This “financial activist” says black women should assert their fiscal independence in relationships. Here’s why
Credit: Mena Darre
The first thing that strikes you about Dasha Kennedy Instagram page probably not their robust following of more than 181,000. Or the beautiful pictures of her distinctive face. It’s the handle: @TheBrokeBlackGirl.
As you can imagine, there is a story behind the name. A really inspiring one.
Born in Georgia, 34, like most middle-class black people, the 34-year-old grew up in households where food on the table and a roof over one’s head were priorities but financial literacy was rarely discussed.
“These conversations did not take place at my house,” Kennedy told Essenz. “And now that I’m older, I wish they were. But one of the things I’ve come to realize is that talking about finance can be a very emotional ordeal, especially in our society.”
Kennedy said that because her parents kept their financial behaviors very private, she made some needless missteps leading up to early adulthood, including collapsing more than $20,000 in debt after their divorce seven years ago. Used to living in a two-income household and not making her own finances a priority, she began drowning in bills. This, she says, was a turning point in her journey to financial literacy.
“My experience with money was interesting because even though I worked in the financial sector for years, I still got into debt,” she said, citing her time as a relationship manager at US Bank and at Kemper as an accountant. “I abused credit cards and took out payday loans — something I never thought I would have to do. It wasn’t until life really began that I realized that what I thought I knew about money was very small compared to actual experiences of various financial woes. It was an eye-opening experience.”
She said her divorce taught her to always put her personal financial health first, even in a civil partnership, and advises women in particular black women to do the same.
“When I think of black women in relationships with black men, money discussions get bogged down in small things,” she says. “We hear so many conversations about who’s paying the bills, the 50-50, and all these expectations of black women not only working but coming home to cook and clean, which in itself is unpaid work is. So when I think about black women, relationships, and money, one of the things I encourage is never to put your finances on the back burner, regardless of the nature of your relationship. I always empower women, especially black women, to engage, ask questions and don’t fall under the trope, ‘Oh, if you get too involved with the financial issues, you’re going to come across as a ‘gold digger’ or someone who just cares about the money.’”
She also rightly points out that financial security for black women is a key element not only to our survival but to that of our families.
research shows that nearly 80 percent of black mothers are the sole breadwinners of their families, meaning their households depend on their wages to make ends meet and get ahead. Nearly four million Black families are headed by Black women, and more than one in four of these households live below the poverty line.
These sobering numbers underscore Kennedy’s mission to empower black women on their journey to financial well-being.
“We have every right to ask the right questions in our relationships, to inquire about debt, to inquire about credit, to inquire about income — because on the other hand, when we have to go out into this world, we are paid less , we struggle to pay off debt and face other factors that affect us just because we are black women.
After she finalized her divorce in 2015, Kennedy said it took her about three years to pay it all off. While organizing her own finances, she decided to share her insights with other women along the way. Her personable and authentic way of articulating difficult financial concepts caught on like wildfire. Now she’s teaching people across the country how to make better use of their money. One of their partners in this process is sovereign debt forgiveness, an organization that helps millions of Americans achieve financial independence.
“National Debt Relief reached out to me after seeing some of my content and the authentic way I talk about debt on my platform,” she shared. “I’m really striving to present financial talks in a way that humanizes the impact of debt. National Debt Relief is staffed with debt specialists who are there to help and guide you through this journey because being in debt will make you feel so bad you don’t want to do it alone.
In addition to regularly distributing in-depth financial tips on her social platforms, she hosts courses, workshops and courses attended by thousands of participants. It’s especially rewarding because Kennedy says she sees herself in the people she helps.
“When I was going through financial stress, I named my platform Broke Black Girl because that’s who I was at the time,” she shared. “I kept the name because so many women resonate with it and now see it as a safe place. That’s what I’m about.”