In addition to revealing raw emotion and intimate revelations about his family, Jay-Z packed his critically acclaimed 13th studio album, 4:44, with inspirational gems about economic empowerment. Ash Exantus, a financial expert and author popularly known as “Ash Cash,” has transformed the lessons in financial literacy from the album into a new book titled The Wake Up Call: Financial Inspiration Learned from 4:44 + A Step by Step Guide on How to Implement Each Financial Principle.
In the book, Exantus decodes the messages and offers readers a blueprint on credit management, entrepreneurship, collective economics, and smart investments. The overall purpose of the book is to empower the African American community to manage money more effectively and build generational wealth.
In the following excerpt, Exantus explains the correlation between financial freedom as a means to fight systemic racism and build political capital and power.
When Jay says Financial Freedom is our only hope he is not exaggerating. Even before #45 took office we began to see a resurgence of racism. Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Kalief Browder and the countless other injustices are examples of what happens when our collective power is not respected. When there is no real consequence for injustice then we are simply begging for mercy, and no one respects a beggar! The truth of the matter is that money is power! Those who control the money, control everything else… Politics, Schools, Business, Police, Community and everything else in between.
Just to be clear racism isn’t what the dictionary and the media want you to believe it is; which is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. The true definition of racism (as stated by Dr. Claude Anderson in his powerful book #Powernomics) is when one group holds a disproportionate share of wealth and power over another group then uses those resources to marginalize, exploit, exclude and subordinate the weaker group. That’s why when you turn on the television it seems like African-Americans are losing every-day! Because of systemic and institutionalized racism!
Without getting too deep into the history of black economics, we must realize that most Blacks have only been able to create ‘real’ wealth and financial freedom for the last 50 years – slavery lasted 223 years from 1640-1863, then reconstruction and Jim Crow laws lasted 102 years from 1863-1965. It wasn’t until the post-civil rights era that we began to see the tides change. And to be clear most of this was LEGAL and sanctioned by the government. For a more in depth look at the government’s involvement in wealth disparities and inequities please read “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein.
I can go on and on about how we got here but 4:44 is the first step in making things right. A recent report titled “The Road to Zero Wealth,” looks at the past 30 years of wealth accumulation across racial lines, as well as what the future will bring if current trends continue; it comes to the conclusion that by 2053, just 10 years after the country is projected to become majority non-white, black median families will own zero wealth and twenty years later, Latino median families will follow suit. White median families will continue to own six figures. The key words here are “If current trends continue!” That’s why it’s imperative that we get our collective economic lives together!
The following lessons in this book will give you a step by step guide on how to begin to create financial freedom for you, your family, and community. This is probably not the first or last time we will have this conversation and I can assure you that we have a steep mountain to climb, but if we all get on the same page then we can tip the scale and reach the mountain top faster.
You will learn about credit; what it is, how it works and how you can use it to build wealth. There is a step by step guide on how to buy real estate and the power it holds in the wealth creation process. We discuss appreciation and depreciation and how to spend your money wisely. We discuss starting a business, and creating multiple streams of income. We tackle spirituality and discuss how “This Spiritual S#@t Really Works” especially when it comes to your finances. You will learn about the importance of cooperative economics, how to pass down wealth to the next generation, and how to protect your ASSets through insurance, wills and trusts. This guide will give you the jump start needed to right the wrongs of economic inequality.
Check out Ash Cash’s personal finance book here.