Episode Number: 231

Episode 231- Minimalism: A Guide To Living With Less So That You Can Have More With Christine Platt, The Afrominimalist

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Jamila Souffrant 0:00

You're listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast. A Guide To Living With Less So That You Can Have More With The Afro Minimalist.

Intro 0:10

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast with your host, Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the Journey To Launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.

Jamila Souffrant 0:36

Okay, hey, hey, hey, Journeyers! Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast. I am really excited, as I always am, to bring you this conversation. But I want to give you a heads up about this episode, to let you know what's going on, because maybe you looked at it and you said, "Wow, this is a little shorter than Jamila's typical episodes." And I want to tell you why, but also why you still should listen, because in this short amount of time, my guest today, Christine Platt, and I cover some topics that could change your life, okay? So one, let me tell you just a little bit more about Christine Platt. Christine Platt is a modern day Renaissance woman also known as the Afrominimalist. From serving as an advocate for policy reform, to using the power of storytelling as a tool for social change, Christine's work reflects her practice of living with intention. She holds a BA in Africana Studies, MA in African American Studies, and a JD in General Law. Christina has written over two dozen literary works where people of all ages. When she's not writing, she spends her time curating her 630 square foot home. Chronicling her journey, and encouraging others to live with more authenticity and intention. She most recently wrote the book, 'The Afrominimalist Guide To Living With Less,' and she's radically reenvisioning minimalism for everyone. And I really did enjoy talking to Christine. There's so many similarities between Christine's entry into the minimalist movement and creating space for herself and people who are marginalized and look like her. And also, I feel like my journey into financial independence and the retire early space the fire movement.

Now, let me just tell you a little bit about what happened with Christine's episode. So, Christine and I tried to record this conversation twice. The first time we started to record 15 minutes in, the Wifi, the whatever, the connection, it just was not working. So we decided to reschedule and do it another day. Then we recorded it this day. So what you'll hear is the second recording that Christina and I did. Now the second recording was about an hour long, and it was amazing, as usual. But, again, this last part of our interview, the audio, the sound, was corrupted, and we couldn't use it. But, we managed to salvage the first 20-25 minutes of our conversation. And let me tell you, in that first 20-25 minutes, we go there. And so, I want you to enjoy this episode, and then also stick around to learn how to win a copy of Christine's book, 'The Afrominimalist Guide To Living With Less.'

Journey to Launch is supported by First Republic Bank. Now, more than ever, First Republic's priority is serving their clients and communities. Their personalized banking solutions go deeper than a transaction. For over 30 years, First Republic has striven to leave a positive impact on the communities they serve. From presenting grants to nonprofits in need, to going the extra mile to connect individuals experiencing hardship with fair loans. The bank is focused on doing the right thing. I've been more intentional about who I bank with and where I put my money, which is why I've opened up an account with First Republic. They even do monthly education and social online events for their clients on a variety of fun and educational topics. No matter what your financial goals are, your dedicated First Republic banker will be there to guide you every step of the way. Visit firstRepublic.com today to learn more. That's firstrepublic.com. Member FDIC, Equal Housing lender.

Okay, let's hop into the episode. Hey, Journeyers. I have a special treat for you. I mean, every week is a special treat, but this is really special, because this guest and I... we tried this before once. To record the conversation, but God had other plans. And, you know, what, I have a, I have a story to tell Christine where we get into this about why I think that happened, or just how it benefited me that we had to delete this conversation. But I have The Afrominimalist on the podcast, Christine Platt. Hi, Christine.

Christine Platt 4:47

Hey, how are you? I can't wait to hear this story.

Jamila Souffrant 4:51

Okay, so a little backstory. So, Christine, and I started to record this podcast episode a couple weeks ago. We had some technical difficulties, so we got about, like, what, 15 minutes into the conversation and it was so great. And I was like, "Okay, we'll just reschedule," but over that weekend, I was like, "You know what? I need to clear out my closet." Like I was being... I was very inspired by reading your book. And really knowing that, like, my closet was a hot mess. That I needed to throw things out. I've been delaying it for a while. And so it gave me the space to really like, throw out and donate a lot of things in my closet. It looks so much better now. I feel so much better. So I was like, I can't wait to tell Christine this now, when we have our conversation again.

Christine Platt 5:33

It's so funny, because, you know, ever since the book came out, I'll get text messages from friends. It's usually, it'll just be like, four garbage bags, or, you know. Or bins. Or I'll receive DMs from people. And I love it. I mean, I love that so many people are being inspired. Which I'm sure we'll get into today. I mean, our stuff extends beyond the price tag, right? Like, there's just so much there. So I'm just really glad that you were inspired in that way. And, yeah, I, I can't wait to finish our conversation, because we were definitely on a roll.

Jamila Souffrant 6:12

Yes, well, so one of the things that I did mention is, when I first started reading your book, I was on the beach, and I got really emotional. And I was like, I don't know if it was the margaritas...or this, this part in your book where you say, it's really up front and in the beginning. And it's like, "For our ancestors, living with less is now our choice."

Christine Platt 6:30


Jamila Souffrant 6:30

And it really framed this for me, because I know some of the pushback even in my own mind, you know. Or from other people, when it talks about minimalism, especially for people of color, especially for black people, is, "Does this mean we can't have things? And why? Like our ancestors, the people before us, were denied so many things, this is our time to have and to be." The choice factor is a big deal. So I want you to get into your story as The Afrominimalist. How you came to be this and what brought you to this place where you wrote a book about it. Now, almost kind of on leading your own movement within the movement, that makes it more inclusive for people of color.

Christine Platt 7:07

You know, I think I started like most people, in the sense that, you know, you wake up one Saturday morning, thinking about everything that you have to clean. Looking at the piles of laundry, all the stuff that you have to do. And I was just like, "This is just all too much." There has to be another way. And of course, whenever you search online about like, "How to Simplify Your Life." "How To Be Organized," like all these things about minimalism would come up. And so that Saturday, and it was actually five, yeah, about five years ago, now, I decided that I was gonna start my journey into minimalism, but I had no idea what I was getting into, because mainstream media focuses so much on the aesthetics. And so, I was focused on, "I can't wait until my house is aesthetically minimalist," right? Like, just clean lines, and few things, and a neutral color palette. And what I discovered on my journey was that, you know, like I just said earlier, it's so much more than our things, right? And it led me to, you know, ultimately, I did end up marrying the aesthetic that I saw on Pinterest, and I hated it. It didn't feel like me. It didn't feel good. I missed colors. I missed fabrics and textures. And so I was like, "Uh, you know what, I'm just gonna create my own little version of minimalism." And you know, black folks. Like to claim something as ours, we put "Afro" in front of it. So I was like, "I'm the Afrominimalist," you know? And then, I begin sharing my journey online, because I'm like, "Surely I'm not the only person out there." First of all, I'm not the only black minimalist. Let's just start there. Secondly, I know I'm not the only minimalist of color. I think Marie Kondo had, like just come out, but she was like, the only other person of color that was in the minimalist space. And then also, I was like, "You know what, I also want to just share this, just in case there are any other people out there who may just be curious about a minimalist lifestyle, but wonder how does it kind of look when you do it your own way?" And, Jamila, I never expected it would become what it has become now. I mean, as you know, I write children's books. You know, I work at the anti-racism Center at American University. Like I mean, I had a very full life, and this was just a way for me to share this aspect of my life on social media. And what ended up happening, it was just this following came and it started with other minimalists, who were like, "Yeah, I mean, I use color too. And, why is the face of minimalist so aesthetically pleasing, instead of focusing on the practice?" Which is really living with intention and being authentic, and my platform just grew and grew and grew. And then last summer, you know, we're in the middle of a pandemic, and I think I just finished writing like my last children's book, and the world had slowed down, Jamila and it was just such a beautiful time. Then my agent said, Ah, I think this would be a good time to like work on your Afrominimalist book. Like, people are quarantined. They're sitting and dealing with their stuff for the first time. They can't escape it. And she was like, "Why don't we put a proposal together?" And, I put a proposal together. And the first editor we sent it to said, "Absolutely." And now here we are. So yes, I got... I received the book deal, wrote the book. The book was published. All in less than a year, which I do not recommend to anyone. But I'm glad I did it.

According to, you know, standard publishing, because it's supposed to take like, three years. Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, you're usually on a 18 month cycle, but, you know, even they saw the urgency in this message. And so I'm grateful, Jamila. I mean, and so now here I am, one of the few black women practitioners in the minimalist space. You know, just trying to spread the word. I mean, my book was written for everyone, but I really, you know, have these special call outs for people of the African Diaspora and other marginalized communities. Because, like you said, sitting there, you know, looking at that, quote in the beginning and getting emotional, we just have a very different relationship. And, you know, this history and generational things that we're carrying in regards to our things.

Jamila Souffrant 11:33

And what I love about... when I was finding similarities between the minimalist movement, and even the FIRE movement, the Financial Independence, Retire Early Movement, which I am, I always say, I have, like, one foot in that movement, but it's just like life, and personal finance, in general, because it's the same thing. I knew that there were so many people in the space before I came into it that were doing great work, and I learned from, but it was just something missing. There was no.... connection of the story and the background. It, the nuances that they would not be able to pick up. I saw we're missing, and I think it's so important for people to be inclusive, but it's hard when you don't have a reference point where you don't have the lived experience. And so I think you in the forefront now, and I know that there are other people in the space that are people of color, and black people, like I just see more of it happening now. And more people coming out on their own platforms, and podcasts and blogs, in both spaces, and a minimalist space and the FIRE movement and personal finance. I love it, because we need representation and it matters.

Christine Platt 12:34

Yeah, I mean, it really changes things. And it's so funny, because I've.... I mean, I've heard from people of all races and ages. And you know, they'll say, "I mean, you know, I always liked the idea of simplicity and minimalism, but every time I would look at those photos, I couldn't do it, it was so barren." You know? Like, I think there's, there's something powerful about sharing our stories, and for those who are willing, to, if it's the FIRE Movement, really talking about your finances. For me, it's the minimalist movement and really talking about, you know, let's get into like, the psychology of ownership. Like, let's get into the heart and nuance of what we're doing, because you really have an opportunity to help someone aspire to a different life and also be a source of inspiration, which I think is so important. And like you said, I mean, these are considerations that a lot of other people don't make. If it's not their lived experience, it's not something that they're going to think about, but then quite a few decluttering specialists who have said, "I wish you can see my, my the copy of my book." It's dog eared. It's highlighted, It's tagged. Because these are considerations that I never, ever thought of making for my BIPOC clients, which I think is so powerful, you know?

Jamila Souffrant 13:50

Yeah. And here's the one. So the, call, one of the call outs and something that I think is so complex. And I hope to also talk more about this. in my future book, and just in general, my content, because you just mentioned the nuance of ownership for Black people in marginalized groups. You have this in your book, and I've read this in other books that have... really did a good job of really understanding our experience with ownership, and the false sense of security that it can provide, because we have been denied so much in this country, you know, coming from slaves, the descendants of slaves. And so, we see ownership and stepping into wealth, and having nice things, like that's a win, like we want that, we celebrate that. But it can also be detrimental to building real wealth. Can we talk about that? Because that's one of the things where there are a lot of people talking now about, you know, we deserve luxury. Which I believe. We deserve nice things, which I believe, but I just think some of that is counterproductive to building real wealth and it may be rooted and you talk about this in the book, and still white supremacy and/or this capitalist society, that it's not really good for us. Even though we're pretending, or It is packaged as if it is good for us. So let's talk about that.

Christine Platt 15:02

Yeah, I mean, and the, the thing is that I like to, you know, one of the reasons I like to share on my platform so much, is to show what a very, I mean, you can still have a luxurious life. You can still buy things, right? I don't know where this sense of either/or, you know, sort of comes from, because you can have both, which is what I want to tell people. But you really want to understand that if all of your, your wealth and your resources are tied up in buying things, have the opportunity, or the resources to build generational wealth, right? Our things are not going to.... few things, will build generational wealth, right? It's obviously very different if you're, you know, let's say a collector of Rolexes, or this or that, right? But it's still a consideration that the average person has to make. The person who is living paycheck to paycheck, right? And like, yes, your paycheck comes in, you're like, "Gosh, I work so hard. Oh, these last two weeks sucked. I want to buy a thing," right? And then, next thing, you know, like, it's a week later, you're like, "Oh, my God, I cannot wait until my next pay day." Like that, is concerning, right? The story that I like to share is when my daughter, when she was younger, she had this American Girl doll. and this American Girl doll, Jamila, it lived an amazing life, okay? It had a house. It had a bed. It had, you know, it had everything. I remember even buying it, like, a tiny Christmas tree that we decorated with tiny ornaments.

Jamila Souffrant 16:42


Christine Platt 16:42

It had a violin, because she played the violin, right? And it's like, yes, all of that was really cute and wonderful and fun. Except for if we have an unexpected expense. A flat tire. A this or that, right? You're like, all of a sudden scrambling. That is concerning. Yes, I could keep up that stuff, right? Like, I was working, I got paid, and I could buy it, but could those resources could have been better spent being saved? Invested? We have a choice to make, and oftentimes, you know, to your point about, you know, understanding whether, am I like buying into this capitalist structure in society, right? Like, we have come to things and owning certain things and having certain things with The American Dream. Wealth. We have made it, right? And in reality, that is not what wealthy people do, right? And that is not how wealthy people get wealthy, especially when you're first generation, second generation, six-figure income earner. You don't have a generation of people who have told you, this is what you do. Here's how you invest in the land that we left for you. Here's how you invest... You see what I'm saying? Like you're literally starting from scratch. And instead of investing in American Girl doll house with all the things and all the stuff, figure out how you can get some investment property, you know what I mean? Like, that's what I want people to start to think about. And I think marginalized groups find themselves just in this very, very slippery slope of a place where we are just more prone to conspicuous consumption, right? Like we're more prone to buy things because of the status it gives, or the perceived status or wealth that it gives. We're more prone to looking at aspects of our childhood and finally having an opportunity for fulfill those unfulfilled wants, right? So many first gen folks grew up with, you know, scarcity, food scarcity. There's so many things that play a role in our adult spending habits and behaviors. And if we're not careful, and if we don't do that self inquiry and work out what those are, we find ourselves looking up one day, and we're 60-70 and like, "I have nothing, I have nothing to retire on. I have nothing to leave my children and grandchildren." And all those things that you bought all those years. They're long gone. They're gone. Hmm,

Jamila Souffrant 19:31

Yeah, and you say it in the book, outsourcing your sense of self worth. And that can happen if we're not conscious of what we're doing. So I love that you were talking about this.

Christine Platt 19:43

Yeah, you have to be really careful.

Jamila Souffrant 19:46

When you talk about minimalism, how did you start your journey? So someone now listening was realizing, "Okay, maybe I do have too many things. I know this. I just haven't done anything about it." What started you on your path? Like what were the steps you took so that someone listening now, can begin to re-imagine their life and their things?

Christine Platt 20:04

Well, yeah, so first of all, they don't need to do what I did, because I didn't have a guide. I wrote a guide. I wrote the guide that I wish that I would have had. And, you know, I think the steps that I put in that book are what I did, unknowingly, is acknowledging that you have more than you need, right? And going through that process. I was just like, you know, you look around and you're like, "I actually have a lot of stuff," and you start pulling stuff out, like, "Why do I have?" Right... like that "Why" is the part that mainstream minimalism also left out. I started to do just a little deeper, like, "When did I become a bargain shopper," right? You know, like, digging into those aspects of my childhood and past. And that acknowledgement for me was was the first step. And that acknowledgement can be very emotional and painful, which is what led me to write step two, which is forgiveness. I remember standing in front of my piles of things. I didn't have any guidance, like, go in categories, don't think you can do this in a weekend. Like I didn't have any, any of that, so I just pulled everything.... be a weekend warrior. And then all of a sudden, it was, look at all this stuff. There's no way you're gonna get through it in one weekend. And I remember feeling very emotional, and I cried, I was angry with myself. I was sad, like all these different things. And step three is when I felt that I could let go, right, because I had worked with the acknowledgement. I had worked through the forgiveness.

Jamila Souffrant 21:38

I like that you saying it takes a while too. So this is nothing that you can do overnight, right? This is a process an ongoing one.

Christine Platt 21:47

Mm hmm.

Jamila Souffrant 21:51

Okay, Journeyers I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Christine. I saw so many similarities between her journey into minimalism and my journey into financial independence and just the movement itself. And I love how she was able to carve out a space in which she can now hold space for people who may not have felt included and represented otherwise. And it just, it's amazing to see people stepping up and becoming the representation. Becoming the thing that they wish to see in the world. Creating the platform. I just love being able to have that conversation, and of course, living with less so we can have more, okay? Our option, we have options to choose what we want. And we can choose less, and it doesn't mean that we are less, right? We are still deserving. We are still worthy. But we don't need to outsource our worthiness to things in order to prove our worth to other people. All right. Don't forget you can win a copy of The Afrominimalist book, by going to journeytolaunch.com/win. Put that name and email in to get entered. That's how we'll know to draw your name from the list of potential winners. Also, you can follow or subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen and leave a review. That secures that you are now entered to win one of the books and by the way, it is only US only people. Sorry for my international folks who are listening. But US only participants only, where we can ship the book.

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journeytolaunch.com, or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your Jumpstart Guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart. If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show: One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple Podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple Podcasts, rate, review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love, love, love, interacting with Journeyers there. Three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you. Sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So, show them some love for supporting your girl. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying Journeyers.

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Christine Platt, author of ‘’The Afrominimalist Guide To Living With Less,’ and pioneer behind The Afrominimalist, joins the podcast to talk about how she’s carving out space for BIPOC within the minimalist movement. We discuss her journey towards living with less and how she outlines the differences for historically marginalized communities, which radically change the movement and minimalist community. Inclusion and representation matter, and this episode demonstrates the importance of recognizing this fact and celebrating these leaps forward within the minimalist movement.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • How minimalism is different for BIPOC
  • Where Christine started on her minimalist journey
  • Why minimalism isn’t living with less, it’s living with intention
  • How you can have luxury and also live with less + more 
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Other related blog posts/links mentioned in this episode:

  • Enter for a chance to win Christine’s book: “The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less” by going to journeytolaunch.com/win and follow the instructions! A winner will be announced on September 15th.
  • Grab Christine’s book here
  • I’ll be taking the stage at FinCon 2021 in Austin as a Big Idea Speaker. You can grab your ticket to join me in person or virtually here (use the code “ FCJOURNEY5“ for a discount) 
  • Nominate Journey to Launch for the Plutus Award by clicking here
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