Jamila Souffrant 0:00
You're listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast. From Burning To Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After A Century Of Silence With Kevin Matthews.
Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast with your host Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps braveJourneyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey To Launch to financial freedom in
Unknown Speaker 0:31
five, four, three, two, one.
Jamila Souffrant 0:35
Hey, Hey, Hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast. I am a ecstatic. Look, I used a new word other than excited. I'm ecstatic that you could be here listening in on this conversation with me. I am proud to bring you this conversation with Kevin Matthews. We are going to be talking about an important subject topic and I really want to just get into it. And before we do, let me just give you a little bit of information about Kevin Matthews and what we're going to be talking about.
Kevin Matthews is the author of the book, 'From Burning To Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After A Century Of Silence'. 'From Burning To Blueprint,' tells the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. As the title suggests, it's more than a historical account of what happened over a century ago, when the town of Greenwood, a affluent African American community was obliterated. This attack happened 100 years ago, actually, Memorial Day was the-- this Memorial Day that just passed-- and happened to be the anniversary of, the 100 Year Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. And it was an area in Greenwood where African Americans were thriving. There was a business district, surrounded by residential areas. And due to some events, Kevin and I will talk about this massacre happened.
And I think it's really important, not think, I know it's really important to discuss these topics to talk about our history. It's relevant. It impacts where we are today, and unless we understand what happened, and really try to rectify and figure out solutions to the problem, and not just solutions that we can do, but the government-- the top to bottom solutions-- and then the bottom to top solutions, that we can do as people, but that the government needs to do, is important.
Let me tell you a little bit more about Kevin Matthews first though. Kevin holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from Hampton University. A certificate in Financial Planning for Northern Western University, and Kevin Matthews is a former financial advisor. he has helped more than 15,000 individuals plan for their retirement, in addition to managing more than 140 million assets during his advisory career. In 2017, he was named one of the top 100 Most Influential Financial Advisors by Investopedia. He also holds a degree his Bachelor's Degree in economics from Hampton University or certificate in financial planning from Northern University and is a born and raised Tulsa resident. So, you'll hear in our conversation why it's so important for Kevin to talk about this. Why he wrote the book, but then we're going to get into the history of Tulsa. What happened, how it impacts us still today, and then most importantly, solutions... potential solutions that can help move us forward in the right direction. I did an episode a while ago called the 'Black Tax Episode' with Shawn Rochester. I believe that was one of the most impactful episodes that I've done, because it really dived into the Black Tax. It explained what it is, what it came from, where it comes from. The history of Black Americans, African Americans in this country, and the Black Tax. So, that's another really important episode you should check out after you listen to this one. That's Episode 158. Episode 158 with Shawn Rochester. And I believe that this Tulsa conversation is going to be an important and impactful episode. And I always say this, please share this with someone who needs to hear this information. We were not taught this in school. At least I wasn't, and I know a lot of people weren't. I know I posted this on my page on Instagram. The Anniversary of the Tulsa-- The 100 Year Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. And I had a couple of people say, 'I'd have no clue this happened'. And I gotta be honest, I didn't know that this happened. I recently found out about this a couple years ago. And so it's really important to talk about these things and to figure out-- to know our history. To figure out and to know that what you see the economic and social climate realities you see today did not just happen. Rhey have been derived from our history. And unless we know our history, it's going to be hard to change and find the solution. So share this with someone who needs to hear it.
The Journey To Launch Podcast is supported by Digital Federal Credit Union, DCU. Now, don't abandon all your mid and long-term goals for some short-term fun. Look at how you can still save towards your future mid to long-term goals, while spending within reason for the things you want to do now. Here's a tip: If you can, contribute an additional 1% towards your 401k, or add an additional $50 a month to your emergency savings. While these amounts may seem small, they could add up over time if you stay consistent. Check out DCU Saving Calculator to see how much you can save for your goals. To learn more, check out dcu.org. Once again to learn more, check out dcu.org.
If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned, and so much more. Also, whether you are an OG Journeyer, or brand new to the podcast, I've created a FREE Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes, so listen to, stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.
Hey journeyers, I am excited to bring you this very relevant, always relevant, and important topic, and this guest, that I'm really excited to talk to. I have Kevin Matthews on the podcast today. Hi, Kevin.
Kevin Matthews 6:46
Hey, how are you?
Jamila Souffrant 6:48
Good, good. So I brought Kevin on the podcast to talk about his new book, 'From Burning To Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After A Century Of Silence,' came out in May. And you know, honestly, I know with the anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, which is what the book is about and rebuilding from there, that there was a lot of press and just people were paying more attention, because of the anniversary of it. The 100 Year Anniversary.
Kevin Matthews 7:15
Yeah, 100 years.
Jamila Souffrant 7:17
Yeah, but you know, I thought you know, this is relevant. We don't need only need to talk about this during that time. This is actually to be talked about any time. So, I'm glad you're on the show to shed more light on actually what happened. You are actually a resident of Tulsa. You were born in Tulsa. Right?
And so I want to talk through that and your book and the rebuilding of the Black Wall Street that you talk about. So welcome to the podcast.
Kevin Matthews 7:38
Yes, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Jamila Souffrant 7:41
So, let's get into what happened in Tulsa. You know, I do want to get into your background, because I know you have a lot of experience and overall time in the space and personal finance space and and in investing. So you have a lot of gems to drop on that front. But I do want to get into what happened in Tulsa, why we need to be talking about it, and what can be done to rebuild Black Wall Street.
Kevin Matthews 8:04
Sure, sure. I think, you know, when it comes to historical conversations, I think it's extremely important to set the stage and set the context. I think, especially when it comes to black history, we just kind of drop in and say, "Oh my god. This thing happened, and then everything was fine after that," right? Or "everything was okay." And for Tulsa in the 1920s, especially early 1900's, there was a lot of racial animosity in Tulsa, specifically, and throughout the country. So 1919 was a red summer of 1919, where we saw, perhaps, the largest, I guess, group of attacks across the country. One of the worst times for lynching was in 1919, but also in Tulsa. Tulsa itself was essentially the Wild West. Where there were two white men that were lynched in 1919. I'm sorry, prior to 1921. Which just shows you like the mob was real, like, wow, yeah.
So that sets the stage. So, on May 30 1921, this is before the attack, but a black man named Dick Rowland, went into a building as a shoe shiner and tripped, And the story goes that he startled and scared a white lady, who was operating the elevator. Newspapers came out and say it was attempted rape. Things escalate out of control, and the massacre begins. But the reason why I started off with what happened in 1919 and what happened prior, is because if you are a black Tulsan, right? You saw what happened in 1919. You knew that two white men get lynched in the years before. You know that if a black man is going to be arrested, that it is not going to go well. Right? So that's what caused a contingent of world war one black veterans to assemble at the courthouse in an attempt to protect Dick Roland, because they did not want to see the exact same thing happen. And when you get that small group of defenders that were there in a white mob together and that type of environment. One shot rang out, and then that's when the attack began.
Unknown Speaker 10:08
Jamila Souffrant 10:09
Now, can you I mean, this is more just for my education. When you say the two white people were lynched. Did it have something to do with the fact that they were assisting black people? Or was that a solely separate... do you know, like, what led to their lychings? Just curious?
Kevin Matthews 10:23
Yeah, I mean, this this was just, it was mob rule and mob justice. So, in one case, it was an armed robbery. It was a guy who got into the back of a taxi cab, tried to rob the taxi driver and shot him. And then the taxi driver ended up dying. He went to jail, right? The mob showed up, got him out of his cell, and hung him. It was so bad. And so telling of the of what Tulsa was like, at that time, that police officers were directing traffic to park to see this man, a white man, get hung, and they sold the rope by the inch. And again, that's just a white dude. So you know, you know, for a fact that if anybody of any skin color, it just wasn't gonna go well. So, that like really sets the stage. That's something I didn't know until I started really researching it. That had the black community on high alert, because that's how, "justice" was served in Tulsa, Oklahoma at that period of time.
Jamila Souffrant 11:18
Wow. Okay, thank you for like going deeper into that. Now, after the gunshot rang out. What happened?
Kevin Matthews 11:26
Yeah, so white people had, I think, it was close to a 27 to one advantage in terms of population, and in terms of like the mob versus armed black men. So, it was one black veteran who was armed and a white man tried to disarm him. And that's where the shot rang out. So after that, the mob essentially pushed those black men back into the Greenwood District, which consisted of about 3500 square blocks. They, some of those men, were deputized. So the Tulsa police department, at that point in time, we're not necessarily handing out badges, but saying, "Hey, look, you know, for the next 24 hours, next 48 hours, you are a sworn deputy, and we need you to shoot to kill. We need you to stamp out what's what's going on right now." So, they burned, they bombed in some cases, some reports say, and they killed their way through the Greenwood District. More than 300 people, 300 black people, were killed. And to this day, 100 years later, we have not found all of those mass graves. I think the count as of today is around 15 or so-- a little bit more than that. And we just started digging last year. And that, that kind of shows you how suppressed that entire event was, and why it's still so relevant today. Because, a lot of these chapters of history are still being written. And so much of this had been suppressed up until 2001 or so.
Jamila Souffrant 12:50
Yeah, now can you describe what Greenwood was. So, Greenwood was-- is a district within Tulsa that most, of where most of the black people lived.
Kevin Matthews 12:58
That is That is correct. So, it was known as Black Wall Street. But, when you compare it more accurate is really a Black Main Street. It was in an open Oasis for black people to come and sustain a very, very good middle class. So, for example, in most other parts of the South, you were a sharecropper, and that was, that was pretty much it. Your, your options were very, very limited. In Tulsa, though, you could start there, but become a business owner. You could get a decent paying job because of the oil boom at that point in time, and there are a lot of, lot of jobs in and around that space for people to get paid quite well, in a place that black people congregate together and really, purposely circulated the dollar. So it was really more of a black mainstream. You had entrepreneurship, you had great paying jobs, and it was a place where you could actually see social progress for African Americans at that point in time.
Jamila Souffrant 13:55
So, it's presumed not only-- and I saw this in you know, documentaries and doing my best to read up on what happened in Tulsa, that it was almost like this event that prompted the mob and prompted the African Americans and black people there to protect, try to protect Dick Rowland, is that there was also a fear that there was such status among these African Americans in the town, right? So, almost just like ripe for this combustion of really, like literally, flames for that part of the town.
Kevin Matthews 14:28
Yeah, yeah. And that's the interesting part. So again, like going back to like that the racial animosity and that fear, really of black excellence. You had newspaper articles concerned and saying in writing, that the fear of Tulsa becoming what they call "Muskoka Ties." So, for context, there's a smaller town, about 45 minutes outside of Tulsa, called Muskogee. At this point in time was majority black. So, the newspaper article saying like, "How do we prevent Tulsa from becoming a black town," right?
You had articles from pastors at this point in time saying that, you know, the fact that they went off to World War One, they're armed now, they're organized, and they know how to essentially fight back. Which, you know, from a pastor, you're like, really? This is what you're afraid of? But also, fight back against what? Like, what have you been doing this entire time that they would need to fight back for? So, that the fear that black people, specifically, particularly black men, since asked who fought in wars at that point in time, were organized, they were trained, they have fought and won, and that was the thing too, since we "won" World War One. White people at that point in time, were really afraid of that. And they needed something, or wanted something, to what they felt, was to put black people back in their place.
Jamila Souffrant 15:46
Yeah. So, let's talk about the the aftermath of what happened. Like, so how long did the massacre last, and what was the immediate kind of result?
Kevin Matthews 15:57
Yeah, so, depends on who you ask. There, there are some people, my brother included, that said maybe it's not done burning yet. So, some people say to this day, but technically only 24 hours, and it's, I don't want to say only 24 hours as if that was short, because it was 24 hours of, of horror, but it was from May 31 to June 1, and immediately after that... so, essentially at that 35 block area was completely destroyed, more than 10,000 people homeless and displaced, millions of dollars lost in, in property damage, and then lives lost as well. Pp to 300 is what we consider the official count today. However, that was under counted and was common to be undercounted back at the initial point in time. No one was ever arrested or went to jail. And, and Tulsa still hasn't necessarily recovered in many aspects, especially for the black community.
Jamila Souffrant 16:52
Yes, and, it's important to set this context because there's so many people-- I remember, so the anniversary of Tulsa occurred, same as Memorial Day, and I wrote a posting about it on Journey To Launch. And, I just knew there are some people who reached out and said, especially white people, and some black people, honestly, that said, "I never knew about this, this, I never knew this was like." Even my recent post, they didn't know that that happened. So, I think it's important that we are talking about this. To set the context of what we were going to talk about later on in the interview, about rebuilding, and what things can be done to help. But, I really just want to underscore how hard it was, one, to even get ahead at all after our so called "emancipation," and being freed as slaves, but then, to see a community that was building itself up, to then get destroyed, and then almost, there was no repercussions for that happening. They tried to hide it, they're still, in some ways, hiding it or not being forthcoming with what happened. It's just important to note that that is still, some of that is still going on right now.
Kevin Matthews 17:58
Yeah, a lot of that is going on right now. And, I mean, there's just so much so like I again, grew up born and raised, really right on Greenwood. My middle school is on Greenwood Avenue. My dad's home, where I grew up, is one block to the left of Greenwood Avenue. And it was not a required subject in Oklahoma history until the law passed last year. And that was because my dad was elected in office and he was the one that really pushed that to get passed. But, also when we talk about hiding the history and the truth of what happened and finding out what's going on Oklahoma, as well as other states, mostly in the south were passing laws around critical race theory. And it's difficult to discuss a race massacre without discussing the legacy of white supremacy and how deep things went in Tulsa. So, it's extremely difficult and complex to discuss, but it's also really important to understand, like, the intentionality of what happened at that point in time and what continues to happen today. I think, again, we always think "Like, oh, boom, this thing happened, right?" Or even in terms of finance, like, "Oh, boom, now you're rich," without really understanding like, "Oh, I've been saving for this for a long time I did a lot of research," is really intentional. Like generational wealth doesn't happen out of the blue, but also, generational poverty does not happen out of the blue either. And I think that's something that that people need to understand. So, in the context of the Tulsa Race Massacre, hours after the attack, there was a unanimous law that passed via city council, that they passed a brand new fire code for the black district that made really expensive for people to try and rebuild. They essentially burned and took your land, your property-- and then passed a law that says, "Hey, look, you can no longer afford to even live here now. Deal with that," Right? That's a part of it. And that, that group was called The Tulsa Real Estate Exchange. And, you know, you start to see that, wait a minute, "How is this occurring here now," right? The insurance claims were not paid out, because it was deemed a "riot." And if you Google anything prior to 2018, 2018, you're gonna see nothing but the Tulsa Race Riot. And, we had to, to go back and reexamine that, and why that word was used. It was used because of Riot Clauses in insurance claims. So people who lost their land did not get paid. People who, who lost their land initially weren't even allowed to rebuild. And that shows you a lot of, of, why Tulsa still is, for the black community, where it is today, but shows you that generational wealth, as well as generational poverty, can be very intentional, right? It can take a while for those things to manifest, or to continue to exist.
Jamila Souffrant 20:42
Yes. And can you describe what Tulsa is like today and the disparity of wealth?
Kevin Matthews 20:47
Yeah. So again, I think that the key word is disparity. You, if you google Tulsa right now, it'll tell you it's top 10 for entrepreneurial opportunity. They have all these programs to relocate people. They're trying to be a tech hub, so on and so forth. And that's true, for a certain segment of the population. But for Black Tulsans, it's, it's not the same. They just built a brand new grocery store in North Tulsa, which is the black district of town, I think it's more than 80% of the entire black population lives in this one area. But, it, it had been a food desert, I'll say that. You had a bunch of Dollar Generals, you did not have a fresh grocery store for years. In 1921, we have more than a dozen grocery stores. We had two movie theaters. You have no movie theaters today. You have no real hospitals. You have one clinic, but no real hospitals on that side of town. We had black doctors. We had all these things 100 years ago, and you don't necessarily have it now. So, it kind of shows you that there's a very stark contrast between the resources that African Americans have in Tulsa, versus the rest of the city. African Americans in Tulsa have a shorter lifespan between things like from nine to 12 years less of just life that we have, due to these circumstances, versus people right across town. So again, that shows you how deep it goes. How important it is to look at history. How important it is to reclaim black wealth, and be properly compensated for the things that have occurred to us due to the city, state, and federal government.
Jamila Souffrant 22:18
Yeah. And what-- do you know the realized loss, or what was lost in today's dollars?
Kevin Matthews 22:24
Yeah. There are a few estimates that have floated around, based on a ton of different things. I want to say the first official estimate was like $1.8 million, which in today's dollars is close like $24 million, or so. Again, those those numbers change and float around as we learn more information. And that's the important point too, is because, people really didn't start asking these questions up until maybe five or 10 years ago. So, those those numbers are constantly changing.
Jamila Souffrant 22:54
And growing up in Tulsa. So your family also, like, generations, are from Tulsa.
So, was this something like in the black community that was talked about, or did you get stories passed on to you of what happened?
Kevin Matthews 23:07
Yes, and no. So, growing up, primarily in the 90s, you had people in their 70s/80s, that would like, kind of whisper stuff like, "You know this one thing happened back, you know, back in the day," or "My parents had to go through X, Y and Z". And, but you never really had, real confirmation of it. You know? I think the first documentary I saw came out in, like, 2003 or so. And that's when you start to realize that, oh, "This really did happen." Because, you always hear stories, right? And there was no Google, right? There weren't that many books written about the massacre. And you didn't really see it in history class, that many times if, if at all. There are 83% of people who live in Oklahoma, had not heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre. So, if you heard about it, it was via word of mouth. And, there weren't many ways to really verify that up until recently. So, my dad did, did read my brother and I a book about it. And we just, you know, we were seven or eight. So we really didn't get into the the dark parts of it. But, we talked about, you know, there was a thriving black community, and black business was important. And that was, that was kind of it. It wasn't until college that I really started to dig into and understand more of it. And then the research portion of the book, where I really learned the majority of it. You know, I didn't find out up until about two weeks before the book released, that we had a distant relative that was a survivor. My great grandmother was an Indian, what they call it Indian Territory, but on Indian reservation at that point in time, so she didn't personally experience it. But we had we did have distant relatives, but again, it took 31 years of my life to figure that out. And she had passed last year, so I never got a chance to meet her. But, again, that shows you like the the depth of it. But also the level of of mystery that's still out there for so many people that still live in Tulsa.
Jamila Souffrant 24:59
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I mean, I mean, I can imagine if you growing up there having family from there still not knowing about it how someone like myself, you almost give people room and grace for not knowing up until this point. But, I feel like we need to educate ourselves. We need to learn more. And it gives me chills to know how much more things we don't know about that has happened in this country. I mean, we're now seeing a lot of more things because we have cameras, we have phones that can record things, but to imagine the cover ups and the things that happened.
Kevin Matthews 27:00
Yeah, it, it does, and it's -- while it's uncomfortable, these are still important things that we need to know, and learn, and talk about. I think what I, what I tried to do in my book was to, to link these types of events together, because I call Tulsa that capstone of white supremacy in that era. But it wasn't the only time it ever happened. So, I mentioned Wilmington in 1898, which was the first successful coup in, on American soil. I talked about Rosewood in Florida in 1923. And talk about the Red Summer of 1919. So, I, I, try and weave as many events together, so that these other places do get more attention. And then we do understand what has really happened, and how many times it's happened. Because, again, Tulsa gets the most attention, but it's not the only city in America that that this has occurred.
Jamila Souffrant 27:51
Yeah, and, and, why is it so important-- before we now talk about rebuilding-- and what we can do, what the government should, or recommendations for them to do? Why is it important to talk about this? Because some people, right, will say, "This happened a while ago." Now, those some people are not me, but what about people who say, "Okay, that happened, but what is the point of talking about it? What is the point of bringing it up, and rehashing history?"
Kevin Matthews 28:16
A few things. First off, it wasn't that long ago. Like, people say 100 years, but we are people who are still alive. So, that's, that's number one. So, don't tell me it's not a long time ago, where I can go and look at somebody in their face that was there. So, that's number one. Number 2, 100 years ago is to people who are 50 years old. They're not old. And lastly, those impacts, and those effects still exists today. Until I get that back, until I get my hospitals back... my black-owned hospitals, until I got my black-owned theater, my black owned grocery store-- until I get that back, then I will say, "All right, we're good," right? People talk about compounding interest, and the importance of that, and how it's important to invest early, and if you do this, you know, after a decade, until you have this much money, but you don't talk about the loss. And if I lose something 100 years ago, or 10 years ago, how that gap is still there. And lastly, I think we love to write off things after a certain point in time. Which is weird to me. Historically, we're like, "Oh, well, we're not gonna do reparations for slavery, because no one was responsible for it." And that was, you know, depending on how you want to count that, was 150 years ago... it was 400 years ago. However, people want to count that. Okay. But, what about redlining? They still alive. Have they gotten their reparations? What about police brutality? They're still alive and like, at what point like, Is it 10 years, 20 years, a day? Like, at what point do people just want to cut things off and say, "Well, it doesn't matter. We need to move on." We love to kick the can down the road when it comes to people who look like us. And we love to discount those impacts. And I think that's the most important thing. So it's important to learn, to know that these things still occurr to this day, but it's important to learn, because people need to cut the check, and I want, I want you to know what my address is, so I can get that.
Jamila Souffrant 30:04
Yes. Okay, let's talk about the rebuilding of it. So, how do we recover? I know a lot of this, you know, it's not necessarily in our control as, like, from the bottom up. But there are some things, but not that much. A lot of this is like top down, like you said, reparations. So, what, in your opinion, and there may be a list-- what are the ways in which we can rebuild, from the top-down and bottom-up?
Kevin Matthews 30:24
Yeah, yeah. I think that's, that's a very good approach, because it does take both. And I've argued this as well as like, yes, the state of Oklahoma, the City of Tulsa, particularly should be cutting the, the big checks. But, I, I just can't wait for that to happen, and just hope that things just, you know, eventually come around. So, reparations at the top of the list, at the, the very top, and we'll work down and start at the bottom workup. So that's number one. Number two, and, and on the individual level, I think, we do have to focus on what the current times are, and what our opportunities are. So, a lot of people when we talk about rebuilding Black Wall Street, they want to buy land, get a brick and mortar business, and like circulate the dollar in the black community, which is cool. Except that, black folks, when we talk about real estate, specifically, our homes are devalued at $48,000, on average. So, we're losing value there. When you go to the bank, and you ask for a rate, we get charged higher rates. So, we're, we're, paying more and getting less out of the real estate game. When the stock market is out there, and we're not necessarily investing at the same rates, but we could get a lot more parody there. So I think investing in the stock market is one way to kind of close the gap to a degree, and kind of rebuild to a degree. And number two is is intentionality. What people don't recognize and understand, especially about Greenwood is that two men primarily started or "founded" in Greenwood, and they sold that land specifically to black folk. And black folk took pride in spending with their own people. And they did so to such a degree that some white business owners that were, you know, on the corner of Greenwood, or very close, felt intimidated, because they felt that anybody who walked in their store, people were like, "Nah, now you need to go shop somewhere else." So, I think, you know, in this in this era is a little harder to do. Because, we're not all connected, right? Like, we're shopping online, we're doing all these other things. So, it shows that it is work, right? It doesn't just happen. It is work to support black-owned businesses, and that we need to adjust our strategy to, to include investing in the stock market, to really will rebuild Black Wall Street in the way that is sustainable in the 21st century.
Jamila Souffrant 32:37
And I love that you bring up investing, I know that's one of your specialties, investing in the stock market, and, and teaching about that. And then this intentionality, because you're right, you know, I had on Shawn Rochester, who wrote 'The Black Tax,' and that was one of actually one of my most, I say, impactful episodes. I'm hoping this will be similar to that for people learning about our history and what to do. And, you know, he said, and he made a really good point: It's not just about only black people buying from black businesses. It's not just us being intentional. Other people, other races, other, just people buying from us in general-- is that they should be intentional about it. Because that matters. And yes, we can do it within our own communities, but it really needs to be intentional on all fronts, because when we do better, everyone does does better.
Unknown Speaker 33:22
Yeah, and that's absolutely correct. I think that's something that people realize. Like, y'all do realize that if we get reparations, that money's got to be spent somewhere, like, that helps everybody, right? But, but going because I interviewed Shawn, and read his book, and use some of his research in in my book as well. And, I know he talks about purchase hiring deposit. I, I take that, and bring it to the next level, in doing what I call "Strategic Spending." So, for example, there are certain categories in the black community, where we, as 15% of the population, we represent in certain categories, well over that percent in terms of spending. So for example, for beauty and grooming, both male and female, we represent close to 20 to 25% of that, that categories spending. So we're a quarter of their revenue, right, but we're only 15% of the population. So that says that we can ask these businesses to purchase higher and deposit into black-owned banks and to spend on black on our own causes, because we make up the market. So, think of it like the electoral college, where it's like, Iowa has way more power than than with what they really should, right, like, "Why are we, why are we listening to you?" But, in the black community, we can say, "Look, I know that 80% your money comes from us. So, I want you to go deposit your money at this bank, and when we start to-- I want you to start a scholarship fund for this HBCU, because if you don't, 80% of your money is walking out the door. So, I think we, we've got to learn to organize and flex like that, because, I think that's how you get that multiplier effect. Where you've got a Nike at the biggest end of the chain, or your local hair shop or your local Walgreens, or what have you to really start to force and put their weight behind certain things. We saw how Netflix did this, where they wanted to commit, I think it was close to $100 million to black-owned banks and black causes, because you know, that we watch Netflix a whole lot more than some groups, right? and, and stuff like that, like, we're, I can't lose this demographic, right? So I think we need to find a top 10 or 15, where we all were over-represented as a customer base, and start to really force our weight there and have the Netflix's of the world, the Disney+ of the world, Nike, whoever we spend the most money at, to have them start to throw their weight behind the things that, that we need.
Jamila Souffrant 35:48
Yeah. And, it's almost like, organizing, externally outside of these companies and forcing their hand if we need to-- although like, why do we need to force your hand, like, this is, this should just be done. But, it's almost like, is it that we also need people in those companies? Because life's not fair, but one of my things is organizing is, can be hard, right? Getting everyone of the same accord, can be difficult in some aspects. And so, it almost seems like, wouldn't it be someone inside the company need to step up and say, "This is what we're going to do for the greater good?"
Kevin Matthews 36:17
Yeah, absolutely. I think it does. I think it takes allies, and takes people who would like us, to be on the board, in the room, behind those marketing campaigns. And, I think that's really a change agent, because it's , it's hard to, like, to organize and like, get people to picket, you know, be outside and like really force change. It's a whole lot easier if you just have to walk, like "Hey, I gotta meeting at two, I'll bring it up," right? So yeah, I think that's that's a big part of the puzzle. In some places it's happening, like, somebody was in the room at Netflix at that point in time, right? I think also, we've, we do need that public pressure. Because this time last year, everybody and I mean, everybody had a statement about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. But where's your support now? Like, all of this stuff around voting rights, all the, all the things that the black community still needs today? Where are y'all at now? Like, I don't want, no one ever asked for a statement to begin with. But like, I want to see everybody who had that statement, deposit money in a black-owned bank. I want everybody who has, has something to say back then, to make a donation to the more than 100 HBCUs that are out there. Like, that's what makes change. You know, if I can get a few 1000 people to do a petition to get that started, then, then so be it. But it is more efficient if you have people at the table, and cutting those checks to do that, for us. And with us.
Jamila Souffrant 37:39
Yes, and this is um, I'm trying to bring up this quote on, that I saw floating on Twitter, and I don't know the source, but I thought that this was very interesting and very true to the black and African American experience here, in terms of gaining. I'm putting in this country, building wealth from the top like up, meaning getting into the rooms so that you can help influence and make these decisions. And then also, building up your communities, and creating your own table, right, to say like, if, you don't have to wait for them to open the door for you. And if anyone knows where this quote came from, please let me know. But it says, "Negros must do a contradictory thing. They must insist that the doors of Harvard and Yale be kept open to Negros, and at the same time, build up Howard and Lincoln, as if there were no Howard and Yale." And, I thought, that, that speaks to a lot of people that I know. My whole, my own experience, and in general, what you're talking about, which is, investing as, like, in our communities, ourselves, buying-black, purchasing-black, depositing in systems that uplift us, but then, we also need to be in the rooms where the decisions are being made, and be a part of these conversations.
Kevin Matthews 38:52
Yeah, it's a really strange balancing act. And, thankfully, you can do both, which is what I'm, I'm proud of. I think sometimes we get this dichotomy where like, you can only do it if you went through this elite door, or you can only do it if you, you know, code switch which to a degree, right? I think yea, you can be Malcolm X and Dr. King. I think it's the combination of them that made them so effective. But yeah, I think it's, it is a balancing act. And it's important to do both. And if at all possible, do both at the same time. I think sometimes people think that you have to commit so much time to one, and then try and turn around to the other. But that time is money, right? And it's costly when you don't have that compounding impact. So yeah, it's, it's a difficult balancing act, but it's something that people have done, and it's something that we should continue to do to make sure that we're maximizing on the time that we do have.
Jamila Souffrant 39:42
Yes. Now, let's get into investing, because again, I know that's your specialty, and I get so many people who inquire about getting started. So, they have no clue really. They haven't done it before. They may have a 401k, or Roth, or want to do taxable investing. What are your rules of thumb, if you have any, and tips for people who want to get started?
Kevin Matthews 40:02
Yeah, I, I would say, what I've seen, especially really over the last three years or so is that, some people feel that you need to be perfect. That you need to check everything off on this, this box, right, before you start investing, or they get first investment has to be 100%. Perfect. And I think it is more important to start, than to be perfect, and to perfect along the way. I think the majority of people need to start off with an index fund and index fund owns. What I like to say is the difference between owning the Lakers, which, is my favorite team, and owning the entire NBA, where you own all the teams. It don't matter who wins, you got the whole thing. So, an index fund-- If you don't do nothing else, you are fine there. You don't have to be distracted by Bitcoin. You don't have to be distracted by all these individual stocks. It's fine if you do it, right? But do take care of the basics first. That's the first thing and the second thing is like, and I've, I've seen this, and I think that's, that the important part is from, whether it's my millionaire clients, whether it's my kids and their investments, or whether it's my own investments: It doesn't have to be complicated. And the people that you see that have all these fancy charts, they use all these crazy terms...that doesn't necessarily mean that they are performing so much better than somebody else. And that simple, still works. Simple can still be incredibly profitable, and simple can still build you financial freedom. I've seen people who have all these crazy equations and do all this stuff. I'm like, "Well, how much, How much money do you make?" And [they're] like, "Well, you know, I made $100 more than what you did." I'm like, "You did that for $100? Like, that was that was the difference!? So, don't, don't, don't be distracted by that, like, keep it simple is fine, simple is gonna get you to what you need to do. And don't put pressure on yourself to be perfect out the gate. And I would say lastly, is just, be patient. The majority of millionaires don't get there overnight, and that's okay. But, you do have to start if you don't start, it ain't gonna happen. I think that's the thing people need to realize as well.
Jamila Souffrant 42:06
Right, and when you say start, again, I want to have a little disclaimer, you know, Kevin and I, we're not giving you direct investment advice. But, you should always do your due diligence, should check with a professional, or hire someone like Kevin. But, what is it, like, when you say "Start with the basics," because, I have an idea what that means. So, what I tell people to do is it like, literally, going into, if you have a 401k right now and you have a job that has one, looking at where you're invested there. Opening up a Roth. Like, what is the basics for you?
Kevin Matthews 42:33
Well, that, that, the absolute basics are, if you have a 401k right now, put money in it, and make sure that you go and click, and tell that money to go into one of the, the options that you have there. And that's for a few reasons, number one, for whatever reason, we have taken like 401K's and put that in something that's not investing. And, I don't know how, or when this starts to happen. But people are like, "Yeah, I don't invest." Like, "Do you have 401k?" "Like, yeah." "So, you investing... you good, that counts-- what do you mean?" That's, that's number one. People, like anytime I say that people always ask me, "How much?" General, right, but most people should, should be putting somewhere between 12 to 15%. Now, go and talk to your financial professional to see what exactly, where exactly you need to be, based on your, your individual goals. But that's that's like a rule of thumb, a benchmark. So, that's number one. If you do that, and you do nothing else, you are still going to be incredibly successful. So, you don't have to put pressure on yourself to go and do all these other things. It does help to have a Roth IRA. I think that is something for most people, is it good to have as well. Those are places you can start. I think, again, it's really important for me to emphasize this, opening the account and putting money into it-- that's, that's not enough. You have to go and actually choose the investments you, that you, want to have. If you have a 401k, they'll give you a list, and you decide, you know, 5% here, or what have you. That's where you're going to start to see the money grow. And the longer you do it, the more growth that you generally will see. And that's when it starts to get fun, right? It's not gonna happen overnight. It's gonna be real slow in the beginning, but it's slow and sudden, and I'm telling you, when it hits that the sudden mark, that's when you realize like, "Oh, okay, I got something here, I'm really starting to see some progress."
Jamila Souffrant 44:18
And I'm so glad you brought up about, actually, you know, it's one thing to fund or open the account, but then you have to choose your investments. And I,I, I know some people listening to this, that are going to make money just from listening to this, by just going in and checking, and then to realize that they have not been invested in the money that has just been sitting in a money market account, earning nothing. So, go check your accounts. If you opened up a Roth IRA, or you are invested in your 401k, even if you have taxable investments, some people I helped my mom and my sisters open up their accounts, and they, they had failed to, this probably on me too, because I'm just like, "All right, follow up like in a week, once it's funded to now check your investments," but I have so many people tell me that they've made that mistake before, and I have to, honestly, years ago.
Kevin Matthews 45:02
Yeah, and, I I had a client, unfortunate story, a, a client who was ready to retire. And she had $300,000. Just like, "Yeah, I don't understand what my money hasn't grown." It was because 99% of that money had been in cash the whole time. It hadn't grown. And it's, I liken it to turn it on the oven, but you ain't putting that in there. The oven is on. But yeah, you haven't cooked nothing. And I think that's, that's the important thing like you, you have to pick what you want to bake, right? You have to pick the investment that you want to grow over time. So, just having having an oven and putting in turning the oven to 350 or 450. And that's, that's not really doing it right you're close, but you haven't really done it. So it's extremely important to make sure that your money is invested in something. Because, again, that's what's gonna get that progress. That's what's gonna get the meal started. And that's what you're gonna have to eat on right and retirement.
Jamila Souffrant 45:53
Yes, yes. Okay. So, Kevin, thank you so much for sharing more about this much needed topic that is something that continues to impact people today. Please let everyone know where they can find more about your book and then you, like, follow up on your story and your investing journey?
Kevin Matthews 46:10
Yeah, so you can find me on all social medias @buildingbread. You can also find out more about the book at buildingbread.com/blueprint. Y'all will be hearing and seeing a lot of me, so make sure you share this episode and hit me up on social media.
Jamila Souffrant 46:29
Yes, the book again is called From Burning To Blueprint: Rebuilding Black Wall Street After A Century Of Silence. Thank you, Kevin, once again.
Thank you so much.
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