"Financial Literacy" is all the rave right now as lawmakers and educators are rushing to the front lines promoting its relevance.
And it is relevant!
In fact according to FINRA 2/3 or 66% of Americans show low levels of financial literacy. However when white teachers who have never experienced poverty teach black, latino, and other minority students who live it everyday, about the importance of saving and budgeting when their stomachs are empty the message won't stick.
I had a coworker ask me once, "how does it feel to be poor?" and I had to go into detail about some of the ways to survive, and what have become nostalgic memories, it really brings into perspective the NEED for cultural sensitivity training included in financial education.
Have you ever had to:
-Eat white rice with butter and sugar for breakfast?
-Mix sugar and water for a beverage?
-Had a syrup sandwich?
-Split 1 dinner among a family of 4?
-Wash your dirty clothes in the sink?
-Boil water on the stove to bathe?
How then can you as an educator teach, encourage, or inspire a child who is ACTIVELY worrying about their next meal? How can you change their mind that success is not just for you but also for them? Can you understand the trauma and anxiety associated with their poverty mindset?
This article demands 2 things:
1) The need for cultural sensitivity and awareness training on the part of educators who don't look like their students.
2) An increase in advocacy and educational leadership from members of/from the communities that these young people come from.
MORE minority educators and examples of financial literacy!
MORE cultural sensitivity!
and that is why I wrote "Financially Irresponsible" outlining not only my experiences with poverty and MY shift in mindset, but also my charge to others to "Pay it forward."
Check out my TEDxTalk on Financial Empowerment being a team sport below!