Being Black in China comes with countless challenges. For some, money management is one of the biggest. There are multiple moving parts to consider when it comes to revenue streams, expenses and investment options. Luckily China is home to Black Wall Street, a group dedicated to encouraging our community to invest and take our collective financial literacy to the next level.
Real estate is a popular investment choice all around and especially for Black people in the continent and diaspora. It’s relatively common for older generations of Black people in the diaspora to own multiple homes, one in their current base and another back in the continent. DeShawn of Black Wall Street is an advocate of investing in real estate and recently held a seminar teaching its relevance to Black people in China.
Before we begin, DeShawn, what should Black people abroad know about the Black community in China?
I would say they should know there’s a prolific community of us everywhere. No matter what country you go to, you’ll see a Chinatown, Koreatown, or etc; and it’s no different for Black people. We have a community globally.
How would you describe the Black community in China? In Shanghai?
What does unity within the Black community mean to you?
Black unity means to me; A united agreement that financial self-dependence will be the liberation of our people. For people who want to truly unify the global Black community, the only tried liberator is ownership. We don’t have to ask for permission with things we own.
From here in China, we can see that investment in Africa is becoming more and more popular. The Black diaspora in China offers a unique collection of resources that can be communicated to the Black Diaspora outside China. Unity within the Black community should transcend geographic distances.
Black Wall Street is a powerful name, what does it stand for?
Black Wall Street is a group based on financial literacy and investment promotion that I came up with about two years ago. I’m a financial planner and from the US. Ever since I joined this industry I found a certain interest in Black Wall Street and what it represented in American History. For example, Black Wall Street in Oklahoma was a self-sufficient community that had its own banks, grocery stores, and everything a community needs not to depend on others. Before it was destroyed by the Tulsa Race Massacre it was one of the wealthiest African American communities.
We should bring that same business model to China and abroad. So I thought it would be a great idea to embody that with a group chat in Shanghai. We occasionally host workshops as well.. The Black-owned Andinet Directory is another tool for group economics in China and abroad. It’s commonly known as ‘China’s Directory for all things Black’. To date it has 208 listings of businesses, organisations, as well as physical and online social groups, all across 56 locations in China. Check out Black Wall Street’s listing here.
How would you describe the financial literacy of the Black community in China?
Poor to keep things simple. From my experience, we value spending things on items that don’t add value or mean anything significant as opposed to saving. In addition, there a culture of being cheap with ourselves. For example, we won’t hesitate to spend money on parties, traveling, and dinner but when it comes to paying for something like a financial consultation or hiring a personal trainer; we’re only interested in the free trial. Given the later, are things that will benefit us in the long term more than anything.
You encourage people to invest in real estate, how have you gone about that?
We recently held a real estate seminar which was birthed from discussion in our group on WeChat (China’s version of Telegram). One of the members approached me about going into detail about the topic and that prompted me to host a talk on the topic.
What change did you hope the real estate seminar will inspire?
I hoped to educate the audience and help them formulate practical steps so their words and goals can transcribe into action. Ownership is a global language. We as a community in recent history have failed in this avenue from not owning our culture and ideas. Real estate is one area where anyone can own it. I would recommend any specific country or market at this point, but if and when you are considering real estate, be sure to own it out right. Real estate also serves as a way to build generational wealth as property values increase over time.
Please describe the degree to which Black people in China can accumulate wealth. Feel free to answer for students, professionals or entrepreneurs or all of the above.
There isn’t a secret to accumulating wealth. 1. Spend less than what you’re making. 2. Save the excess. 3. Invest for decades at a time. 4. Review and Repeat. Wealth takes generations to build. If you’re looking for a wealth solution that takes 1-3 years or shorter, then you’re not looking to be wealthy.
Building wealth does not have to be a solo mission either. There are ways in which we can save and invest as a group to maximize returns. For example, Black people can buy property together, build businesses together, buy stocks together, etc. We have a long history of sharing finances to invest, for example, through Likelembas (Congo), Pardnas (Caribbean), Susu (West Africa), Ukob (Ethiopia), and so on. These associations are rotating savings clubs; members contribute a fixed amount at a fixed interval of time. At each interval of collection, one member receives the pool of the total sum. For instance, in an Ukob with ten members, everyone will contribute 1,000 RMB per month, the ‘savings pool’ is 10,000 RMB. This amount will go to a different member every month.
You’ve done some amazing things already, what does the future hold for Black Wall Street?
I would truly want to expand Black Wall Street into East Asia outside of Mainland China. I’d like to include a Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand division. There’s a whole community of people like us who are seeking financial literacy and a community that’s dedicated to it.