Pamela Capalad is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Accredited Financial Counselor™ and has been in the financial services industry since 2008. She founded Brunch & Budget to help people who felt ashamed or embarrassed about money have a safe and friendly place to talk about it and make real financial progress. Her mission is to make financial planning as affordable as possible for the communities who need it most.
She partnered with Dyalekt, an MC, playwright, and educator to teach hip hop and finance workshops to kids, teens, and college students across the country through their brand - Pockets Change.
Together, they co-host the Brunch & Budget podcast, where they discuss how personal finance & racial economic justice intersect. Through what they’ve learned in their work, they have started a group financial planning program designed for the needs People of Color called See Change.
Through their work, they focus on meeting people where they are in their journey. They take away the suits, the big desks, and the pretense of anyone being an authority figure in their educational programs, and in Pam’s financial planning practice.
We’re digging deep in this episode to tackle some uncomfortable topics including inclusion, accusations that DEI programs are “equally racist”, why it’s important to acknowledge privilege, and why equity doesn’t equal oppression of a majority group. Pam and Dyalekt bring unique perspectives, and approach the conversation with openness, and with a focus on education.
You don’t want to miss this!
What You'll Learn:
How identity and financial literacy intersect
How identity is based in activity and background
Different ways that identity conversations impact the youth of America
How specific code-switching actions are taught, not innate
How Pam & Dyalekt have incorporated music and hip hop culture with personal finance to empower marginalized groups
How programs that focus on DEI positively impact the financial community
Why it’s key to discuss race, culture, and upbringing
Why having a community, and seeing representation is critical
How to address privilege
Why it’s important to understand that equity does not equal oppression
Rianka: 00:00 Pam and Dyalekt. Welcome to 2050 TrailBlazers.
Pam: 00:04 Woo. We're excited to be here. Thanks for having us.
Dyalekt: 00:06 Thank you.
Rianka: 00:07 Yes. Oh my goodness. I think it's fair to say that one taboo that transcends many cultures is money. We just don't talk about it. So this season of 2050 TrailBlazers, we are talking about money and culture and how we can be better financial advisors, financial planners, financial teachers, coaches. When the person sitting across from us is of a different culture. You know, it's not until we actually have an experience with a client or a student or someone in a group learning session that we actually get a chance to learn. So my hope in this season is for us to learn through sharing experiences. And bringing on individuals who represent the beautiful mosaic that is America, which is why I am thrilled to bring on Pam and Dyalekt who are a dynamic duo on advocating for financial literacy, representation and just bring a different approach to what we see traditionally being done and the financial services space. So Pam and Dyalekt either feel free to jump in. What inspired you to switch it up? For example, the way you all teach some of your financial literacy programs, you add a layer of identity and understanding your identity and culture with financial literacy. What inspire you to just add that layer?
Pam: 01:34 Yeah, so I actually, the reason why I went into finance is because I was teaching financial literacy camps for kids in college. I actually have a literature degree, surprise. And I was teaching financial literacy camps in college and it changed my career path. That changed my life. It changed what I thought was needed in the world. I was really inspired by the financial literacy camps that I was teaching to bring this to as many people as possible. And that led me to go into the financial services industry to actually learn what financial services looked like and what financial planning looked like. And at the same time I was writing a financial literacy curriculum with a partner in California. We had done the financial literacy camps together and we both looked at each other and wanted to do the same thing. And so we did that for a number of years. On our own. We started by writing a curriculum. We ended up doing workshops and we actually brought in Dyalekt on a whim because we said yes to a workshop on career and job prep and we didn't actually have a workshop on career and job prep, but I knew that Dyalekt had one and Dyalekt's background is, he's a hip hop educator.
Dyalekt: 02:44 Yeah. See I started becoming an educator because I hated school. I thought that it was nonsense, and didn't work and didn't make a lot of sense. At the same time, my senior year of high school, I started hip hop MCing and I got into the whole hop culture thing. I got really involved in learning the history of it, learning the techniques behind it, learning the whole breadth of it. And I wondered why I didn't have the same passion for the things that I was learning in school despite feeling like I've always had a love of learning. And then I started teaching a few classes. I was invited by some of my friends, like, hey, we want some poets in MCs to come and do some stuff with the kids. And the first time I kicked a rap for a middle schooler, I, my eyes completely opened up about what I wanted to do as a performer because the types of questions they asked me and the type of detail that they went into really inspired me as a creative.
Dyalekt: 03:35 And I started using a hip hop pedagogy to teach kids. It's very similar to Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences where it's student centered and it's about using a artistic skill expression and the modes that we learn in to help kids figure out how they learn. And once they learn how to learn, they can learn anything. And the job prep program I had in particular was developed with a Jesse Alec of the Public Theater and Claudia Elec, theater extraordinary. And it was a hip hop Lincoln Douglas debate program that was based in job prep. So what would happen was we would learn rhymes, we would learn how to write, we would learn how to look. Folks in the eye, perform research and have this debate. But really we were learning how to code switch, how to handle curve balls, how to look someone in the eye and how to really just take control of any room that you're in. So after we would have the debate, we would then have a mock interview.
Pam: 04:32 Yeah. So we, we had this foster care program that needed this career and job prep program. We brought Dyalekt in and the program director basically said you're not allowed to come back without him. Yeah. She had no idea that the kids that she had been working with for so long, were performers, were poets were artists. And so Dyalekt was able to bring that out in them and all of a sudden job prep was relevant. All of a sudden interview skills were relevant because he connected it to things they are already interested in doing, things that they were already passionate about and he showed them how it could connect to practical stuff in the real world. And that's really where the the hip hop and finance started from was this this idea of how do we make this relevant, how do we, I know we're talking about culture today and I feel like hip hop culture is one of those cultures where you can, you create something out of nothing and it's all about giving.
Pam: 05:24 It's all about building community and there's, there's so much inclusivity in hip hop culture that we've been able to cultivate and create that in a space where where people are afraid to talk about it, and people have so much shame and embarrassment around money whether they know it or not, whether they, whether they are aware of the taboo or not. And as you mentioned earlier, so many communities and specifically communities of color say that it's rude to talk about money. You say that you shouldn't air your financial laundry and we try to make sure that the conversation is something that happens on a consistent basis so that we can start to actually help lift each other up
Dyalekt: 06:00 Yeah, and on the topic of culture, things like that. When you're saying like of communities of color are taught not to talk about money, not to talk about these things. You know, when I was a kid I was told not to send your food back at the restaurant because they're gonna spit in your food, and all of that stuff is gained. You know, it's not something that I consider actually important or intrinsic to our culture. I think that what happened is we were taught over these generations. Hey, don't read or else we're going to kill you, don't you go down this area or else someone's going to kill you, don't you get in the water, you better run from the dogs because dogs are trained to come and attack you. So we were given all of these things to create boundaries and those boundaries have lived long enough that now we have them for ourselves.
Rianka: 06:41 We talked about this before, just, you know, us, not on the podcast, but it's something I want to bring to the table that you're kind of touching on right now Dyalekt is the identity and financial literacy. And, just through the years, yes, we have these, these small mustard seeds of unfactual information has been planted in us such as don't talk about money or don't, you know, send your food back or you know, somebody will spit in it. Which has shaped our view on how we, how we view money, how, how we appreciate it or the lack there of, the value of it and if and if we are valued enough to have that money. So I know you had mentioned that you also have a, program, a six week program, about identity and literacy. And so talk, talk to us, about that and how from the listener's perspective, how they can kind of take what you're teaching and kind of apply it to what they are doing as practitioners.
Dyalekt: 07:49 You know, I also do a teacher trainings about that. So I've got a lot of specific instruction. What happened with this program was I wrote a, I'm a playwright and MC and all that stuff and now it's all tied together. So I wrote a play and album called Square Peg Syndrome about my story and my ethnic identity. I'm mixed race. My, my mother is black, my father was Jewish. I mostly identify as black because I don't have as much connection to that family. But because of my mixed identity in number of spaces, I've been a bit of a square peg wherever I go in round holes and not really feeling like I fit in. The play was about a bit of a true story where when I lived briefly in Pennsylvania, there was a race riot at my high school and I was caught in the midst of everything, and it's this play.
Dyalekt: 08:34 And then I have raps about it. And then the curriculum attached to it is about identity. Pam alluded to it a little bit earlier when she was talking about the hip hop thing. What I defined is that there were a few different ways that we identify with ourselves that affect our ability to have self efficacy and our literacy in particular such as cause that's what this program was focused on. And it's do you have, is your identity based in your ethnicity, meaning, your background, the things that you were from, or, that's one, is your identity based into your proximity, your surroundings, the place where you're at? You know, people always say, you know, you're raised by the village, all those types of things, or is your identity based in activity? The things that you do. And there are a number of ways in which we are improved and held back by them.
Dyalekt: 09:24 But the strongest one I've found is when you base things in activity and that's why hip hop culture is such a powerful thing. One thing that I think is really beautiful about hip hop as a black man is that, you know, we can say that jazz was taken from us. We can say that rock and roll was taken from us, but we can't say that hip hop was taken from us because we already gave it. It was something that was given and shared with everyone, and you can't steal what is shared over the course of the program, I would have students write about how they feel about those different aspects of their identity, what they connect to strongly and what they would like to see. And what's been really beautiful about it is once kids connect to something that really makes them feel like who they truly are, aw you will be amazed at how gregarious and verbose and articulate they can become.
Dyalekt: 10:16 Even the ones who would claim that they're not writers at all. I, you know, one of the programs I was, you know, back in Saint Croix working with some incarcerated youth and I had this kid tell me after being really smart and sounding like he was all, had a lot of stuff together, that he was illiterate. And I had him, I put on some beats and I had him kicked some freestyle raps for me after, you know, some instruction and some work. And I wrote down his raps and read them back to him. And he was blown away by how intelligent he sounded. And, this was a kid who didn't want to perform at all, ended up writing raps for the other kids, had to perform because one of the other kids was in court the day of the performance. And the next time, not to like put a super happy ending on this, but I'm really proud of this one. Even having a little bit to do with this. The next time I was on the island and I saw him, he was not incarcerated. He had just enrolled in college.
Rianka: 11:09 Wow. So I think this speaks directly to not everyone learns the same way. And sometimes when, when we are told things for so long, we start believing them.
Dyalekt: 11:21 Yes, yes, yes. That is all the truth. Oh Man. Ah, and that same program, I had a pair of kids who, they were twins. They were amazing, amazingly talented and their rap names were the evil twin and the evil twin, because their whole life they've been told they were evil, so they decided to be the best at it.
Rianka: 11:41 Oh. And so they, they're going to say like, okay, you, you have said that I'm evil. Okay, we're going to flip this. Yeah, we're going to make it our name and we're going to profit off of it. I love it.
Dyalekt: 11:55 Yeah. Well that, that's what we do. Right? I feel like that's one of the really interesting things about marginalized cultures. I know like from black folks in particular, cause you know, that's who I've been around. But like I feel like a lot of marginalized cultures do this. They give you a, what is the yield, give you lemons and you make lemonade. And that's a pretty good album, right?
Rianka: 12:13 Hmm. Hey now, oh, let, let me, let me stay focused. Cause you know, I'm a huge, I'm the president of the beehive in, in, in Maryland, so, so let me try to stay focused here. But yes, we do, you know, take lemons and make lemonade and all in all flavors as well. And so Pam, you know, Dyalekt, I'm loving what you are doing. As far as bringing hip hop to the forefront and, sharing that people have a different way to learn. And just like you mentioned hip hop, the culture in itself is inherently inclusive, is community focus is entrepreneurship led. I 100% agree with you and Pam, you've kind of taken that same philosophy of meeting people where they are with, with your practice, with your firm and other programs that you're doing, such as like the Day Job Army and, and See Change and, and all of that. So talk to me about that.
Pam: 13:15 Yeah, totally. So we actually have a number of programs. It started with Brunch and Budget and Brunch and budget is what it sounds like. We have a meal and we talk about your finances and so I do sit down with people for a meal and we have a financial planning conversation while we eat. And the thing is, it started because I was talking to a lot of friends and people were coming up to me at parties and asking me questions about IRAs and credit card debt and credit scores and saving and investing and all of this stuff. And I realized that they were coming up to me at these parties because they didn't know where else to go and they afraid to talk about it. I literally had a friend grabbed me at a party once and she said, Pam, I know I need your help and I'm so afraid to look at my credit score.
Pam: 14:00 And I said, do you want to do it over brunch or something? And her whole face completely changed. She said, yeah, let's do it. And it was something where I realize that people are not comfortable with this, so how do you put them in a setting where they can feel more relaxed? Where we, we take away the stressfulness of the conversation and we're able to really sit down and figure out what they really want, what they really want out of life. And really like you said, I feel like having brunch with them is meeting them where they are. Having a meal with someone and breaking bread with them and finding common ground is literally meeting people where they are. We take away the suits, we take away the big desks, we take away, we take away the pretense of anyone being an authority figure in this conversation, right?
Pam: 14:42 And we're just two people having a conversation. And that's really where brunch and budget came out of. And I use that approach as much as possible in my financial planning practice to really have an understanding of, you know, how people identify what people's goals and dreams are. You know, what's their money, no object thing that's kind of keeping them going. I think that's been such an important part of of how we've created our core values within Brunch and Budget. And one thing that I've found in that I've learned working with clients is about half of my Brunch and Budget clients are people of color. And I found that I was having to plan for them differently and I was having to plan for them in ways that I never learned how to plan for people. When I was doing CFP coursework, when I was working with people in wealth management and what I found was that a lot of my clients of color were first generation immigrants or first generation college students, first generation with a professional salary, often all three.
Pam: 15:43 And so they were dealing with something that for the first time in their families they had resources and they had income that could help support other family members. And so they have those family obligations and they have those financial obligations and they were more likely to have student loan debt and they were less likely to have home ownership in their family, less likely to expect an inheritance. And so these first generation college grads, first generation professionals in their family, were sending money back home, were helping parents with rent, were taking on the family cell phone plan. Were having to prepare for their parents' retirement. And that's a whole different level of planning that I was not prepared for when I worked in wealth management. And it's something where I realize people have ignored or the financial services industry in particular have ignored or taken advantage of people of color and other marginalized communities in a way where they've completely shut them out.
Pam: 16:37 Right. We've talked about, I think we've talked about how important it is to meet people where they are and how important is to be inclusive. And I feel like you can't be inclusive unless you're specific. And if you are not specific and you say that you're serving everyone, then you're really serving no one. Right. And so this is where the idea for a See Change previously called Dead Day Job Army, we changed the name of See Change. Because we, we wanted to make it more clear what we are helping people do. We were helping people see change in their financial lives. We wanted people to see change in, in their generation. And so See Change is a group financial planning platform specifically designed to meet the needs of people of color. And we found that we create a space where people of color to feel like they were included and to feel like the conversation was about them was for them and was by them. I think that's something that is so important when we talk about diversity and equity and inclusion is how are we including people, cause we've also gotten feedback and I've gotten feedback in the financial planning community that See Change is racist. And people have told me straight up in Facebook groups that, hey, how is See Change any different than Jim Crow? People have literally said that to me.
Rianka: 17:55 Pam, I, I want us to actually tackle this if you two are comfortable with that because I see it as well. And, I in a very positive light, again, this is, I believe 2050 TrailBlazers is a teaching platform. So that I saw a lot of things in Facebook groups as well. And Pam, you and I share similar same communities. And so I, I started to see that as well. And from what I saw, it was like people needed a place to be heard. And there wasn't one. There need to their need it to be constant and consistent communication around diversity beyond gender, which, which financial services has stopped at. Which is again, why I'm bringing forth 2050 TrailBlazers. And, and what I'm feeling is that people are filling excluded. When we do talk about See Change or when we do speak about, racial diversity or various cultures and, first generation immigrants, first generation college graduates. And it's like, well, what about me? And I, I would like to dig a little deeper from an educational standpoint on why it's so important for us to have a platform like 2050 TrailBlazers and talk specifically beyond gender and talk specifically to race, culture, upbringing, how you have, identified yourself growing up, learning, and then also See Change. Right? And, and, and the importance of having a community, such that you see the representation, and people who look like yourself.
Pam: 19:50 Yeah. I think one of the things, one of the ways that I remember addressing that particular comment was, well, speaking of gender, the YWCA doesn't allow men in their facilities, do you feel like the YWAC is sexist? And I think that when people, one of the great things that I've heard in the past is when people who have never been oppressed encounter equity, they all of a sudden feel oppressed. Equity feels like oppression to them because for the first time they have had to potentially seed a little bit of privilege that they've had and, and give it and give that space to somebody else to be able to share their story for the first time or to be able to share their struggles for the first time. And truly, and honestly, it's not something that's easy to hear. I know my privileges as an Asian American woman, I understand my privileges as someone who grew up middle class and to hear how people have struggled who didn't have those same privileges.
Pam: 20:52 It's not easy to hear. And I feel like the, I find myself as an Asian American in this interesting in between space where I, you know, I have privileges, my being Asian American by being middle class, but I also have struggles that women of color have struggles with. And so it's interesting to be able to be on both sides of it and hear both sides of it. And the thing that I've really learned about making sure people feel included is that I have to do more listening than talking in spaces where I know that I usually get to be the one to talk.
Dyalekt: 21:31 Yeah. And you know, there's the other end of it in that we are, you know, I was talking about it before about us not really knowing these things, but we've also been intentionally taught very limited and misleading things about the history of this country. And how it is pertained to race. The idea that a single company could equate with Jim Crow, which is institutionalized slavery. Is Pretty Ludicrous if you know the history. I know the history because I studied it. You know, when I was in college, I took my, I originally had a black studies minor and took it and made it my major. As I got more and more interested and involved in these things, and I know that a lot of other people don't, so I have a lot of empathy for them and those situations that I, I tried to be real patient as I teach it, but when you learn the actual entire history of what has happened in this country, economically race is inherently tied to it. It's like you can't, you can't pull them apart. It's inextricable,
Pam: 22:26 You can't talk about economics without talking about race because that's how the system was built.
Dyalekt: 22:31 Well, and the one big point about racism and race as an idea in this country that I really try to get across to people is that it's not really a passionate, in my heart. I hate these people kind of thing that has grown from that in certain circles, but it's a byproduct of a cold hearted, calculating decision about money. Race as an idea, as a construct, and racism as an institutional practice in this country is a cold hearted thing about money. And when we understand that, we can take away a lot of our personal issues and personal experiences that we've had. You know, in my own life. The reason that I don't have a lot of contact with the Jewish side of my family is they didn't like my black mom and my dad died when I was young and they've sort of just eased their way out of our lives.
Dyalekt: 23:19 Partially because they were immigrants to this country and they saw that black people were treated worse. They saw black people. I had terrible stories about them. They had their own struggles and didn't want to be associated with it. We all have our own struggles. You know, one thing about the white folks, I don't think that life is easy for y'all. There are no crystal stairs for most of us. And it's all, you can see it in the, the bullies in school when folks say anything because they don't want to get theirs too. And that grows into a national issue, especially when we have no understanding of all of the background of what comes in there.
Pam: 23:55 Yeah. And I think one thing to go back to a Dyalekt was saying about struggle is that no one is saying that people have not had struggles in their life and no one is saying, Oh, you've never struggled. That's what privilege is. And I think when we talk about white privilege and when we talk about racial privilege, what we mean is you have had the privilege to not have race be one of the things that you have to struggle with. And I think that's an important distinction is everyone has had hard times in their lives and we want to acknowledge that and we think it's really important. But I think it's also really important to acknowledge specific struggles that have been created by institutions and systems based on race and racism.
Rianka: 24:35 Yeah. I'm struggling talking about this because one, it's uncomfortable, right? It's really uncomfortable to talk about this. But yet we have to be comfortable
Pam: 24:45 Being uncomfortable.
Rianka: 24:46 Being uncomfortable. Absolutely. And so again, so some things again that I just want to address is that, diversity scholarships, right? And this is coming up a lot in the financial service, industry as well. Just, you know, diversity scholarships are coming. Up for the various conferences that are happening over the summer and the fall. And, what I am noticing is that white men are just saying, Hey, this is racist, but like, well, what about me? And, you know, and I think it goes back to the, well, I have struggles as well. And, and so I'm trying to figure out how to address this when this comes up because I'm not saying because I mean, if you come from a low social economic background, I mean that can affect us all. It doesn't matter what race you are. So yeah, so you could be a first generation college graduate and be white. You could be, you know, come from a low socioeconomic broken family home, and be white. And so it's like how do you kind of like distinguish?
Pam: 25:58 I think that especially when it comes to scholarships and the goal of scholarships in general is what is the intended outcome of the scholarship, right? Because there are plenty of merit based scholarships that are not based on race and that are not based on bringing more diversity. But if the goal of a diversity scholarship is to bring more people of color in the room, then I feel like that that is something that is worth stating head on. And I understand what you're saying too and I've heard the same thing about what about me, right? Like you said, what about me? I struggle with money too. I have money problems myself and it would be nice if I could have access to that scholarship and I think it comes back to the goal of the scholarship is to get more people of color in the room and also to acknowledge that more people of color tend to have, tend to not have access regardless of what their financial struggles are.
Pam: 26:54 And I think if we go back to what the intention of the scholarship is, the intention of the scholarship is to bring light to the fact that not a lot of people of color in this industry. Right. And if, if we're talking about race and we're talking about making things more inclusive, then you have to be deliberate about it. I feel, I think about this too, I'm in the process of hiring right now. And I talked to a lot of people who are saying that they would hire more people of color, but they just don't know where to find them. They just don't apply. And I think this also goes back to being intentional and deliberate about who you want in the space. When it comes to scholarships, when it comes to hiring, what I found is that when people say that, you know, people of color just don't apply and qualify, people of color just don't apply is their networks are all white networks.
Pam: 27:46 Their networks do not include people of color in them. And so I feel like there's a lot of, there's a lot of intentionality and like needing to be deliberate when it comes to bringing more people of color into the profession. Diversity scholarships is one way to do it. We've, you know, we've talked about hiring practices and things like that and I think that when we try and address a problem like this head on instead of ignoring it and just like letting the cards fall where they may, then we get a situation where 93% of CFPs are white. Right. And I think that's something that needs to be addressed head on in a way that it was also intentionally addressed over generations. And we don't feel it now because we only see the results. We didn't see the seeds that were planted 20, 30 years ago to get us to this point.
Pam: 28:32 We only see the fact that it happened. And I think that we're at this transition point right now in this turning point where we have to plant the seeds. So in 2050, right when we look at that year and we talk about 2050 TrailBlazers, then it's just how it is. There is just a lot of people of color in the industry. Those generations might not even know the genesis of it. And so we need to plant the seed and it's gonna feel a little uncomfortable and we know that we have to be deliberate and intentional about it. And there's a lot of people who had access before who may have a little less access now that are definitely going to feel left out and are definitely gonna want to push back. And I get that. There are lots of places that I don't have access to and I shouldn't have access to because of the privileges that I have.
Pam: 29:19 And I'm going to let go of that. I think one of the things I think about all the time is, this Chinese American Dad sued Harvard for affirmative action practices. And this I think goes back to intentionality and being deliberate and generations who were not there when the seed was planted, right? Affirmative action has by in large benefited white women and Asian Americans the most. And so we had this Chinese American Dad who has benefited from affirmative action in the past and now his kid maybe or maybe did not get into Harvard because he was Chinese, because there are enough Asian people in Harvard, right? Affirmative action worked. And so the thing that I think about when it comes to planting that seed and being deliberate is really, really staying in that space and really staying strong about the fact that we know that this is how change happens. And we know this, how progress happens is there's going to be pushback. It's going to be controversial because we're doing something that hasn't been done before. And I think that's super important to acknowledge
Dyalekt: 30:25 and on the concept of free handouts and giving people stuff, you know, that's how we make everything by sharing things. People have this aversion to whatever they think is like socialism or whatever. But I truly believe that capitalism can be the same thing in terms of being something that we share. I think of capitalism as a circle. I make something and I sell it to you. And then you take that so that you can make something different and then sell it to the other person at all, comes back around to me and we're all sharing at a number of points in history. People have broken that circle and taken things off to the other side. And what a lot of these companies are doing and people who are providing scholarships is they're trying to make up for those mistakes that we had in the past. Like it's not mistake, those terrible deliberate actions that were made in the past. You know, we don't always get reparations for the things that are institutionally done, but when we are given those things work out, and it is for the benefit of society as a whole. When the Japanese were interned after World War Two, they were given reparations money. And that's why we have Japantown in LA.
Pam: 31:30 Yeah. Reparations is a thing that happens.
Dyalekt: 31:33 I mean, in general for folks. But, again, going into the history of the black Americans in the United States, we have not been given recompense and have been further marginalized, demoralized, criminalized. I mean when we have started our own businesses, we've been fire bombed and forced into submission. So a number of opportunities for generational wealth were taken away and now we're trying to rebuild these things even as like continuously people of color are not given credit or monetarily or even in verbal form for the things that we create. I think a lot about the people who invented a lot of the current slang on Vine and on Twitter and how I see companies now putting on fleek all over the sweaters and the young black lady who invented the term is nowhere to be found in any of the credits.
Rianka: 32:27 Snapping my fingers over here. Yes. Oh goodness. I feel like we can have a whole conversation just about this and just honestly the historical, the historical makeup of money, the embedded, honestly racism that, that, that has shaped America to, to what it is today, if we want to be bluntly honest. And I, I dunno, maybe that can be another conversation over the summer where we can just truly dig deep and just give the listeners a historical money lesson and so they can see the seeds that were planted many years ago so they can have a better understanding of why we are continuing to have this conversation and why it's just so important. So let's, let's pin that, for sure for later. And so, Pam, I wanted to transition back to, something that you shared with me, with your, with your upbringing and you kind of alluded to it before through your teaching. And, and when you were teaching students in, in college. But you know, part, part of what your story that you shared with me personally is that you immigrated, and, and, and moved to United States when you were two years old. And you are Filipino and Chinese and you were, you know, raised, in the Philippines and, and do I, am I remembering correctly that you go back and visit?
Pam: 33:50 Yes. Yeah, yeah. I've, I brought Dyalekt a couple of times as well. And it's interesting. So yeah, I am, I am an immigrant. I'm not even first generation. I moved here when I was two, so I'm very Americanized, I feel. And what was interesting, I'd never thought about my Filipino and Chinese heritage being mixed because in America, if you're any kind of Asian or just Asian, right. When really Asia is a big fricking continent and there's tons of countries and tons of classism, and colorism and racism that happens within those cultures. And it was really interesting to bring Dyalekt to the Philippines for the first time and to meet my Filipino Chinese family and to see that. What did you say exactly, you said?
Dyalekt: 34:36 Yeah, that the a, in that setting, the Chinese people were the white people of the area. I learned this when I asked them about, we passed a Chinese school and I was like, oh, a Chinese school. That's like, is that like a German school in America? What's that? And they were like, no, no, that just means it's a good school.
Pam: 34:51 Yeah. Yeah. So a lot of these like literal cultural things I never noticed as a kid and I never really thought about, especially because I mostly grew up in America. I would go visit in the summers and things like that. But to really start to see my family culture through a lens of, Oh the Chinese side of the family is celebrated and the Filipino side of the family is either not talked about, not really acknowledged or kind of talk down about, we have, colorism is a big thing in the Philippines. I mean in a lot of Asian countries there's skin whitening, soap and skin whitening cream. And the idea of being lighter is, is more valued when you look at who the flight attendants are and when you look at who the cashiers are that are hired in stores and the people who are front facing and customer service facing, they're mostly all light skinned.
Pam: 35:41 And I never noticed that until I was an adult and came back and saw that. But one thing that I do remember is that when I was a kid that my cousins who were darker, were told to not play outside and were told to not be in the sun because they would only get darker and that wouldn't be attractive. And that's something that I, I have cousins who still carry that with them today. And I think that's something that I never really thought about or noticed until I was an adult and started seeing how pervasive colorism and racism is in a lot of Asian countries.
Rianka: 36:13 Yeah. I think again, like colorism just transcends so many different cultures. Which is true. And going back to what you had mentioned, Pam, Phuong is, she was on episode two I believe when she shared very similar to the term, the Asian American Pacific Islander or AAPI where, and, sharing a quote here that I'm taking off of the 2050 TrailBlazers Instagram, she says, I think AAPI is used now because it includes more communities. The term Asian American came out of organizing and forming solidarity between the different Asian American groups. Back then they worried that the needs of specific groups will be masked and hidden. It's interesting to look at the history of the term, which is so true because now just like you said, Pam, like because you were, pretty much raised in America is like, Oh, I'm Asian American. You didn't see the difference between a Filipino or Chinese until you actually went back. And so the needs of specific this, this specific needs Filipinos or Chinese or Vietnamese here in America is kind of like, honestly, it's kind of like the black culture when you hear I'm black, right? I am black. Me as in Rianka, I'm black, but I'm also Hispanic as well, but, but I'm black, I'm biracial, but I'm black. You see what I'm sayin'?
Rianka: 37:44 And so it's like you're Asian American. But do, but you're a Filipino and Chinese. Right? So I, from this identity thing, and I know we're kind of going off tangent here, but from an identity thing, it's, it's real, right? And it's, it's just like who, who am I and how do I, present myself to the world. And also going back to Dyalekt, what you mentioned is like, it also kind of can bleed back into how we think about ourselves, our identity and how we deal with money.
Pam: 38:17 Oh yeah.
Dyalekt: 38:20 It's, it's, it's so ill, you know. The way that we see money in the, the two sides of my family, you know, we had generational, wealth in, the Jewish side of my family and there was a lot of conversation about it and we're open about it. And in the black side of my family, we don't talk about money. And that's, we were talking about before, you know, we're taught not to in all these ways and the ways it comes to a head is often heartbreaking. I remember when my aunt died who was like the grand mother matriarch of the family and her daughter didn't have enough to pay for a funeral. And there was a scramble and there were arguments and fighting and people who are still not okay talking to each other about the way that the money brought in the situation, which is the worst thing possible. We all die and dying is always sad, and losing family members, that always sucks. It doesn't matter. We know that that's one thing privilege can't protect you from. But the one thing that privilege does allow you to do is to mourn, to grieve. And I noticed that and that's like such a heavy thing that is indicative of all of the things that folks lose in this system where we've been cut up and kept apart and marginalized.
Rianka: 39:34 So is it important for advisors to understand various cultures in order to best serve their clients?
Pam: 39:42 I think so.
Dyalekt: 39:43 I think it's important for everybody. Like, yeah, I've been loving the diversity thing. Things that I've been seeing in like a film and, and teaching. And acting, like everywhere I see folks doing things, they're like, wait, we do need to include all of these pieces of everything. Because really I think the melting pot thing is beautiful. I don't think we've done it. I think you know, a couple of places have tested it out and dip their toe and whenever anybody has tried it in the slightest little bit. I think that it's been a good thing. I, it breaks my heart when I hear a lot of black folks say that integration didn't work and we should've stayed segregated because the reality is we never really had full integration in this country. It hasn't been tried out and that's the thing that really sucks is because when we do it rock together, we can rock.
Pam: 40:31 Yeah. I think when it comes specifically to advising and financial planning, one thing that I found is when I understand the needs of the most marginalized groups that I work with, then I can actually help everybody. Everybody benefits, all of my clients benefit from me knowing and being able to help people who are the most marginalized and I think that's an important thing. If your goal as an advisor is to help as many people as possible and to make your practice as inclusive as possible. Then it goes back again to being specific and learning how to help these different groups and learning how to help different people and be able to address people and make them feel comfortable within their cultural context. Right? Because we all know that money is a taboo. We all know that people feel shame and embarrassment around money.
Pam: 41:21 We all know people are uncomfortable talking about it. And then to add on top of that, the fact that they feel uncomfortable around you because you don't understand their culture means they're completely gonna shut down. And so if you, if your goal is to have a more inclusive practice and to be able to help more people, then understanding how someone's culture deals with money and understanding what someone's family history is. And also understanding the broader economic generational struggles of specific races specific cultures and specific marginalized groups is super important as an advisor to be able to actually help people in a way that they need to be helped and to meet them where they are.
Rianka: 42:03 Going back to what you shared about See Change, your, your, your new program, See Change. You know, when I left Corporate America and launched Your Greatest Contribution, my financial planning firm, there was something that my clients needed that I couldn't, I couldn't figure out. Right. I was doing the traditional financial planning process and showing them longterm projections. Mind you, my clients are no longer 60 or 65, they're 30, or, or 27 because they, you know, they got an inheritance because, you know, a parent passed away and they didn't need a 60 year longterm projection. They didn't need, you know, all this other stuff that we're taught from a textbook standpoint. They needed to learn how to budget. They needed to learn how to budget. They need it to. Very similar with what I've started to see.
Rianka: 43:10 As far as a first generation college graduates, first generation immigrants, was the need to, one get over survivor remorse of just like I've made it. And it's, it's something that I've had to go through as well and learn because I am a first generation college graduate, first generation, you know, wealth builder. In my family and hopefully I can, you know, be able to create that generational wealth that my family has not seen before. And so I'm able to truly empathize with my clients and share, okay, well first we need to understand your goals specifically. And understanding in that context that one of their goals is to probably support family members and understanding that it did take a village to raise them. And so they may want to help the village, but how can we make sure your financial security is intact first prior to, you know, helping everyone or are helping these family members.
Rianka: 44:13 That definitely has helped support you as, a article that I wrote on CNBC and I'll share it in the show notes. It's, it talked about putting your financial oxygen mask on first because when you need help, who's going to help you? Right. So it's understanding that, you know, for, especially for first generation immigrants, their parents or whomever brought them over here sacrificed so much and they were probably working three different jobs to put them through college or three different jobs just to make ends meet because they couldn't get a, a regular job. Maybe because they didn't have the right papers. And so where someone could work and, and be earning $20 an hour, someone had to get paid under the table, maybe six, $7 an hour. And so in order to compensate for that, they had to work three different jobs. So yeah, I, I agree. I asked that question with knowing the answer that yes, I think is important for us to, from, from a financial adviser's lens or from a financial coach lens, for you to actually learn and be willing to learn about other people's culture and, and, and the context of, of money in their culture so that you can best serve them.
Pam: 45:33 Yeah. And I think that it can feel like a scary thing. If you, if you haven't done it before, as an advisor, if you're not sure how to do it in a, in an intentional way or you haven't, you haven't dived into it before. I think I've, I've heard a lot of advisors say, well, I just treat everybody the same and everyone needs help. Right? And I think that the, the idea of needing to treat specific clients differently can feel intimidating and it can feel like you are, you know, you are treating someone unequally potentially. And I think that I, I hear that a lot and it's important when we talk about inclusivity, again, the inclusivity doesn't work unless you are as specific as possible with the client. And I think financial planners know this, right? We know that every single one of our clients is an individual.
Pam: 46:27 And I think the missing aspect that you talk about on this show a lot is the fact that a client is an individual also within the context of their culture. They're not an individual just in their financial plan on paper. They're an individual person who has experiences and family histories and personal histories that also shape how their finances look today and what they want their financial goals to be in the future. And I think that's something that is super important to acknowledge and yes, it can feel a little awkward and a little intimidating to do it. At first it probably it was for me. And I think that the thing that I try and keep in mind, the two words that I try and keep in mind when I'm planning is to be infinitely curious and to be infinitely empathetic. And if you can be curious and empathetic with every single one of your clients, then you don't have to worry about, you don't have to worry about offending someone or feeling intimidated or feeling like you're treating someone differently. You are treating everyone the same. You are treating everyone how they want to be treated. And I think that when you remember that your job is to just be curious and empathetic as a financial planner and a financial coach, then you will be successful in helping people with their finances in the context of their culture.
Rianka: 47:48 Yes, I agree. And you know, something that, Saundra had mentioned in our very first episode is that sometimes as financial planners we put, you know, the financial health above cultural values without understanding their lens. So I love what you just said as far as being empathetic and curious at the same time. And it doesn't matter who sits across from you, I think you will then be able to best serve that client. So awesome. Another question that pops up, that I would love to for you two, to share your thoughts on is with this platform, I've been pleasantly surprised that a lot of advisors, not only advisors of colors, but white advisers as well, have reached out and say, how can I help? Like I hear you. I, I, I am a white woman. I am a, a white male in, in this profession and I do have a platform. So how can I help? What, what is your advice for these advisors who are trying to step up to the plate?
Pam: 48:51 Yeah, I think when it comes to wanting to come into a space that you're not familiar with, I think before going to to the person and asking how can I help is it would be great. Ideally if you had some ideas for how you can help. There's tons of places that you can research to learn about the racial wealth divide, prosperity now and the racial wealth divide initiative, NCRC. And so I think learning more about ways that you as a white person as a white advisor can be contributing to the cause and coming to someone like you and saying, Hey, I'd love to help and here are the ways that I have thought up to help. Here's the research that I've done. What do you think? Because I feel like one thing that tends to happen when people of color put themselves out there as someone who wants to talk about diversity and inclusion is there's a lot of emotional labor that ends up happening. When, when, a, white counterpart comes up to them and says, oh my God, I had no idea. I feel so bad. How can I help? And I appreciate that. And also there's lots of resources out there facing race, race forward is another great one for you to be able to learn how to help as a white person be an accomplice in this mission.
Dyalekt: 50:14 Yeah. And we use the term accomplice rather than ally because white folks, thank you we're glad that you got our back. We love you. We want you to be in here with us. And I figured what a lot of this has to do with is your platform. You have some platform even if you don't think that you do and we need you to do something that may seem a little contradictory in both using your platform and giving up and sharing your platform. When you have the opportunity and it's, you know, this is not a perfect science. It's something that you're going to have to feel out and learn. And there are some instances when we really need you to be the one who can talk to folks who won't listen to us. You know, as the light skinned, one of my cousins, whenever we'd be driving around and we'd get pulled over, they'd be like, he cuz put on your white voice and why don't you talk to those folks?
Dyalekt: 51:02 And because I have that light skinned privilege, I can do that. And I've been more successful than a lot of my darker skinned, even smarter and more articulate cousins in those situations. And in that same way, when those kinds of situations are present, it would be amazing if you all would step up into that role. At the same time, when you have the ability to speak with expertise about something, the ability to address groups about these types of things, if you have the ability to have a person of color, maybe some of you're working with maybe some of you're mentoring and maybe someone who was mentoring you, to put them in the position where their voice can be heard and your job is to amplify their voice. That would also be very helpful. And again, these things are situational and we're going to require a lot of nuance and paying attention, but those are the areas in which I think folks can help the most.
Pam: 51:50 Yeah, I think, and I just want to say I'm glad that you said that it's situational and there's a lot of nuance because none of us have the right answers here. These are all things that we've seen in, these are all things that we've experienced that have worked in our situations. And I think if you can come to the table, if you want to help as a white advisor is to bring your own experiences too, and also figure out how your, how your experiences can come into this space as well.
Dyalekt: 52:19 Ooh, and you know, on that, one thing that I wanted to add is take a breath, breathe and relax and build up a bit of a thick skin because you're dealing with situations that come from trauma, extreme life-long generations, long trauma. And there are people in our communities who will not accept. You will be angry with you, who will lash out at you, and it won't be specifically your fault and it will be confusing. And these things are byproducts of the system and how and where it has taken us. So I asked you, I implore you, really do not take these lash outs, these instances of us showing our trauma as a sign that you should not be involved. I really, really would love, and you know, it's, it's something that I think most of us groups have had and seen in our own lives and our own way that was just describing how, it's happened within my own family.
Dyalekt: 53:17 So I don't want you to think that you're alone when you are mistreated. I had a poet friend when I was doing this, a theater show was talking when he was a kid. You know, he used to get beat up, when he lived in the Bronx for being white. And the thing that I told him about it is, well, are those people here now in this room as adults? He said, no. The black people on stage, for the most part, they were Yale Grad school graduates. That's what they had to do to get into this room. What did you have to do to get in this room? So I just had to show up. I would say I was invited here and what I told him was those kids beat you up because they knew that was the only thing they could take from you.
Dyalekt: 53:59 They knew they couldn't stop you from being in this room. They knew they couldn't stop you from going to college and touring and all over the world and doing anything you wanted to. What they did to you was bad, unfair and raw. And those were, those were incorrect actions. But the place that they came from was not one of a reverse racism or of a hatred of white folks. It was a place of pain. And in this country, and as people, we are all in different degrees, in stages of pain. I truly feel like racism is wrong for everybody. This institutional system that hangs over all of us, it makes all of our lives worse because we are denied the true connections that we should have with folks. So when you approach these situations, understand some folks are going to be hurt, they're going to be afraid of the dog that you have and not want to pet it. There are all these things that you can, stuff that I can't even bring up that you're not even gonna notice until you're there. And I want to ask you to have empathy and have patience, as many of us have been having empathy and patience with our white counterparts who have not been aware of the things that have happened to us and have privileged them.
Rianka: 55:07 Wow. Thank you two so much. And yes, yes, yes to everything you just said. I can think of some examples as well, to, to add onto what you just mentioned, Dyalekt, but you know, I yes, yes and yes. I mean, I'm, I'm truly at a loss for words and that doesn't happen often. I mean, wow. Before I let you two go, is there, is there anything else that you would like to leave us with that you would like to share, any, any words of wisdom, as you, to continue your dynamic duo and, and, and advocating for financial literacy
Dyalekt: 55:45 As a rapper, I'll give you a rhyme. This is my favorite rhyme of all time, not the one I just did a second ago. Each one teach one. That's all, let's make circles.