OpinionGenerational Wealth: The Modern Day Underground Railroad

Editor Editor3 years ago8 min

“There was one of two things I had a right to: liberty or death. If I could not have one, I would take the other, for no man should take me alive. I should fight for liberty as long as my strength lasted. If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.”

  • Harriet Tubman

The statement “Generational Wealth is the New Underground Railroad” is a bold one. For some, it could seem a stretch to compare the two, although the parallels are undeniable. Let’s start with the history of the Underground Railroad, which was not actually a railroad at all – it was a secret network of routes and safe-houses that slaves used to gain their freedom. It’s easier for us to think of this as a lateral journey from point A to point B, although this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The road to freedom was riddled with so many unknown variables that required those on the journey to make hundreds of audibles. The expedition was treacherous to say the least, requiring an enormous amount of faith. If caught, those on the journey faced harsh punishment, sometimes death. Along the route, there were people who would have done anything to make sure that they did not make it, but at the same time there were few who also risked their lives to help.

Now, let’s compare this incredible trek to the modern-day journey of building generational wealth to gain financial freedom:

  • The society is structured in a way where building Generational Wealth can seem almost impossible. According to s recent Curbed article, “In 2016, millennials made up 32 percent of the home-buying market, the lowest percentage of young adults to achieve that milestone since 1987. Nearly two-thirds of renters say they can’t afford a home.”
  • There is no direct route to gain Generational Wealth, the journey requires constant audibles.
  • With the advent of social media, we are bombarded with constant images of people “living their best lives” by purchasing name brand items, traveling to the best resorts, and of course, driving that foreign car. If you post something about saving $100 per month, chances are likely that you won’t get too much engagement. This societal reality has transformed our minds to lose interest in creating incremental wealth. We want immediate satisfaction, which is not a characteristic of wealth-building.
  • Wealth is not created through a job, it is created through personal investment. For example, we cannot pass on our job to our children, although we can save capital from our job and invest those funds in the stock market or in real estate. Since the American education system is based on developing factory workers, these financial literacy gems are not taught in school. Just like those who went through the underground railroad, we have to learn by doing and experiencing, which is unconventional.
  • Harriet Tubman said “If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.” Today, there are many who do not want to hear about generational wealth as they are content with living in the moment, indulging in the infinite distractions of the 21st century, unbothered about the future of their children.
  • If a young couple without children ran away from slavery, they were actually providing freedom to their unborn kids. If they did not take the chance to run, then their children would inherit slavery. This concept rings true today – those who refuse to unshackle themselves from the “things” that hold them back from creating wealth, are now passing down the unfortunate situation of negative wealth to their children, making it exponentially harder for them to experience financial freedom.

The Takeaway:

In the 19th century, there were incredible sacrifices that needed to be made in order for a slave to realize their freedom, and there are parallels that can be made with the concept of creating generational wealth. Both require an extraordinary amount of resilience, and both have routes that are ever-changing. One thing that can be said for sure is that no matter what the obstacles are, it’s worth every risk just to taste that sweet nectar of freedom.



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