In the current times that we are living in, creating and building wealth is critical, especially within the Black community. I had the pleasure of interviewing Commissioner Angel Rich.
The Empress Dee: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your game Credit Stacker?
Angel Rich: Yes, sure. I am Angel Rich, I am commissioner of financial literacy for Washington D.C., as well as founder and CEO of the Wealth Factory, where we design financial literacy education technology games AND I happened to be named the next Steve Jobs by Forbes Magazine.
The Empress Dee: That is so amazing! So how did you feel when were dubbed the next Steve Jobs?
Angel Rich: It was actually pretty exhilarating for me because I can be very odd in a lot of ways, I am usually misinterpreted with my personality and I really did not see any people that I recognized myself in until I saw the Steve Jobs movie, so when they named me that, it actually matched up with how I felt.
The Empress Dee: I can understand that that is great. So someone once told me that people who find solutions to problems get paid a lot of money, so how did you know that you would become so successful helping people build their credit?
Angel Rich: One of the biggest stressors…well first of all, stress tends to be the biggest cause of death, the biggest cause of stress is finance. The biggest financial stress is credit. So I figured, that while I had knowledge of different subjects, I figured that credit was at the crux of everything and if we could figure out how to help people with their credit then we could help them to figure out the rest of their financial future.
The Empress Dee: What would you recommend that parents do during this time to educate their children about credit?
Angel Rich: Well of course, I recommend that they download Credit Stacker, it is available on Google Play and IOS in 60 countries for $9.99. That is an extremely reasonable price so that you can give your child a better future. Teaching your child the fundamentals of credit now before they actually have credit is really important.
The Empress Dee: I completely agree because I know that growing up, I really did not have any knowledge about credit and I know that even a lot of parents put things into their children’s names because of their credit so I do think that it is very beneficial to do that.
Angel Rich: I graduated with $180,000 worth of debit and about $80,000 was student loans but the rest of it, I did not have too much to do with. So, I definitely understand those stories and those journeys and it is what gave me a deep passion for figuring out how to teach other people about their credit so that they can pay their bills and not have to struggle the same way that I did. So, Credit Stacker has been widely successful it is similar to Candy Crush, except instead of swapping around candy, you are swapping around credit types to pay off your debt in order to achieve a high credit score. The game has changed so many people’s lives where we have had people increase their credit scores about 75 points in 2 weeks and I have even had people come up to me in the street, crying stating that we helped prevent their family from foreclosure because they played this game, that is real life.
A lady just came up to me and just broke down crying and I tried to be there for a few moments and my sister was with me and I eventually was like okay, it is going to be alright and I had to move on and my sister sat there…I am a little more used to people coming up to me but my sister, she had never experienced somebody coming up to me like this, so she sat with the lady for 20 or 30 minutes and heard her entire story and when she came back to me and was like, you saved that lady’s life, she was on the brink of foreclosure, her family was about to be homeless, she saw an interview with you, she downloaded the game and it was just like whoa!
The Empress Dee: That was so beautiful, thank you so much for coming up with something that can help people who are in situations like that…I really do appreciate that. I know that in a recent interview that you did, you talked about how your mother had you read a lot of books and do book reports and things like that and so how beneficial would you say that it was to have work ethic like that?
Angel Rich: Even while I am sitting with you right now, I have a bookshelf in my office as well as one outside of my office as well one upstairs. I take books very seriously and I read different types of books…I have a book right here, The Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams (by Theresa Cheung), I study the craziest things (she proceeds to name some of the books that are on the shelf). I even go around and purchase all the Black children’s books, so I have an entire children’s book section as well. I study it all the classics, the new age, Black History. I think that the moment that you stop reading and learning…people wonder why I go into some many different programs and all of this, it is because I do not ever want to stop learning, I think that it is the moment that you begin to die because your brain is your consciousness and your entire body functions from your brain…so the moment that you stop growing your brain you then stop growing your body and so it is very essential.
The Empress Dee: Speaking of books, what inspired you to write The History of the Black Dollar?
Angel Rich: So I was actually re-reading Fredrick Douglass and a ton of other Black History books and it just occurred to me, I had so many questions around what happened in between the beginning of slavery and towards the end…you know they really do not talk about the beginning of slavery that much, we focus more on the end and post Harriet Tubman. The slave trade began in 1419, we were not free until 1868. So, did we just not have any interaction with money? It made me want to go back and research our history, what happened with the very first dollar. It turns out that oysters was originally a Black thing because the original law was that we could not eat anything on the land, for the first 150 years…that was the law, we could not eat anything on the land.
That is why Black people love seafood so much (laughter) so we started diving into the waters and we started eating things that they thought were just rocks, just like the collard greens were supposed to be bushes. So we started eating things that they thought were rocks and things that they were not even bothered by because we were going into the river bend of the Chesapeake and the Mid-Atlantic and so the first oyster house was actually started by a Black couple that had earned and brought their freedom, moved to Rhode Island and started a oyster house, it then took off across the country and became very profitable and after a long while, they then declared that we were not allowed to eat out of the water either because seafood became profitable. There are a lot of economic ties to the Black community throughout American history, that was one of the main things that I wanted to articulate, if there has been slavery since the beginning of American history, how could you possibly separate the two…they are completely intertwined. I think that the reason that America lacks so much culture as Americans is because they are refusing to acknowledge the actual culture that we do have and the history that we do have and that is really all under one umbrella.
So, my last thought on that is my goal was not just to make a book for Black history classes but across American history classes because if we are not reading from the same book, how can we be on the same page?
The Empress Dee: Wow, that is a lot of information. I first heard about your book on The Breakfast Club (morning radio show) and it sounded really good, thank you so much for that information. Speaking of economics do you feel like social Darwinism is still prominent among white corporations?
Angel Rich: You know, I think that white people are trying to figure it out. I think that they are trying in a sense. We have had abolitionists…how Harriet even got free, she left a quilt on the steps of a white woman and this woman was a part of the underground railroad. The Quakers have always been our friends, I think that the problem is that they do not necessarily wear anything so that we can identify and maybe we should issue them pins…maybe we need to hand out pins to white people and it does not have to say Black, it could just be a Black dot…maybe that is the movement. I really spend my time thinking about these things (she laughs) I do not want to say that it is just all white people, I do not want to put them into one bucket because there is almost (hilariously) hand to hand combat going on right now amongst white people…it is white on white crime like you have never seen before.
So, I want to acknowledge the people who are helping but there is definitely stubborn resistance at the same time, and it is the reason that God is King, but prince is the Satan of the earth and that negativity will always be 17 times stronger than positivity…it will flow faster but I personally believe that God is still King. So, I believe that positivity will win out in the end. So I have been trying to find ways where we do not necessarily ostracize the communities but things like the pin…I really might do that, where can come up with ways to identify the people that are with us. I think that is what is needed to help break down the capitalism.
Let me give you an example why. What I think about when you ask me that question is this, suppose you have 12 people in a room, let’s say that it is a jury and secretly everybody in there has a Black girlfriend, but no one knows it…so they are just 12 white people in a room, they have to keep their “white masks” on while they are at work and continue to go along with this legacy propaganda that their company has traditionally operated off of but if you have a movement where everybody had a pin you could literally count…it might start off as one or two and the number will continue to increase until one day it will be 7 out of 12 people would be identified…now we got us a party. I think that helping them being able to identity each other, where they could say…I am working on an initiative and we decided that we were going to focus primarily on Black people because there has been a lot of diversity initiatives that focus on the rainbow. But this initiative, we wanted to specifically focus on Black people.
We had a few people come in and say what about this group and what about that group and me along with some others are firmly like, no…we are focused on Black people and literally 1 or 2 people that poked holes in it actually said yeah, I agree that we should focus on Black people; then everyone said that we should focus on Black people. if you do not have those voices speaking up in the room that is willing to put themselves out there then you will just continue to have the Darwinism.
The Empress Dee: I definitely agree, that is a beautiful answer. How important would you say that it is that Black people understand their economic value, and what changes do you think would come with this knowledge?
Angel Rich: You must have wrote these questions down (they both laugh), you are Oprah today (laughter continues). What is the name of your channel, where can people find you (The Empress Dee answers by saying Purposely Awakened) ok shout out to Purposely Awakened!
I think that Black people not understanding their economic value is the biggest misnomer that we have. This is not a new notion, Booker T. Washington said that when we were first set free. One of my favorite anecdotes from Booker T. Washington is in this book, Up From Slavery (An Autobiography of Booker T. Washington), he met a man and he asked the man how many people were with you when you got sold?
This man’s response was it was 3 of us, it was 2 donkeys and me. Now you have to catch what I just said…let me break it down like Booker T. Washington did. This man equated himself to donkeys. His response was not that he was sold by himself. Booker T. Washington asked him how many people were with you, so this man had become so brainwashed by the system that he was an animal, he counted himself amongst the animals. He saw no separation between the animals and Black people. That is how we feel about our economic value…to this day! Oh it does not make a difference whether I watch the NFL or not what is my little world view going to do? A lot. I do not think that people realize how powerful the “view” is.
Why do you think that entertainment runs the world, why do you think that they fight so hard for your views? Why do you think advertisements cost so much? The “view” is very powerful…probably the most powerful thing other than a “view” is a VOTE. It really trips me out and I try to break down if you are following Neilsen ratings, once you reach 10,000 views (they put it in 10,000 chunks) so somebody could have 10,000 views on a tv show, that is when they start to pay attention. Let us just say that it is $10,000 for that particular advertisement slot and you just gave them a view and you are one of those 10,000 people at a minimum you just gave them a dollar…at a minimum. Now let’s take this to something like the Super Bowl where it is a million dollars per 30 second…c’mon ya’ll, do not get lost in the math. So people do not value themselves the way that they should.
The Empress Dee: Absolutely, I definitely agree. So another thing that you speak on is Black people sharing their resources with one another. Do you think that there was ever a history or a period in history that was more essential than now to really start doing that?
Angel Rich: Oh yes, it was actually always essential in our community. We started losing it around the segregation era and the example that I can use for that is, imagine a building and imagine that this building has 5 or 6 floors. Imagine that on each floor, it is a different race, where you have Natives, Jews, Hispanics, and you have white people on top and Black people on the bottom and you have the other races in between. I am willing to bet on those other floors, the ones that are in between, The Jewish, Chinese, Natives, Hispanics…they are all going to stay on their floors, they will gather up all of their money, they are going to save it all and they are going to work together.
Black people, as soon as they find an exit, they are going to be trying to figure out how to get to the top floor, how to catch an elevator, how to sleep with somebody on the top floor so that they can move in, how to get a job on the top floor…all these different things because they just cannot wait until they get to the top floor with the white people. Meanwhile, they have now dispersed themselves throughout the entire building and now it is a little bit with everybody and then the people who were either too scared or too militantly smart to leave are left on the bottom floor. So you have militant geniuses working with ignorant scared people and everybody else has dipped out.
So, no body has any power. So on every floor we have to fit in with what is going on, on that floor and now the other people in the building are now controlling us and our floor. Meanwhile, the others have gathered up so much money, that they have now purchased the building and that is what they do in their communities. You will watch them move in and it might be 5, 10 or 20 of them living in one house and the next thing that you know, Suzie has gotten married and she went off and brought a house and a building. Lupe has gotten married and went off and brought a house and a building…Sanjay has gone off and brought a house and it’s like we do not do that.
We do not do that at all and that is literally what happened in gentrification. We were in the prime real estate, we had land coming out of sharecropping that our ancestors fought for. We were spreading the Black dollar sometimes 21 days in the community. We decided that we needed to assimilate into these other communities, that we needed to reach the top immediately, that we did not care about our fellow man or doing it as a collective unit and a lot of people call me crazy for the approach that I have taken. Oh Angel if you are so smart and know so much about the stock market, why don’t you just go and make a whole bunch of money?
I decided senior year of college when I came up with an algorithm for the stock market that I did not want to live my life like that. I felt as though there was enough billionaires in the world and while yes I do plan on being rich, I do plan on being a billionaire, I wanted to figure out…set some type of blueprint for being able to do it as a collective unit. I can definitely understand why people go on their “DOLO” paths and different things like that, it is hard, and people do get agitated. However, for the benefit of the culture I am pretty sure that Harriet Tubman did not like every slave that she freed…she even got into arguments with her brothers. So, there is a reason that she held a shotgun. She was not kind to everybody she did what had to be done. She left the politics up to Sojourner (Truth).
I feel like we have to do this as a collective unit and more people have to operate in that fashion.
The Empress Dee: What advice can you offer our people during this time of uncertainty and injustice?
Angel Rich: Buckle down and save. I do not even know what people are thinking right now. I made a post the other day and it said that financial winter is coming. People have to realize, I still have not even seen evictions yet in D.C., I have not seen them yet. Now legally they started on August 25th, but it will take a moment for the court to process paperwork. There are 158 million working adults in America, 53 million of them were unemployed during Covid-19, so I would imagine that 1 out of 10 are in poverty right now. Sixty percent of kids in school, are in poverty right now, the stats are crazy.
People out here living their best life buying Duce and Fashion Nova and it is about to get real because those things do not have that much street value and I feel bad for people and that goes back to people not really understanding their potential, they do not believe enough in themselves to just buckle down and have a plan and a vision and then see it through, they would rather wait for this magical moment and there is no magical moment! You make the moment…luck is where opportunity meets preparation, but you have to be prepared. You have to be prepared, it is not just a lotto ticket from out of the sky, it does not work like that and I would tell people to dream as big as possible right now and go after it. What is the worst that can happen? Especially if you are unemployed. If you feel like you are overqualified for the job that you are in, then start a business, if you feel like you are underqualified then you need some education. It is really that simple, one of those two things.
Or you need to stop being lazy. I do not have anything else for you. Save your money…save your money, pay your bills, I do not care about what type of extension that they gave you, pay your bills do not get caught up and be thankful that you can pay your bills. Save that grace period in case there is a time where you cannot pay your bills. You might not think that it can happen to you, but it can. I hope that people really listen to that because there is definitely another storm coming.
The Empress Dee: Thank you so much for allowing us to do this interview and it was a pleasure talking with you and hopefully we will get a chance to catch up see what else you have going on. Can you let everyone know where they can follow you?
Angel Rich: You can follow me on Instagram @angelrich27, also download Credit Stacker on Google Play and IOS, it is available in 60 countries for $9.99. “History of the Black Dollar” is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. As well as let me shout out, “Hack Racism” which is happening with Black Tech Matters, we are doing that October 16-18. I encourage any Black organization, school, health network…any organization that is about the culture, please email us at email@example.com we want to have you involved, thank you!
The Empress Dee: Thank you so much and have a beautiful day.
Angel Rich: You too, have a good one.