Dollars and Sense: A Short Conversation About the American Dream

Ryan Taylor Data News Weekly Contributor

The “American Dream” is riddled with hypocrisy and half-truths – especially if you are a person of color. The old adage of success being a modicum of working hard and keeping your head down is not a binding truth that makes capitalism work. It is rather a modern-day folktale that could easily be found in a children’s book. The truth of American Capitalism is that it was built on the backs of African American slaves, etched in the blood of Native Tribes, and thrives on materialism’s never-ending thirst of wanting more “stuff.”

For instance, the first bond market in the United States was collateralized by the nation’s own original sin – slaves. Meaning, our ancestors dehumanization carried more “intrinsic economic value” than the land they tilled, for which blood was spilled to protect man and his inalienable rights. Serving as the primary mechanism by which enterprise and individual wealth were able to flourish and grow. Yet, as an aggregate we’ve yet to share in this nation’s bountiful fruit into perpetuity for which we conceived at its onset.

Truth be told, our greatest communal economic achievements ushered themselves to fruition during segregation. The Harlem Renaissance, the fabled Black Wall Streets (yes there was more than one), the Negro Leagues, Garret Morgan’s stop light, George Washington Carver’s Agricultural Genius were all created in the backdrop of “Separate but Equal’s” systemic inequity. Yet, as the late Maya Angelou put it “Still I Rise.”

Perhaps, our destinies inextricable interwoven tapestry fostered an environment where our dollar churned in the community more than one time, where our children lived next to the doctor, lawyer, engineer, and banker enabling them to see themselves as something more than “dregs of society.”

Maybe our value system that touted education, husbandry, ingenuity, and creativity was more easily transmittable to younger generations (it created Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, John Lewis, and countless civil rights heroes). In listening to my Granny and late Aunt Lillian speak of times past, it seems like we emphatically cared for one another back then and had a better sense of community.

You see… wealth is a practice in exercising timeless immutable principles that may evolve, but never become obsolete over time. “Dollars and Sense” is just as much about the past as it is about the present. After all, if we don’t know where we’ve been, how on earth can we know where we’re going? It’s about enlightening, encouraging, and inspiring ourselves to be the best of what we’ve always been.
“Dollars and Sense” is not about tarnishing “The American Dream”, but about how we can make it attainable for a people traditionally locked out of it, and even dismayed by it. It’s about how we can turn Black purchasing power into savings and investing power. Essentially, “Dollars and Sense”, is a conversation about how we can make capitalism work for us.

Ryan Taylor has consulted and worked for some of the biggest names in the financial services & healthcare industries. He possesses 10 years of experience delivering analytics and business intelligent solutions across marketing, financial and business operations.

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