I have always hated the limitations of not having enough money. In fact, I make a conscious effort to spend and give as if I have more than more than more than enough. However, after quitting my job in July 2019, taking down my retirement, and declaring that I would never work for anyone else again (unless I wanted to), I started to feel the reality of money coming to an end. My prayer, like so many other Millennials and Gen Zers, was to be able to use my GOD-given gifts and talents to support myself— and to have money while I build my brand as a new entrepreneur.
I spent the Fall and Winter of 2019 and the first several months of 2020 healing and resting and brainstorming and planning. But when the Coronavirus debacle hit in March 2020, all of my plans of implementation came to a screeching halt. Conferences were canceled, churches stopped meeting, and schools went virtual. I had to pivot, if I was to stay afloat.
Long and short of it, as my dollars turned into pennies and my excitement for the future became more and more clouded by anxiety, I received a text message from a friend asking me if I was interested in a money-making opportunity that would allow me to remain flexible with my time and less stressed with my energy. Since the verbiage of the text was an almost word for word match to the prayer I had been praying, I responded affirmatively. Soon after, I was introduced to the remixed concept of a sou sou. I gifted $500 to someone I didn't know and in 21 days, received a much needed blessing of my own.
Since then, I have been ON FIRE (pun intended) recruiting family and friends who I knew would benefit from such a blessing. And what I have learned has been both mind and life changing.
1. Unity Matters
I both studied and taught Ujima and Ujamaa as concepts within the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles). But participating in a sou sou showed me the power an unity of cooperative economics in practice—people freely giving and receiving from each other—pooling resources together to help each other meet financial goals. For several months, in the midst of a world-wide pandemic I witnessed the magic of Black unity and the potential it created for Black wealth. I kept hearing people talking about how regulations were about to change to prevent such an organized display of Black economic cooperation. Cashapp supposedly flagged accounts that used the word gift in the memo, and I started to see published opinion articles representing sou sous as scams or worse, illegal. Doubt and fear bubbled in the hearts and minds of people who considered joining one and members started having more difficulty “finding two people.” There were others who sought to capitalize off of the energy of the sou sou and concluded they could create and manage one by themselves. Poor management yielded bad results. Now, people are hurting. Relationships have been damaged. And the tide has changed from: helped Black people wanting to help Black people to hurt Black people wanting to hurt Black people. And though I lost more than I won in all of the sou sous I have participated in, I will not speak negatively of them because they showed me the magic and the power of Black unity in action—something we haven't experienced in a decade or more.
2. Trust Matters
I called a lot of people to tell them about the sou sou concept. Since I already had my two—I was making sure if anyone else needed help finding two, they would have it. And while many saw the vision and joined the movement, there were so many more who did not. Rejection after rejection, I got present to the fact that as a people, we have some deep-seated trust issues. We don't trust money. We don't trust opportunities to make money outside a 9 to 5, we don't trust our family, and some don't trust themselves with money or opportunities. These issues must be dealt with before we ascend to the next level— especially since we are going to need each other to get there. Dr. King inspired us when he said, “I may not get there with you, but we AS A PEOPLE will get to the mountaintop.” I believe that the only way that we are going to get to the mountaintop is working together, as a team, trusting one another despite our very valid experiences that condition us not to trust.
Presently, as more and more negative sou sou experiences are widely covered by different media outlets, I am sure people who declined the opportunity are happy they did—vivifying the skeptical part of themselves and reinforcing their proclivity to mistrust. In the short run, this is profitable because person didn’t "lose $100, $500 or even $1400." But if such a mentality continues, in the long run it may be more costly. I highlight this as a problem because trust is always better than mistrust—even if the trusting lose. If the sou sou/ blessing circles aren’t the way to financial liberation for Black people—it certainly resembles the way—and will require trust like we’ve never seen before. Trust matters.
3. Relationships Matter
When I first learned about the sou sou, I immediately went to my family and friends. I, no different from the average sou souer, wanted to share the blessings with them so they could feel the same goodness I felt… all of this Black love and Black pride and Black unity and Black power. Though my main (and first) sou sou community is transitioning from traditional building (gifting and everybody getting two) to a more lucrative opportunity that requires fewer people, I did encounter people in my family and friend circle who expressed discontentment and disappointment in not getting their blessing in the time frame it was originally articulated. I have had my share of raised voices, harsh (yet understandable) accusations, and even a bit of character bashing. And though there was a natural urging to defend my name and character, I was intentional about preserving the relationships that made me share the opportunity in the first place.
It pains me to see so much enmity and divisiveness over money. Now don’t get me wrong, no one wants to needlessly lose money—especially in these times; but we can’t afford to lose each other—especially over an amount of money that can be counted in less than a couple of minutes.
When I decided to leave Chicago in July 2019, I first told my family and friends. They supported me in ways I cannot repay in this life time. When I started my YouTube page to document my Quantum Leap Year journey, I told my family and friends, who subscribed to the channel and listened to the weekly videos as often as they could. When I started my blog, I shared it with my family and friends who read and commented (and prayed for my salvation because they disagreed with some of the ideas). When I published my first children’s book in June 2020, I my family and friends bought several copies and shared it with their family and friends—helping me to sell nearly 300 copies in the first month. Again when I discovered the power of the sou sou, I told my family and friends.
Upon further reflection, every advancement we have seen as a people has come from working together. That has not changed and will not change. As we enter into the last part of 2020 (one of the most powerfully creative years we’ve seen in our lifetimes) let us not be sucked into the negative forces of mistrust and division. Instead, let us continue to have faith in GOD, hope in the future and love for each other. Because at the end of the day, all we have is our family and friends (and GOD). And that is priceless.