The more I shared my story, I realized a lot of other BIPOC didn’t understand it, either.”
Due to systemic racism, among other factors, there is a glaring disparity in financial literacy between BIPOC and their white counterparts, Booth says. And most personal finance content — created mostly by white men — doesn’t really speak to the financial challenges we face, or the layered meanings we attach to money.
But thanks largely to social media lowering barriers to entry to content creation, combined with the elevation of Black voices in the wake of last summer’s protests, there’s been a growing movement to create personal finance content by and for BIPOC. Dannielle Romoleroux breaks down what happens when you’re your parents’ retirement account — a reality for many children of immigrants — on her YouTube channel, for example, while Gianni LaTange talks about how to build generational wealth through real estate, even with low or moderate income, on their IG account.
Through playing financial literacy catch-up with the help of these and other BIPOC personal finance content creators, I’ve learned that getting your money right is more than a matter of “adulting.” For BIPOC in particular, it can be an act of liberation. “You’re really saying, ‘I have choices,’ and for centuries, a lot of communities in the US, especially the Black community, did not have choices,” says Romoleroux, who’s Ecuadorian. While many of us would prefer otherwise, “we live in a capitalist society, and if we want to take ownership of our time, of where we’re spending …….