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3 FINANCIAL LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM THE JENA SIX

I have been watching with great interest, the case of the Jena Six.  For those of you who may not be aware of this high-profile case, it involves six young Black men in a central Louisiana town called, Jena.  This town of 4,000 residents has been the hotbed of controversy, demonstrations, and media from all over the world.  The issues began when a young Black man decided to sit under a tree on the school property, a privilege that up until that time, had been only reserved for white students.  Soon after he did this ‘unthinkable’ act, a group of white students did an unthinkable act of their own, and hung a noose from the tree to send a message to the black students of Jena, “You don’t belong here. Remember you place”.  This culminated in a fight where the 6 young black men are being charged with attempted murder and other charges in the beating of a white student and supposedly giving him a concussion (he later attended a party that evening).  There have not only been inflammatory statements by other white students but by the District Attorney in that area.  He was quoted telling a group of protesting Black students, “I could end your life with the stroke of a pen.”  Since then fights have broken out and tensions have flared bringing this small town into the spotlight for many weeks.

 In watching the case, I have thought about what this means for Black people in America and beyond.  And in doing so, I have thought about 3 things that can be extracted from this that can serve as principles of financial success.


Press Through Intimidation
I can’t tell you how many letters I receive from people who are intimidated by the financial situations they are facing.  Many times it is from single mothers who are doing everything within their power to maintain a proper life for their families.  Some are from widows and widowers who feel inundated by a swarm of financial issues that they never had to deal with before.  Like the Jena Six, find strength in numbers.  This would have never made the headline news if a few people weren’t willing to press through intimidation and make their voices heard.  Join a group at a local library, scour the internet for resources, let others know what you are looking for help in.  The sooner you face the issues at hand, the sooner you will overcome them.

Past Limits Don’t Have To Determine Future Success
The famous story of Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat on the bus is an example of taking drastic steps to reverse a trend.  The young man who decided to take rest under the tree that day supposedly did the same thing.  He forgot, whether consciously or unconsciously that Black people don’t sit under the tree at that school.  It would serve us well to ‘forget’ some things as well.  Maybe we need to forget that none of our other family members have made past high school, or that no one in my building is aggressively saving and investing their money.  That young man made a strong statement when he sat down to rest-  “I am not defining my future based on past limits.”

The Road to Freedom is Not Easy
Even in light of the negative press that Jena, LA has received in the past several months, it has been painfully slow in overturning some unjust actions.   The cause of these young men have been taken up by journalists of all backgrounds and persuasions.  Yet, there is slow response to the pleas and demands of the people.  This is something that we must learn when trying to change our financial destiny as well.  The road is not easy.  But hey, if it was, everyone would be doing it, right?  Sometimes in your fight for financial freedom your criticism will come from some of the most unlikely sources- family members, friends, co-workers, etc.  Don’t let that deter you.  You are taking the path less traveled, and making that path one that future generations can walk along as well.

The cry has gone forth to “Remember the Jena Six”.  I join in with it also.  However in doing, so take lessons for your own life and apply them to make great strides for your financial future.