Black lives – and finances – matter

Young Money completely backs the fight against institutional and individual racism, both at home and abroad. What has happened to George Floyd, and many other black people in the U.S. and UK in recent times, are multiple stains on our collective conscience.

The very fact that we even have to assert that black lives matter in 2020, when it is so self-evident that every black person has the right to live their life in a full and dignified way without fear of violence, discrimination, hostility or ignorant stereotyping, is a terrible indictment of the work we still have to do in rooting out systematic exclusion, unconscious bias and everyday aggression.

I’m painfully aware, as a privileged white woman, that Young Money Blog has not done enough to promote and support young black voices. I have also not done enough to highlight the very real economic inequalities and financial exclusion, cemented along racial lines, that we see all round us.

This is partly because Young Money has been a small-scale, organically-grown blog driven very much by one woman. For nine years, I have wanted to grow Young Money to a level where I can afford to give people from different backgrounds the opportunity to write about their experiences.

black lives
Photo by Clay Banks

The blogging and online media industry tends to reward people and firms who aggressively game the system. Sponsors and major corporations orients themselves towards those who tow the commercial line, essentially happy to push products and often suppressing their true views and values in the process.

I have tried to resist this corruption of web platforms so that Young Money can be independent and authentic. That is one reason I have sought independent funding for the blog via the likes of IPSE, Women in Journalism and other bodies in recent times, and will continue to do so.

It was also a major reason why I set up the Young Money Agency in 2016, so I could field work from companies who genuinely support the aims of Young Money Blog so I could effectively subsidise it without the need for compromising commercial influence on the blog itself.

The inevitable – and regrettable – shortcoming of this strategy is that the blog has come from an all-too narrow perspective and has not adequately reflected the sheer diversity of this generation’s financial experiences. This is particularly pertinent and painful when you consider the financial gap that exists between white and black people in the UK, with problems including but by no means limited to:

  • Ethnic minority customers being twice as likely to be denied a fraud refund compared to white customers
  • 60 – 63% of Black and Asian Britons having no savings, compared to 33% of White Britons
  • Black business founders more likely to have loan applications rejected than White business founders.
black lives
Photo by Donovan Valdivia

I now see that my previous approach is completely insufficient if I want YMB to truly represent a generation’s financial concerns and allow for the financial struggles of black lives to really come out.

Here are the actions I’m now taking:

  1. I’ll try to commission (and pay) more young BAME people to write for the blog in 2020 and beyond, because while I strongly encourage anyone to get in touch with me directly if they want to write editorially for YMB, this isn’t good enough: we have to be more actively inclusive.
  2. I’m giving full credit (and payment where possible) to black photographers and illustrators whose work is used on the blog.
  3. I’m also making it clear to anyone booking me for media or speaking opportunities in future that black and ethic minority contributors should be given a voice, and I’m ashamed not to have done this more routinely before now. Too often, I have appeared on all-white platforms that don’t represent the full spectrum of young financial experience in the UK today. We’ve made great progress on ending ‘manels’ (that is all-male panels) that don’t include female perspectives – now it’s time to do the same for all-white platforms at conferences, events, on TV and radio. This isn’t the whole answer and rooting out racism goes much deeper, I know. But I totally understand the need for young Black and Asian people to see more role models in the mainstream financial conversation.
  4. I’m also aiming to put funding towards schemes and organisations providing financial education and services specifically for BAME customers, with research ongoing so I can get the decision right. If anyone has any suggestions, please do get in touch –

George Floyd died over a $20 bill. This to me is symbolic not just of the generalised racism that black people still face today, but the financial barriers, discrimination and exclusion present in black lives today. For them, financial empowerment and independence is vital, even life-saving. That’s just one of many reasons why I will my try my best to step up and be an ally – just as we all should.

White people cannot be silently complicit. We have to commit to deep learning and listening, and above all, real action to improve black lives. We have to take responsibility for the part we’ve played in these inequalities and vow to do our bit to make them a thing of the past.

Main photo by Clay Banks – buy him a coffee if you appreciate it.

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