Stephen Smith was a black lumber merchant.
His business grossed over $100K in annual sales … in the 1850s.
By 1854, his estimated worth was over $500K.
That’s over $16 mill in today’s dollars.
Thomas Dalton owned and operated a clothing store in Boston that was valued at a half-million at the time of his death in 1883.
He was black.
Thorny Lafon started a small dry-goods store and later became a real estate dealer. When this black man passed away, he had amassed a fortune valued at over $400K in 1893 dollars.
The richest man who ever lived was Mansa Musa, the 14th century West African king. Dude was so rich his generous handouts wrecked the economies of entire countries.
And then there’s my favorite …
Sarah Breedlove, the daughter of slaves, became a millionaire in 1913.
Imagine telling her how the system is holding you down in 2021.
I can keep going.
You see, instead of crowding my subconscious mind with narratives about what I can’t do because of the color of my skin — can’t succeed in America, can’t figure out how to get an ID, can’t this, can’t that — I choose to learn about people who succeeded, who prospered, who demonstrated their greatness, despite racism.
I mean, if we “built this country”, then we can most certainly build businesses, build our skillsets, and build up each other.
But generally speaking, that’s not how things are going. Instead we are allowing ourselves to be driven insane by racism. Giving racist people (also known as idiots) the power to keep us from displaying our brilliance.
Yes, racism and oppression are real. (Though I REFUSE to identify myself as oppressed.) But if Sarah and Stephen and Thomas and Thorny could crush it while in the midst of overt, blatant, not-shy-about-it-one-bit kind of racism, then I have no doubt that we can thrive in the 21st century.
If someone doesn’t like you, or holds you to the lowest expectations as if you’re a toddler, all because of your skin color, shame on them.
If you let them stop you from doing what you want to do with your life … well, shame on you.
I have more to say about this topic on today’s Best Of 2021 episode with Dr. George Fraser.
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