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The area known as "Black Wall Street" started as 40 acres of empty land. Within a few years, it was a nascent metropolis and a living testament to Black Excellence. So what happened to it?

The Biggest Threat to Black Wealth Is White Terrorism

You know what I love?

The American Dream.

Maybe that’s a surprising thing to hear me say, as I so often use this blog as a platform to criticize our current system and express deep cynicism about many aspects of American life. But nah, man! I adore that shit. Devoid of the context of its shortcomings, stripped of its more recent associations with a generic sort of upward mobility, in its pure and original form, the American Dream is actually one of my very favorite things.

James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “the American Dream” in his book The Epic of America. He describes it as…

“… That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

– James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America

Freedom, liberty, independence, opportunity: that hopey changey stuff. I believe all the star-spangled buzzwords so often used to describe the national character of America are attempts to capture the light reflected by the glittering facets of this idea: that America is a place where everyone can rise to become their best selves, and that those best selves have equal value despite their differing contributions.

Like I said, I love and treasure this idea. And it’s because of that love that I taste such bitter disappointment in its failure. Nothing stings like seeing something fail when you really, truly believe in its inherent goodness. In the famous words of Tyra Banks: “I have never in my life yelled at [an idea] like this. When my mother yells like this, it’s because she loves me. I was rooting for you. We were all rooting for you. How dare you?!

… Yeah. That’s how I feel about the American Dream in practice.

It’d take a galling amount of ignorance to fail to see the major cultural, political, and socioeconomic realities that make the American Dream more attainable for some than others. In this context, you can talk about the struggles of any number of marginalized groups—women, people with disabilities, queer folks, immigrants, minorities, and “out groups” of all kinds. But today we’re talking about race.

There are many systemic, structural, institutional impediments to black excellence. Today we’re looking at an itty bitty pie slice of history that serves as an example of how white people have used terrorism to destroy black wealth. You know—a lighthearted topic, best served at lunch, with tea and cucumber sandwiches!

We’re going to talk about the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. For the sake of readers who may be sensitive to this topic, let me clarify that our focus today is specifically on the economic impacts of violence. That necessitates acknowledging the existence of slavery, segregation, lynching, false sexual assault allegations, and other upsetting topics. But I see absolutely no reason to repeat racist language or include detailed descriptions of physical violence to meet that goal. Gonna go ahead and miss y’all with that.

Also, we’re gonna keep this history lesson fast and shallow, because I ain’t any kinda damn historian! (Plus if I send Piggy another 5,000 word article for editing, she will divorce me.) We’re going to leave a lot of interesting stuff out, and sum up historical context with our signature house laziness. Slake any remaining thirst on the additional reading links provided at the end!

(You may have heard in the news that Donald Trump selected Tulsa, Oklahoma as the site of his first campaign rally of 2020—on Juneteenth no less! If you aren’t familiar with why this pissed so many people off, get excited! This article is about to shellack you in fresh knowledge like rejuvenating dewdrops on the morning flower!)

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No one will ever give you a $50/hr gig because you quietly accepted enough $15/hr gigs.

Ask the Bitches: My Boss Won’t Give Me a Contract and I’m Freaking Out

We have another reader question today.

On its face, it’s a pretty straightforward question about working sans contract. But beneath bubble some pretty volcanic emotions about job security, class, and anxiety. Let’s get into it!

Our reader asks…

I was hired to write blog posts for a digital platform. I was offered $15 an hour and 20-30 hours per week, paid out once a month as a direct deposit. That was a year and a half ago.

Since then, my responsibilities have changed tremendously. Instead of writing a few blog posts per week, I also work on site maintenance and other freelancers’ blog posts. I feel like I’m more involved with the administrative side of the blog than some of the other freelance writers I’ve seen, but I can’t confirm this, as I have no regular correspondence with any of my peers.

I was told I was being hired as a freelance writer, and that there would be a contract to be signed. That contract still hasn’t come. I asked about it when I was first hired and the CEO said he’d get around to it and never did. I was getting paid, so I didn’t care enough to push the issue and eventually forgot. But now I feel less like a freelance content creator and more like a full-time member of the creative staff. I asked the CEO a month or two ago about the contract again, and he dodged me. Again.

The rational side of me knows that I’m well within my rights to renegotiate where I stand with this company. I want to stand up for myself. But every time I fire up the email draft, I get so physically ill I have to walk away. Just writing this makes me want to puke.

I feel like I’m biting the hand that feeds me by saying it’s not enough. I feel like if I ask and get an outright refusal, I’ll either be forced to stay and feel undervalued or leave and go back to Minimum Wage Hell. Worrying about it is taking a toll on my health. I feel like a mess and a fool and a bastard and a failure all wrapped up in one big blanket of anxiety and ennui.

According to The Creative Group’s 2016 salary guide, bloggers should be making $45k a year but that just seems insane to me. That’s not the kind of money people like me make. We make minimum wage where I come from and we like it. $15 an hour is unthinkable enough, but a salaried position? Benefits? That’s not stuff I or anyone in my family has ever had to deal with going back generations. I don’t know how to not be in poverty. No one ever told me that was an option.

I feel kind of ashamed seeing it all in writing, if I’m honest. I feel weak, like I should be able to figure this out on my own. But I’m so grateful that I don’t have to. I can’t tell you what it means to have someone in my financial corner. I’ve never had that. I wish I’d found you guys years ago.

-Claire

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What's your Lucky Charms methodology?

The Magically Delicious Intersection of Financial Discipline, Generational Poverty, and Marshmallows

What’s your methodology for eating a bowl of Lucky Charms? And in a related question: how’s your financial discipline?

RESIST.

Do you peck the marshmallows out first, like a marshmallow-loving chicken? Or do you eat around them, creating a cereal-free pleasure palace of marshmallows, swimming together decadently in their milk? Or do you dig in holistically, indiscriminately, with marshmallows and cereal intermingling freely, devil-may-care, eating whatever ends up on your spoon?

The answer could reveal a whole lot about your life, your personality, and the health of your personal finances. We know this thanks to a fascinating series of studies conducted on children eating marshmallows.

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