This Antonio Moore video, “The Racial Wealth Gap Explained in 60 Seconds,” has inspired me to write about my financial history in terms that is useful/accessible to the Black experience—not a “general” financial audience:

By the way, I regard this video as a first in Black history. I assert that this is the first Internet video produced by a Black American (outside of an educational institution) that is driven by motion graphics based on data. Antonio Moore is following in the data visualization footsteps of none other than W.E.B. Du Bois. Remember, kids, Du Bois was (arguably) the first sociologist in the United States. Notice, kids, I did not write ‘first black sociologist.’

Doctoral Warriors for the African Mind

(Sidebar: It may help Antonio Moore and the Breaking Brown audience to review and reflect on “The Philadelphia Negro A Social Study” by W.E.B. Du Bois. It should help to remember that Du Bois prepared this study as an appeal to “white logic” and their legendary objectivity juxtaposed on the alarmingly high African American infant mortality rate. My history teacher, Dr. Gerald Horne, taught us that this sincere, naive attempt fell on deaf ears and betrayed the irrational emotionalism in front of what Dr. Amos Wilson calls “rational racism.” You can listen, by the way, to Dr. Wilson talk about this in “Doctoral Warriors for the African Mind”—click on the track shown in the image at right.)

My Financial Highlights

Antonio Moore (and Yvette Carnell) are breathing fresh air on Black-on-black objectivity. This will be confused as black-on-black violence by most of the black people I have ever met (especially the ladies) erroneously framed under “emotional abuse.” I mention this because my highlights below will definitely sound abusive while the intention is to be objective.

My parents (divorced in 1977) were actively idealistic about my education and my development of character. This is the most important fact about my financial life. My parents were not fair-weather bullshitters about my character and the expectations around my level of education attainment. My father in particular never told me that an education would make everything “all right.” My mother was essentially preparing me for intellectual warfare. My mother taught me how to read personally. In terms of racial consciousness, all of this effort from my parents was done not for some implied “approval” from whites—rather to defend myself against them. I was put on the path toward education without assimilation. Knowledge was never associated with a “white” ethnic trait in my family. Thoughts came from the power of a Christian God that was superior to “race.”

1980s Bryan at Sears in Santa Barbara2

I had to work while I was on college. I had to compete directly with college students that had time to reflect on the subject of study while I was working at places like Sears Automotive. This absence from the campus culture made it less likely for me to develop relationships with (possibly more affluent) students that might form a substantial business network after college. I entered college in almost complete social isolation and I left college in almost complete isolation. (It must be mentioned that my father paid the first two years or so of my tuition in college—and in a fit of macho-son giddiness I contributed my entire life’s savings, maybe $900, as well.)

1980s Bryan at Sears in Santa Barbara2

My first decade as an adult was burdened with student debt and child-support payments. Most Americans—even middle-class Americans—will emerge from higher education in debt. What might be typical about being non-white is to have more debt than student debt. In my case, I had to pay child support as well as my student loan. I graduated from UCSB with a degree in physics in 1991. In 2008 I took a picture of my last Child Support Services payment. That is over an entire decade of being financially unable of saving aggressively. Every fact listed in this paragraph is the first indicator to an upper class person that I am not a member of their class. This hypothetical upper-class person may dare to assume that due to my low social standing and limited resources of my family that I had access to “poor quality” women (when I add the fact that my first wife was also a college student that could qualify for child support we can clearly see how I was excluded from access to upper-class “high quality” women). Associating with these women (coupled with my irresponsible fertility) causes financial burdens.

A Black Man and His Sad Child Support Payments

My first decade as an adult featured ‘infrastructure costs’ that a communicating extended family would have covered. I am using the phrase ‘infrastructure costs’ to refer to common household items like ironing boards, irons, dish racks, light bulbs—dozens upon dozens of “small” purchases that incur debt and/or prevent saving. To an authentic middle-class family these purchases would have been largely unnecessary for two reasons: the family would have supplied these miscellaneous items with condescending ease or the family would have supplied fully furnished housing.

My family supplied me with unfurnished housing with discounted rent. I am pleased to mention for the first time some small indication of black-family privilege in terms of what Antonio Moore calls wealth transfer. My father’s mother provided me with an apartment in Inglewood, CA (behind her garage) from 1992 to about 1996. For that entire time the rent was about $550. By no means were the accommodations luxurious but without this wealth transfer from my family something extreme would have happened.

My mother gave me her 1979 Ford Fairmont. I used this vehicle to transport me out of college and into the job market. This is my second, major wealth transfer. This unglamorous car can be considered a contraceptive—but I thank my mother anyway!

I opened and maintained a 401K for less than five years. According to the data made famous by Antonio Moore and Yvette Carnell, the fact that I opened a 401K account through a former employer is highly unusual in the post-baby-boomer, black world. I treated this move as an academic exercise. This means I was ignorant of the social/emotional discouragement of having a small amount of money invested (matched by the employer).

I rolled over my 401K into an IRA account that allowed me to invest in the stock market. Were I to proclaim out of context that I increased my 401K by over 50% by investing in the stock market many, many young people may misunderstand what I am trying to say. I am not saying that the stock market is “the only way” to increase income and “everyone” should invest. The reality is this was my version of a desperate survival move. I was unable to contribute cash to my IRA (like the stereotypical/mythical “middle-class” non-black person). Returns from the stock market was a terrible fallback for being unable to contribute to my IRA. To strip all of the glamour out of these revelations, this 50% increase I am “bragging” about took place over a decade—a hard, miserable decade typified by vulgar/consumer debt.

I replaced student-loan debt with vulgar consumer debt which prevented me from saving for most of my adult life. Government policy for most of my adult life meant that my time as a permanent employee (with benefits like a 401K) was extremely limited. My career path made me a contractor. Being a contractor effectively made me unable to save money—because, for me, the 401K has been the best way for me to systematically save money. What I am saying is that I have been an idiot. I could have done better. My relationship with consumer credit was mostly idiotic—my 30s were characterized by using almost all of my income to pay down (not pay off) credit cards. There were at least two opportunities to escape vulgar/consumer credit oppression in my 30s presented to me and both of them failed: (i) the Advanta Credit card with its sub-10% interest rate (this card was literally destroyed by the Chase Manhattan Bank takeover in the 1990s) and (ii) the UCLA Credit Union sub-10% interest rate personal loans (I was laid off from UCLA when Arnold became Governor of California and budget cuts ensued).

My Black-Ass Optimism

In the same manner that a murderer of adults distinguishes herself from a murderer of children, I am actually wasting time here mentioning that I never cashed-out a 401K account prematurely. I never let my oppressive, vulgar, credit card debt go delinquent. But I did all of these “great” things at the expense of never having “extra” cash on hand. I have only recently formed a functional interest in saving money (as I now understand that saving can be used borrow money from myself—without the need of being a permanent employee of a corporation—and I also understand that money has to sit on an abstract platform that is made out of money).

I assume that I will reach “retirement age” with enough funds to make a down payment on one of my children’s property (I am biased for my only daughter) and have little left over for me to move to another, cheaper country where some beautiful woman (and her family) will rob me. Lord, please don’t let me die within the borders of the United States.

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My anti-social-media activities yesterday led me to the question for a generation:

Has a Black man improved your life with just his words?

Today, here in the rasx() context, this feels like the key question to ask other so-called Black people early and often. This would have been the question I would have been afraid to ask as a young man because I know what the answers would have been—especially from the Black women of my generation and beyond.

The “universality” behind my new, favorite question is this “color-blind” question:

Do you change your behavior based on new information?

All children without any identifiable learning disabilities must eventually answer yes to this question. So this “universal” question is really a question for adults—especially American adults. What I am actually asking, without seeming all-new-age-hippie, is this:

Do you cultivate a life of learning, consciously in a world of ideas?

Now do you see my daring (or, likely, from your point of view, “stupidity”)? I dare to associate Blackness with life-long learning. I dare to associate Black men (like myself) as first-class citizens in this world. What I dare to write right here is my deep understanding that black people in general and black women eagerly in particular do not voluntarily include Black men in any world of ideas—let alone theirs.

Has a Black man improved your life with just his words?

Should I want to take the child’s table at the black intellectual dinner party (the other option would be no place at all), I would do well to mention James Baldwin. But, from the crude, pretentious, twisted point of view of a fake-black person (even a feminist fake-black person), James Baldwin is not a Black man. He is more of a universal, non-gender, non-child-bearing construct that white people find interesting now and then (because he is regarded as accessible/tolerable solely because of his Francophone homosexuality). This gives the fake-black person permission to even mention his name (but not authentically engage his ideas). The treatment of Martin Luther King would be worse.

My ‘amazing’ question is not about these famous figures. My question is personal. I am taking about Black men in your personal intellectual/metaphysical life. It can get even more demanding when I ask you eliminate your childhood role models. What about the ideas of Black men in your adult life? I can become a total asshole when I narrow it down to Black men who are not a generation away from you—Black men in your own age group. Are all of us in your generation one step away from raping you?

This focus forces you (and me) to admit that you have no Black men in your life that you take intellectually/metaphysically seriously. This means you might have to develop a rationale—an ironically racist rationale—to explain this lack (because I have noticed that my Black people here in the United States are super-oversensitive about lacking things and beings—so it’s better for us to pretend—in some death-spiraling Cosby-Show cosplay—that we ever wanted/needed what we are lacking from our loving Blackness). Just like the classic white liberal, you would dare to imply that Black men are replaceable and their absence does not imply that you are impoverished. And, yes, when I write you I am referring to self-described black women.

Women (over 35) who dare to call themselves black (and even, I daresay, actively heterosexual) would understand the value of telling me to my face that I am not needed—that I am replaceable. When you are the Black woman from my life experiences, you would understand the “liberating catharsis” to finally admit openly something you have been hiding for years from this Black male thing that no longer has power over you.

(Sidebar: the self-described “black” mother of my youngest son took profound relish when she told me years ago, “I am not afro-centric.” I could feel the waves of relief unfold in her 50+ year old face when she finally admitted this to herself from the safety of a marriage to a relatively famous “black” college professor with a distinct intellectual allegiance to a formal, modern definition of Négritude. This experience set me on the path to discover that the role of some husbands in the modern woman’s life has very little to do with her inner world—assuming, of course, that secular, synth-humanist materialists have inner worlds—non-medicated with antidepressants. So, what I am “demanding” from women as a Black man is more than what is actually going on in the “real world” of some of these Facebook-genic relationships.)

Since I am no longer afraid of your answer (in large part because I am already a Black parent three times over), I will find every opportunity to provoke you. It is all in how you respond to the question:

Has a Black man improved your life with just his words?

Put down that “self-help book,” written by that tricycle-riding white dude and answer the motherfucking question! That sounded like a violent, black animal didn’t it? How can such “violent” person be aware of enlightenment?

I need to enlighten myself with a personal rule:

Do not volunteer to be the first Black male teacher in an adult black woman’s life—unless you are willing to die for her in spite of her complete ignorance of you.

You see blind kids: some “men,” deep, deep down, define dedication to a woman that really does not understand why men should exist as the very definition of manhood. This unilateral self-sacrifice almost for nothing (when sex stops being everything) is the very definition of the American/western husband. These “men” in private regard me as a “coward” for being unwilling to be bitch-made in such a way. These “men” effectively say:

You are either bitch-made or you are nothing.

Now we know why some married “men” must cheat—which makes the patriarchal/dominator-culture problem worse. Now we know why the “men” die first.

When I was kid in my all-black, purposely-segregated, K-through-5 schools, the girls were honest. They used to say with little provocation:

I ain’t thinking about you! Forget you!

I failed to respect and understand what these girls were saying to me. I did not understand that this was really the last honest communication between girls and boys. Forget about you, Black male. There is no thinking about you, Black male.

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