Nafasi Ferrell is the Founder and CEO of Narratives Unbound, a consulting and education company that expands awareness of racial and economic systems. Nafasi is a community connector and events specialist focused on building bridges, healing, economic empowerment and closing the wealth gap.
Today, Jonathan and Nafasi dive deep into financial and generational trauma, the racial wealth gap and restorative practices for overcoming blockades to personal financial success. Nafasi speaks to the work she’s doing to help those in her community deal with trauma and personal finance and her idea of building a for-profit universal basic income program.
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01:11 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Nafasi Ferrell, who joins the show to talk about the connection between trauma and money
08:01 – The Racial Wealth Gap, explained
10:50 – Cultural and generational trauma
13:24 – How Nafasi has overcome trauma in her own life
17:51 – Overcoming limits that we put on ourselves
20:19 – Shame, scarcity, trauma, and personal finance
27:00 – Wealth redistribution
34:40 – How listeners can learn more about Nafasi’s for-profit universal basic income program
35:06 – One piece of financial advice to heed and one thing to absolutely ignore
37:48 – The last thing Nafasi changed her mind about and one thing that he would like people to know about her
39:33 – Jonathan thanks Nafasi for joining the show and let’s listeners know where to connect with her and learn more about Narratives Unbound
“But it really was when my father died in 2018. His death shook me to my core around really the big questions of ‘What am I doing? What am I living for? What society is this? What is my future and who’s writing my future? Is it me?’ And I realized it wasn’t me.” (05:37)
“People ask, ‘Why is there a large racial wealth gap? Why do we have these issues?’ Well, we don’t understand how society is made. And, the society comes from us and the things that we build. It’s not just you get up and go to work. It’s that there’s a whole society that’s being built around your labor and your efforts just as well as everyone else in your community, whether that’s positive or negative.” (07:40)
“I think when we speak to cultural trauma, we’re really talking about generational trauma. It’s trauma that’s passed down through generations. We know that slavery was just outlawed legally in a few states in the United States today. We know that people of color are still experiencing physical slavery. So nothing has changed for many since the Declaration of Independence, since the Civil War, since the end of Jim Crow Laws. This idea that ‘the past is the past and today is today’ is really not true. The practices are really the same and so, generationally, we can see today the things that our ancestors went through and we are still experiencing them.” (11:26)
“I think there’s levels of knowing you can have an affect. I think there’s limits that we put on ourselves and that society puts on us. It took me forever to build my business because I thought I couldn’t because I needed permission from somebody somewhere.” (17:51)
“Once your cognitive brain can function, new ideas and solutions actually flow; they are created. We are the only species that can take a thought and manifest it into physical reality. We’re it. That’s how powerful we are. Once we’re able to understand that, then we’re able to make better choices.” (22:14)
“My argument is that every single human being existing needs to understand how to manage wealth and manage resources, and needs to understand how to save, invest and redistribute.” (30:42)
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Jonathan DeYoe: Hi there. Welcome back. On this episode of the Mindful Money Podcast, I’m chatting about money and trauma with Nafasi Ferrell. Nafasi is a community connector and events specialist. She’s focused on building bridges, healing, economic empowerment, and closing the wealth gap. She’s the founder and CEO of Narratives Unbound. She’s a certified trauma of money method specialist. And she’s the person who introduced me to the idea of trauma as sort of a blockade to personal financial success. And I want to have on the podcast to share these insights with you. She and I can go off on these tangents. So we’re recording it. We don’t know where this is going to go. It should be lots of fun. Nafazi, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.
Nafasi Ferrell: Jonathan. Jonathan, thank you so much for having me today.
Jonathan DeYoe: So, just as a launch point, where do you call home and where are you connecting?
Nafasi Ferrell: Awesome. Yes. So home to me is planet Earth, of course, from the larger sense. But home for me is Altadina, California. And I’m currently here living in Washington state on Duamish lands here in Kirkland, Washington. So I’m happy to be with you all here today.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you’re living in Kirkland, Washington. Where did you grow up, though?
Nafasi Ferrell: Uh, I grew up in Altadina, California, right outside. If you don’t know where that is, that’s right outside of Los Angeles north.
Jonathan DeYoe: And growing up there, what did you learn about money and entrepreneurship? Like, was there any lessons or experiences.
Nafasi Ferrell: That stand out, really, for me. Money growing up as a child was twofold. I grew up with a father that was in relative poverty, and then I grew up with a mother that was not worked for the county in an intergenerational home, had my grandmother, my aunts, and a lot of other young siblings around me. And so money was never talked about. Money was when we go to the grocery stores. My father was, we don’t have enough for this, or we can only spend so m much on this. Money in my mother’s household has always been, whatever grandma wants, we go get. So if grandma wants to go out to eat three times a week, then that’s what we go do, because that’s what grandma wants. And so, really, the stories around money were about, if you worked, then you spent your money on the things you wanted to, right? And if you brought enough income, then you could stay in yourself. And that was the end of the story. There was no more to that story of building anything or discussions of anything. And entrepreneurship was not. My father was a photographer, but he never spoke about business, right? It was something that he loved, that he always did with the passion of his heart. And so it wasn’t about a discussion of money, because money was never. He never had any real money. And so money as, uh, what it is, was still an absence of my life. And I grew up teaching about race and about understanding society and civilization and how we built. But money as what is money was never talked about in my community as a young child growing up. And entrepreneurship was something that not many did as a young. It wasn’t until this later on in my life, now that I’ve been later on, what’s really, in 26 years old, when I really start to understand entrepreneurship and that there’s other ways of being and really start to understand and come into what money is.
Jonathan DeYoe: Where did those understandings begin? So, if it’s at 26, what was it? Was it an experience? Was it a class? Was it a mentor? How did you start learning about it?
Nafasi Ferrell: So, really, I was, uh, walking back from Walgreens one day, and it hit me. I was like, why do I have to use a credit card? Why can’t I just pay what I have to use another mechanism to pay something back with, and then I have a credit. What is this larger mechanism that is such a big part of my life that no one around me is talking about? And that really led me to understand that me and my husband at the time had over $30,000 worth of debt because money wasn’t talked about. You don’t talk about money, so you don’t look at it, you don’t deal with it. You just go to work and you get a paycheck, right? That’s it. There is nothing else. There’s no. What else do you need to do with your money to build or to save or to any of those things? And so that was a big awakening. So that was my awakening. I really went down the rabbit hole, started reading books, started with rich dad, poor dad. Somebody recommended it to me as one of those books. I remember there’s a book, the compound effect, but really, YouTube. I went down the black rabbit hole because, as a researcher, I had two degrees at the time of history. I was like, I wanted to understand what humans were thinking about, what money is. So I just dove in. If there was a pool, I just jumped right down the middle and said, what is the knowledge in that way? What are the narratives around this history, around? What is money that we’re telling ourselves? So that sent me on a journey around credit, around understanding credit, around saving. I wanted to become that vessel. I said, if I can use some of these resources to get out of debt, to save and start investing, right. 401K is rather the basics, right? If I could just do that, then others can do it as well. If I can. When my husband and I were only making about 60 something thousand dollars a year at the time combined. But it really was when my father died in 2018, his death shook me to my core around, um, really the big question of, what am I doing? What am I living for? What society is this? What is my future? And who’s writing my future? Is it me? And I realized it wasn’t me. It was work at a nonprofit, save the world, because that’s what everybody else is doing, right? And if you don’t get paid, then you don’t get paid. And that’s your sacrifice for the world. That’s the behavioral system that we operate in. We might say something different, right? But the behavior speaks of one that is ancient, right? That is still of slavery. So it took me a minute. It took me months going through my father’s process, reflecting on what I had done for myself and my husband. And those were tools, as if I didn’t have those tools. The trauma that I was facing, I don’t know if I would have gotten through it as quickly as I did.
Jonathan DeYoe: Is it the loss of your father that sort of brings trauma into your money story or the actual formalization of the trauma in the money coaching? Did that come later.
Nafasi Ferrell: The trauma is what I felt. The restorative practices work that I’ve been doing in west seattle here since 2018, beginning of 2018, was of peacekeeping, and so I’d been in restorative practices work, but trauma was not. Still not really spoken. And it really wasn’t until I got my certification in trauma of money and found trauma of money that I really was able to fully understand my full experience. I was like, oh, this is what it means to be a full human being, right? Body, mind, and spirit. Like, I’m complete in many ways, right? It was, what is this vessel I’m living in, and how does it operate? That I don’t understand, that no one around me is talking about that. I have an involuntary and involuntary nervous system. Nobody talks about that. School talks about those things. But every single day, when you see someone getting angry and yelling at someone, that’s a trauma response. Right? These things are not normal that people are talking about in their daily lives, right? And it causes extreme harm and conflict that reverberates and then creates more trauma and harm. And so that connection to that and understanding that, really the connection to understanding people are like, why is there a large racial webcam? Why do we have these issues? Well, we don’t understand how society is made, right? And the society comes from us, the things that we build. It’s not just you get up and go to work. It’s that there’s a whole society that’s being built around your labor, your efforts, just as long with everyone else in your community. Right. Whether that’s positive or negative. Right?
Jonathan DeYoe: So just, you mentioned the wealth gap, and I know that that’s something that’s really important to you. Can you define that for folks and maybe paint a picture of what is the wealth gap? Where does it come from? Um, I realize that’s an enormous question, but let’s spend a minute prepping our audience for what that is.
Nafasi Ferrell: I think we’ll think about it. Most people can think about it in ancient terms, right, where you have the king and you have the serfs. Right. And the gap between how much wealth and resource they have is what we consider the wealth gap in the United States. Really? When we talk about the wealth gap, we’re talking about the racial wealth gap. What does the top one to 10% have according to the rest of the country, right? And when we talk about. For people of color, right after we came out of slavery, right, we were considered property until about 1870. So we were physically wealth. So by the time we were released to then become air quotes to then participate in what it means to build wealth after being wealth, that is what we’ve had, which is nothing, because you can only build wealth if you’re allowed to have jobs. Black people weren’t allowed to, only allowed to have certain jobs within our sectors and our right. And if you work for a restaurant, even to this day in the United States, you get tipped. Your tips are how, uh, you make your money. Black people were only allowed to pay tips, right? So the basic structure around how we have and how we build are based off of our past, right? This didn’t just come out of jobs. IBM and Starbucks didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. They’re built. They’re built. And I think that this methodology, at least in the community that I have, is that wealth is out there, right? And because we were wealth, because we were slaves, because of that history, that’s really that gap. That’s the real gap. That’s a real wealth gap. But in number of terms, yes, it’s about what percentage of society has the most, which is very few, and that most people in our society do not have. But this is the course of civilization since we’ve been building civilization, that none of this has changed that the way civilization has been built. Uh, once the wealthy get too wealthy and the poor get too poor, we have revolution and we rebuild again. But the one thing that I think that I fight so vehemently for us to think about today, today as a part of history, is because for the first time, as far as we know, in the last 10,000 years, with the technology that we have today, we can redistribute resources in ways our ancestors could have never imagined. So wealth can be built in ways that we still can’t even imagine because of the resources that we’ve been able to build over the last 100 years or so.
Jonathan DeYoe: Right? I mean, it’s very recent. That’s not true. There’s always been massive inequality, but it’s very recent. The size and the scale of that, of just the business ownership, just the stock equity ownership, it’s ridiculous how much there is. And sort of finding a way to, I think in one of the services you talk about, you talk about redistribution, and I think I want to get to that. But before we get to that, I want to sort of tie together the idea of trauma of two kinds and the wealth gap. So there’s been a lot of recent queries around cultural trauma, or what they call the epigenetic inheritance of trauma through generations. So you spoke to the loss of your father. You and I have spoken about the loss of my brother. We know that there’s an individual trauma that affects our own behaviors and choices. But can you speak to, when you’re working with your clients or in groups, that cultural trauma and how recognizing that and calling that what it is can be helpful in overcoming it?
Nafasi Ferrell: Right. I think when we speak to cultural trauma, we’re really talking about generational trauma, and it’s trauma that’s passed down through generations. I think when it was put into the books, it was put into the books because of Holocaust survivors knowing that the things that they’ve gone through affected actually three generations after them. Right. So we know that slavery was just outlawed legally in a few states in the United States today, we know that people of color are still experiencing physical slavery. So nothing has changed for many since the declaration of independence, since civil war, since the end of Jim Crow laws, when this idea that the past is the past and today is the day is really not that the practices are really the same. And so generationally, we can see today, we can physically see the things that our ancestors went through, and we are still experiencing them. So we can chart the generational trauma to right now that since my first slave ancestor, her name was Mary, came off the boat and landed in Virginia, my uncle found her documentation. Since then, my bloodline has been experiencing. Since I get to exist today, has experiencing the epigenetics of the trauma of that. And I get to experience that in my family. My mother and my family have extreme hoarding. Right. My father lived in extreme scarcity. He also had PTSD. He was in the Vietnam War. There’s layers of trauma, right. But really, generationally, the things that, when we speak about our ancestors, our ancestors really is our great great grandmother. That was yesterday. Time is not as right now. It’s expansive. It’s that we’re still living a lot of what they lived. So in our bodies, in our beliefs today. So that resumenica’s work around epigenetics and generational trauma, that is the core of what all of us experience, I think, is that larger. We are born into this world, and the world happens to us just as much as we happen to it. And so that really is, at its core, generational. We carry that on and on and on, whether that’s a natural disaster or whether that’s genocide. Right.
Jonathan DeYoe: What sort of things have you done in your own life to overcome some of that trauma? I mean, you’ve traced your lineage back to a slave. So how do you overcome that, or how do you learn a new lesson and move? I guess it’s just like dealing with the trauma of a loss, right? You don’t change. You just have to deal with the new, really.
Nafasi Ferrell: It’s taken me a lot of my life to not be angry. There’s a lot of anger in my work. I studied tons of genocide and war that was much of my life. Studying global war and genocide and working with people who have had their families disappeared or refugees who’ve been in torture chambers for ten years. It’s rough to sit in trauma with others and then sit in trauma with my own family, living in a house that was never clean, having a father that was suicidal because of things that he faced. For me, knowledge. I wasn’t just hungry for knowledge as a child. I was very hopeful. That’s who I am in my spirit, is that I’m a person that’s always observed and seen that. I’ve always believed we can change tomorrow, today and tomorrow. Right. That tomorrow can be different than today. I’ve always believed that since I was eight years old. I don’t know what happened when I was younger than that, but since I was very young, I’ve always believed there was a way. And so I’ve always used certain practices. For me, when I was young, really dealing with my trauma, I danced. So a lot of our ancestors saying they dance, um, we shake our legs. Right. There’s different ways that we release. Right. Trauma is a physical experience. We have to move the energy through our body so it doesn’t get stuck and metastasized and develop into disease. So, for me, it was dancing. So I was a salsa dancer, and those are the things that brought me joy. I had a community around that. That’s what really sustained me. I also traveled when I could because I had a mother that had the resource to send me to Europe to study. I went to Europe to study race. That was a little difficult, really stepping back and seeing a lot of the things that people went through and walking on our ancestors lands was hard because there’s so much still going on in different parts of the world, different parts of Europe and different histories. So getting to experience, embrace the world, I have friends from around different parts of the world. I got to really listen and sit, and that really helped me. I really understood. It’s not about, like, this is about me. Yes. But I was able to shift my lens. Shifting my lens into an us and a we lens really helps to diminish shame. Right. In trauma of money, we talk about whose shame is this? And shame doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to society, right? It should melt away. And we need to step into our abundance, which is us, our thoughts, our skills, our talents, the resources that we have and share them with each other and in each of those acts, whether that’s in cooking, right, which feeds others, and that brings us joy, which I love to do as well. That’s the way that I nourish my nervous system. So there’s different ways that we can do that that will help us.
Jonathan DeYoe: How important was it to study race in mean, uh, and were you studying differences in race in european cultures, or were you studying the differences in race in the US while you were in Europe?
Nafasi Ferrell: I was studying the history of slavery and race in the Netherlands, but it was hard because they had diminished access to the Institute for slavery about two months after I got there. But I’m like, this is state funded, so how are you going to, huh? Of course you’re not going to fund. Of course you’re not going to fund this research. For me, it really wasn’t eye opening because I had come from really great leaders and teachers in Oakland. It was interesting to experience the level of, when I was there in 2012, the level of access to free health care and education. I know that there’s disparities within all of that, but not seeing a lot of poor people in specific area, depending on which country I travel to, right. Specifically going to the Netherlands, just experiencing what I wasn’t used to. I’m used to seeing homeless people on the street growing up, right? I’m from La area. I’m used to disparity. And I’m like, there’s not a lot of disparity here. I’m like, that’s possible. That really triggered. I’m like, oh, wait, we get to choose how we live. Not that on the smaller scale, larger events will impact us, governments, all of those things, but we have a certain level of power of how we can move and shape our own lives. And that was the big thing for me. I’m like, I can impact my own life. That really was, I think, one of the foundational pieces for me. I didn’t know m about money then, but I was like, there’s other things that I’m going to need to continue to learn about my life that will help push me forward. And for me at that time, I want to build community. For me, that bigger community was just growing in the world, expanding in the world, learning about the world.
Jonathan DeYoe: You said there you learned that I can impact my life. So is that a taking of responsibility or is that just like an awakening? Like, oh, wow, I actually can have an effect from a space where you didn’t know you could have an effect.
Nafasi Ferrell: I think, is there’s levels of knowing you can have an effect. I think there’s limits that we put on ourselves and that society puts on ourselves, saying, it took me, uh, forever to build my business because I thought I couldn’t, because I needed permission from somebody somewhere. These levels that are blockages, right, that prohibit us sometimes from getting to the next level. And so for me, it was really about, uh, I just lost my train of thought.
Jonathan DeYoe: So let me just interject something here. I noticed that one of the things that whenever we talk, this comes up in my own head, but I was raised with nothing financially but the message that I could become whatever I wanted to become. And that message, I think, is the difference. That message is the thing that enabled me to become. Had I been raised the way I was raised, without that message, I would be nowhere near where I am today. But it’s that fundamental belief that I can actually affect the outcome was huge.
Nafasi Ferrell: You’re right, and I think you triggered that. So I wasn’t supposed to say what I want to say. I was supposed to say this, uh, it triggered a memory for me. My father, when I was a young, young child, actually, my whole life, I’ve always said my mother could provide my financial resource. My father provided my mental resource, my spiritual resource in many ways. And he always told me, you are great. Say it with me. You are great. I used to hate him for that. I’m like, I want to say this all the. All the time. Yes. That was the door. I think that the inner door that I needed to go out into the world. And I think I was only, like four or five or six when he’s saying this to me over and over until my whole life, until he passed away. You are great. You are amazing. Sometimes that’s all he would say. And we are a species that needs to be spoken, seeded into, right? And I think the things that we are told when we are young impact our childhood traumas, impact us as an adult, whatever. We become an adult, determine when society decides we’re an adult and when we’re not an adult. Right? So as we’re growing, we need positive reinforcement, love, which in trauma families, people don’t always get. And that affects their ability to know that it’s not their fault. Once the shame and the guilt take over, it is hard for a being to overcome. And if no one’s holding them and saying, it’s okay, rest. Let me hold you. Let me pay your bills. Uh, and let me just take the weight and lift you up so that you can breathe for a moment, then they’re going to stay that way until they perish many times.
Jonathan DeYoe: So let’s get right into this then, because I think this speaks to some of the services and the things that they’re listed on narratives unbound, like the things that you do. And I don’t think we need to go into the financial coaching, but I really want to talk about community workshops especially. I think you mentioned one that’s like, what’s your money script? I think this is directly what we’re talking about. So what is it that you get into? A group of people, they have different traumas, they’ve got different histories. How do you lead them through the process of figuring out their own scripts and then self selecting out of those historic negative scripts.
Nafasi Ferrell: Right. So that workshop specifically is from a collaborator of mine, Rosa Collin, everybody. You can check her out and check her on the website. So there’s money scripts and there’s money disorders. These beliefs that we have about money that then trigger our behavior in real life, right? Trigger our physical. So in trauma of money, we don’t talk about money scripts as much. We talk about money disorders as Dr. Brad Klont, two leading psychologists, right, I know you’ve heard of them, have developed these, and none of these are in the psychology and leading psychology books for folks when they go and get their degrees, right? So we really focus on, or Dr. Klans really focuses on the different types of ways that we can behave negatively with money. Right. Specifically within my life, I’ve experienced the hoarding, undercharging is what many women of entrepreneurs, people in general, but really women entrepreneurs of color experience because of shame. Why should I charge that much? I’m charging them too much, right? That comes from a historical, that really does come from the historical space of when we weren’t allowed to have money. If I have money, I will be hurt for some, that is real today. So I’m going to reject the resource that is coming my way. Right. And that’s something that really takes time to overcome. So really then trauma money, we really talk about. And what I’ve told my clients all the time is we sit really with shame, right. Once shame is broken, people actually your biology when you’re out of scarcity, even if for m a moment, regulating your nervous system, doing meditative practices, mindful practices. All of that gets your body and aligns your nervous system, your physical body, so that your cognitive brain can function. Once your cognitive brain can function, new ideas and solutions actually flow. They are created. Remember, we are the only species that we know because we can only communicate with each other, really? Maybe octopuses one day, who knows? But we’re the only ones that can take a thought and manifest it into physical reality. We’re it. That’s how powerful we are. Once we’re able to understand that, then we’re able to make better choices. Right? What’s next? What financial tools do I need? Am I working for this employer? Oh, my goodness. I’ve never opened up a 401k. Now’s the time. Let me get that full match if it fits within my budget and doesn’t put me into scarcity. Right. Small little decisions you can make, but, uh, once you’re not in a trauma triggered state. Right.
Jonathan DeYoe: So in the trauma, money stops that you’re doing. Do people walk away with that kind of nitty gritty detailed to do? Or is it all sort of trying to figure out the psychology, trying to figure out where the trauma is coming from?
Nafasi Ferrell: So, Chantel Chapman created trauma money a few years ago. And so I’m one of the faculty and for the program, and I also lead the black and indigenous people of color affinity group. So it’s a community network. It’s a 16 week course. People go deep. We go deep. We have different teachers, and we go through the different strategies, the trauma money methodology that we have that Chantel created, that goes through how you go from understanding and beginning to then being well with your resources, right? Not just money. Money is one of the resources. So it’s really a whole system of understanding the psychology of money, the body trauma, how that fits within, how we operate within society from a systemic. So I talk about the racial wealth gap and slavery, talk about colonialism. Then we go down to the individual. We talk about all levels, because we’re one being. So we have to be integrated to be able to do the work. And it’s hard. There’s a lot of introspection. The self work is intense, and that’s what other spaces take you away from. I can just operate, and I don’t have to look within. That’s not possible. You cannot operate at your full, optimal self unless you know your behaviors. Right. And you can only do that when you’re in a safe space. And a lot of people are not in a safe space to look within, to say that they made a mistake. Right. When we create that community. So it’s the knowledge and it’s the community space of. I have a community I can grow with, learn with change, with. As an affinity group leader, having led multiple affinity groups, not just for trauma money, but a couple of others, people’s lack of ability to gather is killing us because there are very few spaces where people believe they have the ability to do so. People are very alone and fighting and performing because we’re taught to perform. And so what we really do and what I’m grateful for, trauma, of money, of chantel, of really pushing forward, is human first. Our biology and our resources together can help us change who we are and what our communities are. And it’s been a beautiful. I mean, it’s been a beautiful experience to be a part and help others, but specifically for the work that I do with community workshops, for narratives unbound. As I bring in specific other community leaders around trauma, around other financial fitness coaches, around money scripts, and everybody has a lot of women of color I work with have their own experience on how they’ve gotten out of debt, how they changed their lives. And a lot of people just don’t get to hear their stories, so we get to sit in different workshops, and a lot of them have been private individuals asking for group work. I’ve also done work with a lot of organizations, working with their executive teams so that they can understand trauma and really start to transform how they’re viewing, how they can use their resource. So, that’s the community workshop. So, really how that functions within narratives m and bound. But a lot of my time is spent working within trauma’s money to impact people.
Jonathan DeYoe: So you start a new workshop, you have a new set of people that attends. How much after it’s over does the group stick together? Is there, like, a cohort? Is there a formal communication system after the fact, or how do you support that afterwards?
Nafasi Ferrell: So, I will just share specifically about trauma of money for people who do or interested in more in that we are cohort model. So people go through a cohort. At the end of the cohort, we have affinity groups that people can join. There’s the professional affinity group. There’s a general affinity group. There’s an LGBTQIA two plus community affinity group. There’s a black and indigenous people of color affinity group. So there’s different places that people can plug into, and people take the time. Right. We have a mighty network on, uh, digital system that people can plug into and work with each other, which they’ve been using as well. My dream of course, is to be more robust. I think there’s a lot of these online spaces where people are taught to be online all the time, so they forget sometimes they have a resource. So I try to just reconnect with folks and say, hey, have you been, what are the things that have been going on? As we’re an international program, we’ve had people in Puerto Rico, we’ve had people all over. So just trying to reconnect with people, making sure they’re okay, that, as small as it is, is a part of the work, is a part of the transforming of connecting, trying to lean in, asking people what they need and being there. I think as a network, that is the culture that has been created and that we’re all building together specifically for trauma of money.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I want to kind of shift towards, uh, the redistribution, the wealth redistribution. So you list it as a service that you offer on the website. So a, how is that a service? Like, how are you implementing that as a service? And then just break into some details about how you’re doing it.
Nafasi Ferrell: So it’s really been built organically. I really wanted to another one of those being a vessel, can I gather people from around the country that have no idea who they are, have never met, and can they redistribute resources with each other? That’s how the journey began. So it’s been over a year now, and this group of folks are redistributing $25 to each other. That might be small, but the overcoming of giving and receiving, of shame and guilt, is a tough process for people to have to journey, to whip together, especially if you’re strangers. Even if you’re not strangers. It takes a long time as people deal with their own money traumas.
Jonathan DeYoe: What does that mean, $25? Just functionally, someone has a need. They ask the community, the community provide, how does that work?
Nafasi Ferrell: So that is not how the. So this group decided how they wanted to create their own wealth redistribution. So this is the first cohort that I have. There’s another cohort that’s international. So they actually won’t be able to do some of the same things that this group is doing, but they decided that they wanted to give within. So everyone receives once in a, ah, rotation, but everyone had to give the same amount. Right. So once a month, someone has received $25. Someone gives someone $25, everyone in the group, and that’s their gift for the month. And they’re able to use that, right. It’s universal basic income as a function of what I think people could understand as unconditional cash transfer. Right? So people are able to use the resource as a gift. Right? It’s a resource that is being shared amongst everyone. And that’s the rotation that they’re in now. That rotation is just finished. And so they are now in the process of redeciding how much they want to share within currency resource. So the wealth redistribution, the bigger piece for me is in the currency. People redistributing their currency, which is real resource source to each other, but also redistributing their skills, their talents, and their networks to each other, which has been vital. They did that on their own. They’re all activists, they’re all community leaders. So that was easy. But they didn’t understand that they could take their own income and help each other. That piece was the part that took people a long time. That tradition of circle giving and Susu’s is so lost that people like, I can’t help you unless someone tells me to. Right? That reteaching. Oh, you black woman. I know you and I built relationship with you. Yes, I can help you if I have access, if I’ve saved, invested, and redistributed for myself, right? We talk about budgeting, we talk about money. I get to go through some of that, work with them as they get to build their own community together. I really wanted to build this space as for them and their cohort and how they wanted to manifest wealth redistribution for themselves. And I think the story that I have from Stella that’s actually on the website that people can look at if they’d like to, is a beautiful story of what we unearth. Right? When we do share resource with each other, when we do know that we have someone in our pod and our network that we can lean on if we needed to, for financial support as well as for currencies, uh, for skill support or for talent support and other those types of things.
Jonathan DeYoe: So is the $25 amount, is that really an amount that opens the door to the potential of. And then if we all recognize that, hey, I can give $25 or receive $25, and I’m okay with it either way, does it then enable me to give more and feel okay with it? Because I’m imagining we talk about inequality and we talk about a wealth gap, and we talk about redistribution, and I’m just going to bring the word reparations in. That is, uh, I think a larger macro from those who have to those who have less. Is any of that built into it? Or is this just like a door opening test?
Nafasi Ferrell: My argument is that every single human being existing, needs to understand how to manage wealth and manage resources, and needs to understand how to save, invest, and redistribute. So there’s a gap that I believe in the narrative that it’s all the wealth duty. Wealth the richest duty. Because once those that do not have become wealthy, if they don’t have the tools and the resources, then they will do the same as those that were wealthy. Right. We’ll repeat the, uh, cycle.
Jonathan DeYoe: Got it.
Nafasi Ferrell: So it’s whoever comes to the door, anyone who has said they have been interested in the wealth redistribution is a part of the program, period. It’s about who comes, because there will be more, right?
Jonathan DeYoe: Who has arrived? Who has come?
Nafasi Ferrell: So a lot of people from some people from trauma money network, some people from my larger community network here in Seattle and folks back in Los Angeles. And there’s a couple of people from the trauma money network that are from London and from Australia that are also joining the program. We’re in a spot right now where I’m trying to build out the infrastructure part of it. We’re trying to raise the $150,000 currently to do a full universal basic income pilot. So each person receiving $1,000 for six months and then creating a model out of that after that, based on the data that comes out of that. We already know the data because we’ve been doing it for over a year with each other. But it’s this bigger, uh, idea of investing, right? There’s a few organizations like CEO and a few others that are. Your return on investment is the wellness of the people that are a part of the group. Are people. Well, do people have their bills paid? Are people not in scarcity? Those things are return on investments, and we can fund those things. And so my idea of building a for profit universal basic income program is new, and it’s something that people are like, what is this on top of universal basic income, right. Conrad’s Ashaw’s commingle program is one of the biggest that everyone’s looking at and waiting for right now, like we all are, but that we have to continue to think outside the box of universal basic income. It can’t just be the government. We’re all waiting on the government to provide universal basic income. Well, what happens when fascism comes and takes over? If there’s rich people in community, if there’s still wealth, how are we going to redistribute it to one another if it’s only the government’s job? So I think that there’s also a narrative around business, around what you can build. You don’t just have to build just a product, a physical product in the world. You can actually build a business to help others. And it takes a lot of time and energy, and it’s hard work. But the efforts and the people that I’ve impacted have been worked along this journey thus far. And so I’m looking forward to not giving up. Right. To continuing to. I don’t have stable income, but I know that it will come through. Not giving up on this process, because people do want to be in community, people do want to redistribute. We just have to do it more often with each other, and that just actually takes time. Right.
Jonathan DeYoe: Do you know of other. It’s a new idea, the idea of a for profit basic income. Do you know of anyone else that’s attempting something like that?
Nafasi Ferrell: A for profit, universal basic income? No. Universal basic income projects everywhere.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, it’s everywhere.
Nafasi Ferrell: But for profit CEO is one of the only organizations that has what I would consider to be similar. I would hope that there are. That I don’t know of. I would hope. I really do. I would like to know that I’m lying and there’s, like, 50 others. I would love it. Right? I would love. But I haven’t been told I’m crazy yet. I’ve been told that this is great. Keep working on it. Right. But there is no one really also fighting for this work in this way. So I’m really out here on a ledge, and it feels good because of the people I’ve been able to impact, but it doesn’t mean it’s not hard.
Jonathan DeYoe: I’m sitting here trying to remember. I did an interview with an academic who has sort of overseen 25, 35 different basic income, and he doesn’t like the universal basic income. He likes the idea of basic income, and he likes the idea of the government providing it and it being a sort of a nation state or a community engagement process. But I’m just trying to remember. It’s like the basic income, B-E-I-N basic something income network or B-I-E-N basic income something network. I don’t remember what it is, but I would highly recommend you check them out, and I’ll figure it out, and I’ll put the actual URL in the show notes so people can find that as well. If somebody wants to engage in your for profit, basic universal basic income, how do they do that?
Nafasi Ferrell: So, if you would like to just know anything about it or, uh, would like to look into supporting any sort of way. You can just send me an email or go to the website firstname.lastname@example.org that’s the best way to get in contact with me.
Jonathan DeYoe: Cool. Now, there’s a ton of noise out there. We live in this soup. People talking all the time about money and success and social media and blah, blah, blah. I want to make it really simple for somebody. So if you have a new coaching client, just a person that’s coming to you, they’ve got trauma, they’ve got history, they’ve got questions. They’re concerned about money. What’s, like, the one thing that you would say to them right now? Just do this one thing. Just focus on this one thing. And if you do this one thing really well and completely, this will clear the path. This will make everything else easier.
Nafasi Ferrell: Really? Truly, truly, truly, truly. That shame does not belong to you.
Jonathan DeYoe: Release the shame if you can.
Nafasi Ferrell: Release that shame. I hate to say this, but the world is your oyster. Negative connotation to that term, but shame is the wall that prohibits us from seeing the other side. That might not be rosy, but it’s clear enough path for us to walk through and continue walking towards our dreams.
Jonathan DeYoe: On the flip side, they’re swimming in the soup and they’re getting all these messages from all over the place. And a lot of those messages might have someone making an offer or sales or something built into it. So is there anything that people hear a lot about when they’re going through the trauma of money that they should just ignore? That they should just say, you know what? I don’t have to worry about this thing that everyone’s talking about.
Nafasi Ferrell: Ignore the noise is not the right term because nobody knows what the noise is. Right.
Jonathan DeYoe: Exactly. What is an element of the noise that they should ignore?
Nafasi Ferrell: Need to pick one.
Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, you do. The big one. If you want to pick two, pick two.
Nafasi Ferrell: I would say, really, to ignore the thing in the back of your head that says, I’ve learned enough, because you need to want to be curious to learn more. I really want to say, stay away from crypto and stay away from these other things. But I want to say, with money, if, uh, we’re talking about money, what money is us being money? All what is money? Then be hungry to learn and learn how to discern. Right. In trauma money, we talk about decreasing shame and increasing discernment. Right. And so the more you learn, the more you can weed it out for yourself. You can weed out. The noise will quiet. The noise will quiet the more you learn. I would say one other piece of advice that we don’t hear in the communities of color specifically is hiring a fiduciary advisor is a good thing. Right? Having someone on your team, in your network that an accountant or on a financial advisor that can support you. We need to build our network as strong as we can. And that’s part of our wheel, right. When we’re building. And it’s very important because there is this. Yes, we can do it on our own, but it’s better when we’re in a conversation with someone and we’re not doing it all by ourself because we don’t have to.
Jonathan DeYoe: A couple of things that are more personal before we wrap up the interview portion here. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?
Nafasi Ferrell: The last thing I changed my mind. Okay. I will be honest. The last thing I just changed my mind about was how much emergency fund I needed. When we’re talking about trauma, right, and scarcity, there’s the trauma that comes from an experience that we’ve had that’s triggering us and that we can calm, and there’s different ways that we can look at that. One of the things that I also talk to my clients about is building an abundance plan. People don’t like the word budget, so I’ve named it the abundance plan, where you can sometimes sit down and really assess where are you? And the ability to check in. If it’s a system, I have an advisor. I use a digital system that tells me where my resources are. I have another one other place, right. That grounds me and tells me where some of my other resources are. Our monthly resources are. That’s how I manage our finances and our home. And sometimes when you’re in scarcity, you forget to look down at the plan you’ve made for yourself, because times are hard. And I shifted to really look and say, oh, wait, I don’t need as much as I needed. And that, uh, everything’s going to be okay.
Jonathan DeYoe: Beautiful.
Nafasi Ferrell: And I needed that at this period in time it came. Right. I, uh, talk about this a lot. The spirit brings things when it’s the spirit’s time, not at our time, even though it’s very annoying.
Jonathan DeYoe: Is there anything that people don’t know about you, or maybe you’ve told them and they’ve forgotten that you really want them to know?
Nafasi Ferrell: I’m a great cook. I love to cook. So if anybody wants to join and build spaces where people break bread and do healing, I would love to do more of that work with others. And I also love to dance too. Actually, I did mention that a lot of people don’t know that I used to salsa dance, so I got to almost dance perform in Europe, but I was at the performance level before I got injured and stopped.
Jonathan DeYoe: So dance and food, these things are great things. So you gave us the name of the website, but is there another way to connect with you, or is that pretty much the best place to go?
Nafasi Ferrell: Yes, you can go to the website, go to Instagram, but really it’s for the website. That’s where I post a lot of the things that are happening within the organization. And then if you have any questions, you can send me a message on the website or email me at email@example.com.
Jonathan DeYoe: All right, Nafazi, thanks so much for coming on. We’ll make sure all that stuff is in the show notes and we’ll share it as broadly as we can. Appreciate you being on.
Nafasi Ferrell: Thanks so much, Jonathan.