Gregory D. Allen
In my efforts to educate people about the use of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) or SUSU savings accounts, I am often confronted with the opinion, “people aren’t ready for that”. What many of them are trying to say, but most won’t is that “black people aren’t ready for that” and to some degree they may be right. Since the principals of ROSCA or SUSU saving relies on individual integrity, honor and trust many believe that these are values that most Blacks do not possess. They argue that it is impossible to teach a cultural principal in an environment where there is no real culture. That in order to understand the ideals associated with community saving you must first feel a part of that community. The truth is that for those who try so hard to separate themselves from the community this process may indeed be an exercise in futility.
In his landmark book The Mis-Education of The Negro first published in 1933 Carter G. Woodson wrote; “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions”. Because so many of us have been lead to believe that in order to be successful you must follow the leads of your previous master, we tend to disregard what has worked for others for hundreds of years. While we study and attempt to immolate the actions of what we perceive to be successful in America, immigrant entrepreneurs study us (African-American) to learn how to exploit our limited knowledge of self preservation. We see evidence of this in urban communities across America where immigrant entrepreneurs have begun the process of building business empires in the heart of Black communities.
My greatest level of despair arises from those whom would otherwise be considered enlighten. Black intellectuals, financial planners, credit advisors, educators, clergyman and political leaders, all seem to have learned their lessons well. Goodson also wrote; “the large majority of the Negros who have put on the finishing touches of our best colleges are all but worthless in the development of their people”, to which I must agree if prior dialoged is to be a gauge. You see these are the very people we spoke of earlier; those attempting to separate themselves from the community not contribute to it.
There is however hope for those who recognize that if in fact the American financial system intended you be something other than a 987 billion dollar cash-cow it would have happened by now. Those who recognize that not everyone can or wants to move to the suburbs and who value the communities they grew up in. Those who do not have 730 credit scores, multiple bank accounts, lines of credit or access to the capital they might need to make home or car repairs, pay school tuition, or buy a new car. Those 70% of Georgians (most of whom live in urban neighborhoods) who are considered unbanked or under banked. Some of the thousands who stand in line at check cash centers, or pay-day-loan offices almost weekly to pay astounding amounts to cash a check or get enough money to make it until the next pay-day. These are the people who need to know how ROSCA or SUSU saving can change their lives.
You see, I am not interested in serving those who believe they have made it but, rather those who want to make it and make a difference in the process. If your role is to impart information to those who are ignorant, but I must pay your membership dues, or join your group, or donate to your cause in order to deliver that message, it is my personal belief that you should reconsider your purpose. Good news and information that can help others can be priceless. Just as immigrant entrepreneurs have learned to exploit the financial wealth of urban communities, so too will underserved, poor, disenfranchised people learn that by pooling their resources with others they can live their dreams.Loading Likes...