When I get something in my head to do, there is nothing that can stop me. I go all in. For the past twenty days, I’ve been on an Afro-minimalista journey. I’ve always known about minimalism, but my level of commitment to decluttering what was in my spirit, in my cupboards, and in my closets was iron-clad this time.
I was inspired by a For Harriet post on Afro-minimalism. I was equally inspired by the staggering data and prevalent stereotypes that identify black women as both materially rich and fiscally poor. Consumer report after consumer report show that Black women are brand loyal and lead the nation in establishing and setting trends. On the other hand, economic study after economic study conclude that this same demographic (with all of their bright and shiny things) will more likely than their white or non-black counterparts retire in poverty.
Thinking about the juxtaposition of these data makes me sad but equally determined to encourage brown girls like me to reconsider their financial priorities and reflect on the nature of their connection to their things, the pleasure derived from spending, and how it ultimately impacts their ability to build wealth.
I’m not saying this looking down at my people through the barrel of my nose.
My Afro-minimalista experiment has given me such food for thought and some eye-opening revelations about my own compulsion to buy and keep more than I need despite how well I manage my family’s financial short term and long-term goals.
It has also had me think how Black women could leverage our established influencer status for our financial gain and benefit. Could, we, as Black women, make minimalism the “it” thing to do?
I think the answer to that is absolutely yes. We’ve made strides in making thrifting en vogue, so we definitely have what it takes to move money mindsets to the left– toward abundance and freedom.
How about we push the envelope and begin to encourage wardrobe capsules-– a concept that focuses on pruning wardrobe to few basic, high-quality items?
How about we make wearing the same clothes over and over again a sign of wealth and smart financial thinking?
How about we make owning fewer things as cultural markers of status instead of ownership of lots of adult toys?
How about we label success as healthy relationships, healthy bodies, and positive net worth instead the trappings of success (cars, clothes, and partying)?
How about we support bloggers like Rosetta Thurman, founder of Happy Black Woman or myself who speak openly about the beauty, freedom, and benefits of this lifestyle?
How about we engage in heart-to-heart conversations with girlfriends that strongly link their self-worth to the size of their closets, the name of their car, or the type of handbag they carry on the arms and let them know that with or without those things they are enough?
I think the act of downsizing and decluttering is the ultimate act of financial and emotional liberation even if you commit to downsizing one room in your home or one month of your life. And since everyone is watching us and will follow any trend on which we bestow our blessings, let’s make it a trend that puts more money in our pockets, strengthens our families, and economically empowers our communities.
Frugal Feministas: What do you think? Could Black women pull off an Afro-Minimalista trend?