After a car accident in 2012, Ruby Taylor suffered a brain injury that drove her into retirement as a school social worker. She was then evicted from her home. The parents of a former student who was helping Taylor with financial and legal advice asked her if she had any investments to fall back on. She didn’t. However, that moment gave her the idea of starting a business: bridging the racial gap through financial literacy and education. Here’s how she navigated these early days and how she hopes her efforts will pay off for black and brown children. – As Gabrielle Bienasz says
I went home one day and came to a red light. When the light turned green, I left. A car came out of nowhere and turned right in front of me. It was a T-bone.
I went to the neurologist and they said I had a traumatic brain injury. Doctors will run tests to see where you are cognitive and they will give you names like Michael, John, Peter, Ralph. They later ask, “What were these names I gave you?” I couldn’t return the names. I collapsed I was so emotional and very angry with myself at the time that I couldn’t do these basic tasks.
After the accident, my students’ parents came to check on me, give me food, and take me out. I made connections with them because I was there for the kids 24/7 as a social worker, and they saw that. One of the parents of my students said, “Ruby, what about your savings? Do you have any investments?” I said “investment what?” Then they enlightened me about stocks, mutual funds, and IRAs. I realized that despite my job, I had not built wealth.
I was a social worker and lived this life. I didn’t care about money. When I had it and someone needed it, it went there. I paid a private nurse for my mother and a private school for my nephew. And I covered everything my students needed. The county I worked for in Lancaster, Pennsylvania had socioeconomic status. But the majority of my students came from impoverished backgrounds. I would start book clubs, take them out, buy them clothes and trainers. It was stupid. I didn’t know not to give your last dollar.
And I know there are so many people like me As I had this conversation with my student’s parents, I realized that generational wealth is a huge problem in the black community and is not a result of work – we work hard. Some of us don’t have the financial knowledge to make the decisions needed to fill the wealth gap. Systemic racism contributes to this lack of knowledge. I read that the median net worth of African Americans will be zero by 2053.
I was permanently employed in the school system. After the accident, I got retirement and a disability. I spoke to the housing company, made them aware of my circumstances, and then started making payments. With a drug, Aricept, that helps your short-term memory, the doctors, and lots of prayer, I could feel like myself maybe two years later.
Even so, I was unable to do full social work because of my injury. I felt like I had to find another way to strengthen, inspire and make a difference in our world. I decided to find out what I could do to help black and brown children fill the wealth gap.
I thought about some of the tools I had used as a social worker. My kids at school loved games. There is a socialization that occurs when children play card or board games that help hold information. I used games to teach my students social skills. I figured if I can do that to a game, I can teach them finance too. If they can learn about careers, investing, and assets in a fun way, that’s how I can make a difference.
I started asking the young people in my life, “What kinds of card games do you like?” Everyone said, “I love Uno.” So, I think I’m going to make a pick a card game, but with riches. I started reaching out to people who have card games for tips and teaching me what to do and from then on I started creating the structure of the game called Legacy!
There are five rounds in Legacy! In the first round you choose a career. I wanted to expose children to careers other than social workers, teachers, police officers – people they see regularly. I also wanted to show them how much money they can make in different careers and teach them to choose careers that pay them a salary that matches their debt ratio.
The next round is investments. Once you have your career, you need to invest your money. Let the money work for you. You can’t just give it away. After that, it’s assets. Despite my jacked up finances, I owned my apartment. If I had rented, they would have kicked me out.
When I completed the structure, I hired a graphic designer, who was also an artist, to create a concept deck. For the colors of the deck, I chose purple and gold to represent the royal family – a kind of old building that has lasted for centuries.
My friend suggested doing a Kickstarter after creating the concept deck to see if people wanted the product. My goal was a minimum of $ 500 but we raised $ 6,298 which is twice my monthly income. I used this money to create an amazing website and hire a company to make the cards. And that’s where people can pre-order the game, which will ship from December 2020.
My plan for 2021 is to focus directly on the consumer. Now I will create steady awareness of the game by contacting banks, organizations, churches, friends and family and trying to build relationships with companies that are also trying to fill the wealth gap. Then at some point I can hire someone to take care of retail.
Because of my injury, I have to move myself and my brain up and down. And I’m a black disabled lesbian stutterer – I just check every damn box. But I have no one to say you should listen to her even if she trips. If you just wait, she has something good to say about it. But that doesn’t stop me. I will still say what I have to say. I will still keep pushing. I give myself the grace to know that I am limited – but I am not incapable.