Derek Minor Founds Black Financial Literacy Campaign ‘We Own Now’ [INTERVIEW]
It’s that time again. Derek Minor is doing something to shed a spotlight on the African Americans and the minorities of this nation. This year, for Black History Month, he kicked it up a notch with the phrase – OWNERSHIP IS THE NEW BLACK.
So what exactly does that mean?
The idea was sparked for Derek by author and speaker, Dr. Claud Anderson who speaks on the idea of PowerNomics.
At the end of 1863 Black people owned half of one percent of the wealth in America. Now, nearly 150 years later, that rate is only at 1.5%. “At the rate, we’re going we are going to be right back at that point in the next 15 to 20 years,” the rapper explained.
“I never thought we were that far behind financially. America is built on capitalism. It was very shocking to me.”
Derek Minor is now using his platform to bring about change in the Black community. He wants to promote financial literacy and help his people succeed by making smart financial decisions.
Straight from his website:
Ownership is the New Black is a movement promoting and supporting black ownership, shifting our consumer power to ownership power. For example, rather than just buying shoes, buy stock in the brand. Rather than simply renting our homes, invest in real estate. This is paramount, not just for the black community but for the world in general. Imagine what would happen if a community with this much financial and cultural influence was able to grow and thrive. The possibilities are endless.
“I’ve always been a person who was an entrepreneur since right after college,” he explained. “How can I help with this issue? Can I help change what was going on?”
He continued, “Black History Month is coming. I want to inspire people to be fiscally responsible with their finances and to push forward to make wise decisions and understand how storied Black History is.”
The entrepreneur says we as a society focus on the negative side of African American history. All the time and energy is put on lynching, slavery, and Jim Crow. But he says, “There’s so much more” that is not covered.
“We’ve invented so much and contributed so much. I wanted to shine a light on what’s happened. I’m trying to stay away from people everyone knows (Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver, etc). There are so many other people that have done amazing things that no one knows,” he revealed. “Also, give small tips along the way. Bringing information to life that is simple and basic that can change someone’s life in little ways.”
Minor isn’t necessarily selling any information here. The information and value he is providing are free on his website and socials. He does have an “Ownership is the New Black” t-shirt on there for $25. However, those t-shirts are to fund education. All of the clips and people he’s had manage stuff is a labor of love out of his own pocket.
And before anyone makes this about race, he explained: “My focus is on Black people because we are behind everyone financially in America. We own 1.5% of the wealth in the country. My white brothers and sisters are mostly doing excellent and have the best of everything as far as education per capita on average.”
“But, everyone can use these tips no matter who you are.”
When we look into the 1.5% of Black accumulated wealth, that number also includes entertainers, athletes, musicians, and the like. If you remove those rich figures, the percentage goes down further. Minor notes that while this is true, many of those “rich” entertainers have “money” but not “wealth.”
What’s the difference?
“The problem with artists, they generate a lot of money but don’t own anything. When we say owning wealth, we aren’t saying generating money, we are saying owning something. How many own the label they are signed to? How many own their masters, or even their home? They have jewelry and cars, if they even own that. It could be leased. What do you own that is generating wealth?”
He continued, “Black people annually spend 1.2 trillion dollars. The Gross Domestic Product of Mexico is 1.26 trillion. If you took Black people and gave them the state of California, and our GDP was 1.2, we’d be a top 20 economy in the world. We spend all that money but only own 1.5% of it. That tells me our focus is on consumption rather than production. I’m trying to solve this.”
In most American communities the US dollar circulates about 8-12 times before it leaves that community. In the Black community, it doesn’t even circulate once. This means they are spending their money to benefit other people. This isn’t inherently bad, but it leaves little to no support of their own Black communities while others not investing in it are becoming rich.
Minor said White Americans should want minorities to own a bigger chunk of the economy because it will help them in the long run.
“That’s fewer people on welfare. Realistically that’s less taxes that everyone has to pay,” he revealed. “More innovation and solution for the problems people are having. You can a brilliant black mind that didn’t have the resources. Instead of buying Jordans, you want to buy stock in Jordans.”
*A generalization* Why do Black people have the latest shoes and clothes? Why are rappers buying cars, new teeth, and throwing their money around?
“You don’t own your home but you own 50 chains? It’s a valid question, I can’t even be mad at that,” Minor stated, before explaining, “It’s because of the collective trauma we all have.”
Derek remembers reading that in the 1800s, a newly freed slave would often rent an expensive buggy and ride around the city. They would spend money on that to look good. This is the same mentality that people have these days when they grow up poor and fall into money.
“When you’ve been dehumanized or poor for so long, you think the outward is what’s most important.”
He continued, “A white guy might wear crusty New Balances and oversized khaki’s because his confidence comes from the millions he has in the bank. We [Black people] use consumerism to boost our ego from the trauma we’ve experienced.”
Overall, Minor says his goal is to inspire people. He said anyone can go to WeOwn.com and buy a t-shirt, use his resources, and get free stock with the Robinhood app. He also wants people to be informed of our rich Black history, especially people from within the own community that may not know.
“I just want to highlight some of the unsung heroes in history. I never knew how much they helped build this country,” he said.
“Charles Richard Patterson was one of the first automobile makers. He was a runaway slave years before the Emancipation Proclamation. He became a blacksmith, and did so well he took over the business. Then in 1902, he started making car parts with his son Frederick establishing what became some of the first automobiles thanks to his father’s efforts. From a slave to making cars, you can do anything.”
After Black History Month, he’d like to do a monthly focus on local Black business owners.
“There are people doing amazing things today. I’m going to be doing this at least the next year and we’ll see what the following year looks like.”
At the end of the day, what Derek most wants is to see people making changes because of his kick. The most rewarding thing would be to see messages that say:
“I went to your IG/website and it gave me the courage to start my own business. Or I went to your website and bought stock in Tesla.”
“I want to see this happen. Take that car note and put it in the stock market and watch your money build that way,” said Minor.
Lastly, this venture is not stopping Derek Minor from creating music. If anything, it’s helping him settle where he wants to go.
“Starting to land on where I want my next album to go and part of this is inspiring it. I want to encourage people here on out and I think I’ve done a good job telling people what the problem is and now I want to focus more on the solution,” he said. “I understand we can’t talk about the solution without the problem. But, I’ve been so inspired by studying history. I want to be a part of the change.”