Let’s talk about money
This week, I (Rebecca) posted about an upcoming cohort on social media and this was one of the responses:
I’m personally not going to attend this seminar. I learned in school and on the news how terrible the white race has been. I choose not to be like that. I’m pretty understanding of everyone’s views. But if you really want to teach equality than don’t charge $600 for a class you can literally learn in a free class. That also ticks me off since I know a lot of us can not even afford the $100 deposit. It shouldn’t cost a dime to do this stuff.
This sentiment is not new
In fact, it’s a critique that happens with such frequency that it brings up a lot of feelings for us.
Jomo: Being told that my labor with white people is worth nothing is offensive and painful. What I hear is you prioritizing yourself over my freedom from oppression and the ways I seek to provide for my family through those methods. This takes me to dark places in my self that require a lot of emotional labor to get back out of.
Rebecca: The pain of watching Jomo go through and climb out of the impact of white dominance makes me feel enraged. I’m watching this work suck life from him. I feel embarrassed that any of my people still imagine ourselves above white dominance while refusing to give anything up.
What we both know is that if one white person feels this way, others do too. While we spend the bulk of our time pointing toward what liberation from white dominance looks, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes like – there are times we feel we need to directly address how white dominance is showing up. This is one of those times.
No matter what we charge
In 2016 we charged nothing for a 5-month cohort. White people still quit because they didn’t think we should single out white people and didn’t want to do any homework.
In 2017 we charged $150 for a 6-month cohort. We gave no less than 60 hours of our time over the lifetime of the cohort for studying, preparing, and facilitating while some white people said that our time wasn’t worth payment and we were giving too much homework.
In 2017 to 2019 we asked for a $100 deposit for a 6-month cohort and asked participants to decide how much value their learning was worth and couple that with their economic ability. Here’s some of what we learned from pricing this way:
- Every person that was given a 100% scholarship, didn’t attend past the halfway mark.
- Participants who work in upper 5 and 6 figure jobs are not the ones paying the most.
- Participants struggle to talk about shifting their budgets to reflect their stated values.
- Those that paid us the highest with their money or time are fired up! They have stayed connected and they are pushing this work with their children, friendships, workplaces, vacations, budgets, and places where they hold power.
Why we are shifting
In the summer of 2019, I (Rebecca) met with a black female business coach to talk about goals for JORE. She told me that I was devaluing liberation work with our anti-capitalist model. She is 100% right and here’s some of what she helped me realize…
- Allowing white people to pay so little is entrenching white dominance by giving the impression that this work can bypass our wallets.
- Liberation work is costly – to discuss it any other way is to allow white people to think they are fighting white dominance while not giving anything up. Abolitionists that have gone before us have told us differently: liberation will cost us our minds, hearts, souls, wallets, time, talents, comfort, and safety.
- I was devaluing Jomo’s co-labor of our work and as the only white earner in my family that was not only wrong, it was irresponsible.
- As an organization that works mostly with white people and considering the wealth gap between black and white communities, not charging for our work does nothing to shift this gap.
To white people who want to dismantle white dominance
I (Rebecca) struggle with money. I don’t want it and I push it away. I was calling our low pricing an anti-capitalist model but in reality, it was a way to soothe my own issues with money. I keep telling you that liberation is costly – and I never required you to show up with your wallet. I’m sorry. I was wrong. White dominance is tied to racial capitalism and our community cannot keep the money we have and say that we are dismantling white dominance.
I don’t want us to stay stuck here so here’s a little homework for you. Please log in to your online banking and add up the total dollars spent toward your goal to abolish white dominance in yourself and your community over the past year. Divide that number by the total deposits so you can get a percentage. This percentage is the receipt of your commitment. I don’t need you to pay us unless you feel like what we offer helps you in your commitment. What Jomo and I are asking is that you think critically about whether you are ignoring your wallet, because if you are, that dissonance will eat you up.
To white people who say this work should be free
Our mission at JORE is for all people to be liberated from white dominance. So much anti-racism work focuses on what we are doing wrong instead of pointing toward the horizon of liberation. We have noted your concern and here is what we are calling you to…
Not all white people have economic privilege and it’s why our website explicitly states that no one will be turned away for lack of funds. If this is you and your concern with our pricing is rooted in the fact that you desperately want to come learn and legitimately don’t have the funds, please reach out. Tell us what you can pay or how you will partner with us in labor because regardless of how much money is flowing through any of our bank accounts, our budgets are moral documents. JORE is no exception. Even as we’ve struggled to pay our own bills because we weren’t charging white people hardly anything to come learn with us, 20% of our income goes to Indigenous, Black, and Brown people in solidarity with their liberation movements. We get by on very little, have no savings or retirement, and offer ourselves for free labor in alignment with our values. For Jomo, that’s his deepest passion – tech education initiatives with black youth which we encourage you to read more about. For Rebecca, building the Alliance of White Abolitionists which seeks to build community among white people for the purpose of intracultural abolition of white dominance.
For your reference, I (Jomo) spent my free labor to research where white people readily spend money while stating that my liberation from white dominance is too costly. Here’s my…
10 Reasons Why I Don’t Wanna Hear Shit About Paying JORE $100/month
1. iRobot Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum – $1099
2. Kensington Down Parka – $925
3. Sony 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV – $1498
4. BREO Box Annual Subscription – $600 per year
5. Bespoke Post Annual Subscription (100,000 subscribers) – $540 per year
6. FanChest Package – ultimate fan packs for the uber sports fan – $59-$140 per month
7. Blazers vs Nuggets PreSeason ticket – $63 and up
8. Robb Vices Box – wine, cigars, and the like – $99-$159 per month
9. Watch Gang – get a new watch every month – $99 per month
10. Owning a pet – $300-$400 per year before medical costs
If you still don’t think liberation is worth your money or your time, then we will rest on what black community members tell us often “don’t worry about the no, be present for the yes”. If your no ever turns to a yes, you know where to find us.
To our Indigenous, Black, and Brown audience
We (Jomo and Rebecca) welcome you to contact us at any time if you have concerns about our pricing. My (Jomo) presence at JORE is not for optics. I am involved in every aspect of our work from who we take as clients, curriculum development, and daily guidance to Rebecca about how she facilitates the spaces we are in. I do not facilitate because I refuse to submit myself to groups of white people for their emerging consciousness. I believe that this work is for white people to do in themselves and in their community. That said, my consistent feedback and voice as well as other Indigenous, Black, and Brown people who have relationships with Bec are what keep her part of our work accountable to its solidarity with our liberation movements.
We dream of liberation
This often means that white people will have to face hard truths of what’s happening in the white community (even in the white anti-racist community). How money is spent is one of those hard truths that must be faced if we are ever going to gain traction toward liberation.
We are with you. We believe in you. We love you. Let’s get after it!