Written by Quan P. (Founder/CEO of BLACKAMAZING)
As children, many of us were encouraged to tap into our imagination and dream big. You can be anything you want, they told us. I personally wanted to be an astronaut. I didn’t think of it as something that was impossible, I just knew that i wanted to do it.
As we get older and eventually become adults, all of those dreams are suffocated by reality. Suddenly we are having to pay bills and asked about our “Plan B.” I think about the idea of being an astronaut now and it seems silly, because that would cost money – money that I do not have.
I admire how the younger version of myself set goals without approval. I didn’t ask everyone if it was okay to want to be an astronaut and i didn’t pay attention to people that told me it was impossible.
Now before I get into today’s discussion, i’ll explain that I titled this article “The Struggles of Being Black, Creative & Broke” instead of just “Creative and Broke” because Atlanta is about a black creative.
Black entrepreneurs, including those that aspire to run their own businesses face various obstacles. One is obtaining capital. Ernest’s parents were not introduced as people that are well-off. They seem to have just enough to get by and complain when he asks them for money. He doesn’t have family support and there are no financial assets left behind by them.
Another challenge may be getting approved for a loan (if you qualify). In studies conducted by Rafael and Robb covering credit market experiences from 2007-2010, the research revealed that black firms had lower approval rates for loans than white.
This is not to say that white entrepreneurs don’t experience difficulties obtaining funding for their business but the percentage differences show that they face significantly less hurdles than black entrepreneurs.
I study motivational speakers from Les Brown to Lisa Nichols and one thing that i’ve realized is that they all have something in common — they didn’t ask for permission to dream. That is the adult way of using your imagination. You’re visualizing success and sending it out into the universe – similar to how your teacher asked you to write down what you wanted to be when you were younger.
Ernest from the FX series Atlanta, reminds me of myself because he’s a black creative and broke. He’s working a minimum wage job at the airport and barely makes enough to support himself.
He has a daughter and Van, the mother of his daughter wants him to contribute to rent payments. No additional content has been provided about how he ended up at that job. Maybe he sent out applications to the majority of establishments in the Atlanta area and the airport was the only one to actually offer him a position.
He wants to work in the music business but the biggest issue for him is money. This a common experience for black creatives, who may have ideas for the the next best thing but don’t have the funds (or connections) to support it.
Ern may not have the resources but he is incredibly resourceful. Most importantly, he’s not asking for permission to dream. Van (the daughter of his mother) and his parents have expressed that he should seek other options.
There is a wave of black creatives realizing that they really can make their dreams a reality.
Social media is used as a form of entertainment and a springboard for businesses. Creatives are often told that their dreams aren’t real profitable or “real jobs.” People like Ernest don’t want to settle for soul-draining, dead-end jobs.
They don’t want to wait for the phone to ring or the door to open — they will do anything to make their dreams a reality. Ernest is creating his own lane and even though the people around him may not see his vision, he is speaking it into existence.