Did you know that the projections for black and Latinx wealth in 2050 have already been made? Systems are making financial projections based on the current data trends, and let me tell you, it’s bleak.
In today’s conversation, I am joined by special guest De’Von Truvel, creator of the game Play Black Wall Street. We talk about the future of Black wealth in America and why we MUST change the words that are spoken over spoken over our lives.
This was an especially inspiring and emotional conversation as we both recently returned from a trip to Ghana. You’ll hear how the trip affected us and how we were both empowered to learn the true beginning of Black history and the resilient nature of our culture.
In this episode, you’ll also hear how De’Von first developed the concept for Play Black Wallstreet and how it became an entire business over time. He shares excellent lessons on overcoming perfectionism, creating an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and what it was like to work with business investors and advisors who don’t fully understand his project.
De’Von has a big vision for his company and Play Black Wall Street, is only one piece of the puzzle. Tune in to hear De’Von’s multi-layered approach building his business and bulidng up his people through edu-tainment.
This episide is a great one!
What You’ll Learn On This Episode:
- [02:58] The most valuable thing Asha learned by visiting Ghana
- [04:50] What was most impactful for De’Von during his trip to Ghana
- [08:25] The story of how De’Von created his game, Play Black Wall Street
- [14:29] Why he created Play Black Wall Street as a company
- [17:43] De’Von’s relationship with perfectionism; both a superpower and an Achilles’ heel
- [21:15] Some of the biggest hurdles that De’Von faced on the road to creating the game
- [28:48] The big vision for Play Black Wall Street
- [34:19] Why De’Von considers himself an African futurist
- [36:20] The future of Black wealth and our power as entrepreneurs and creatives
- [43:40] How De’Von uses the power of words of affirmation to reprogram his thinking
- Learn more about the TRANSCEND Community
- Get the New Business Checklist for free
- Need help forming your LLC in California? Check out From Me to LLC
- De’Von’s book, Black Future Month
- Play Black Wall Street on Instagram
- Play Black Wall Street on YouTube
Connect With Us:
- On Instagram | @ashawilkersonesq
- On Facebook | @ashawilkersonesq
- Connect with Asha on LinkedIn!
- Subscribe to our YouTube channel!
Connect with De’Von Truvel:
- On Instagram | @devontruvel
- Website | Play Black Wall Street
[0:00:00.5] AW: Hey everyone, I’m really excited for this episode that you are about to listen to and I want to tell you that it’s a recap of my trip to Ghana with one of my colleagues that I met there and all about his game teaching not just Black folks but all folks about the history of Black wealth in the United States with a really awesome game called Play Black Wall Street.
Also, I get a little emotional in this episode so it’s towards the end, you’re going to have to listen to the whole thing to hear exactly why I get emotional and what I have to say about it, which is, I don’t know, it’s new for me to get emotional but it’s certainly new for me to let everybody hear it. So tune in, let me know what you think about the episode and yeah, have at it.
[0:00:50.0] AW: You’re listening to the Transcend Podcast. I’m your host, Asha Wilkerson, an attorney by training and an educator at heart. This podcast is all about empowering you to build a business and leave a legacy. Here’s the thing, the wealth gap in America is consistently increasing and while full-time entrepreneurship is not for everyone, even a side hustle could change your financial landscape if you’re intentional about using your business to build wealth. I’ve run my own law firm for over 10 years, and in that time, I’ve helped countless California businesses go from idea to six figures. On this podcast, we talk about what it truly takes to build a sustainable business and find financial freedom. Let’s dive in.
[0:01:35.3] AW: So welcome back to another episode of Transcend the Podcast. I am super excited to have you here this week like I am every week. I know I say that every week but this week, we have a special guest, De’Von Truvel who is not only here as an entrepreneur and creator of Play Black Wall Street but also, as a colleague and educator and we were just talking about before we started recording, what our experience in Ghana was like and I thought, let’s just actually record this to see what our takeaways were before we get into the entrepreneurial stuff that we are going to talk about today. So welcome De’Von.
[0:02:13.8] DT: Thank you Asha, I’m ready to transcend.
[0:02:16.2] AW: Yes, I like it. I like how you did that there. I appreciate that.
[0:02:21.1] DT: That’s just on brand, on brand.
[0:02:22.4] AW: Totally, totally. So we were just talking about being in Ghana and how it was really only two weeks ago I think or two and a half weeks ago that we were there and you were asking me what my experience has been like coming back, right?
[0:02:37.1] DT: Right.
[0:02:37.1] AW: Yeah, it’s been interesting. A part of me I feel like my brain hasn’t really had time to part or had the space to process, the time has been there but you jump right back into everything that you were doing before you left and you’d asked me, “What was the thing that stuck with me the most?” and I think the most valuable thing I realized is to really learn and see and visit your history and to know where you come from. I think particularly, as Black folks.
I’ve been telling my friends in America, our history starts with the slave trade and it’s a depressing, dark, oppressive, you know, history that inspires this sense of fortitude and this fight and always just having to struggle but one thing I learned in Ghana or what stood out for me was that, even though I knew it logically, I didn’t really know it emotionally. Our history as Black folks in the world started way before the slave trade.
[0:03:34.7] DT: Way before.
[0:03:35.8] AW: Yeah and so just knowing that was powerful, like the slave trade was an interruption to what was going on before and that wasn’t the beginning of our experience or existence. It was an interruption to a thriving communities of people and places, doing their thing, living life, you know, thriving and there is this disruption that were still recovering from all the way around the world.
[0:04:04.1] DT: Right and it was beautiful to be able to experience the language, the dancing, the food, the culture, like all of that and there are a lot of bridges, a lot of connections, even after the interruption, like, there’s still so much resilient culture that we have as African-American or African [inaudible 0:04:20.4] to where I was tasing some food, I was eating kelewele or the plantains and I was like, “This is just like Jamaican plantains.”
[0:04:27.6] AW: Right, totally.
[0:04:29.8] DT: I was eating some of the rice, I was like, “Ah, this is kind of like the rice that I eat in America.” So it’s just, you know, also cool to see what still was passed on even through the interruption.
[0:04:40.5] AW: Absolutely, yeah. What else was impactful for you? Either as a business owners, as an educator, just as a Black man in the US, what did you take away?
[0:04:50.4] DT: So as a Black man in the US and as someone who finds themselves as usually playing the “rebel of revolutionary” in some aspects, going to the Cape Coast dungeons and really experiencing, walking through those dungeons, specifically the male dungeon. No windows, no holes for oxygen, no food.
[0:05:14.6] AW: No toilet.
[0:05:16.1] DT: No toilet and when we were in there, they closed the door on us and it was just pitch Black and you really had to like, sit there. Again, me, putting myself in that position, like, what I have, the bravery, the strength, the courage to rebel, to be revolutionary in that setting.
[0:05:33.1] AW: Right.
[0:05:33.5] DT: And so many of our ancestors did. So it was – I think that’s one of the thing that’s really bringing, that’s come back home with me is that concept of you need to be courageous as like your ancestors were because you have way less to lose than they did.
[0:05:48.1] AW: Right.
[0:05:48.8] DT: They were literally battling for their life, just unhuman, un-humane circumstances but today, you know, you put something out on social media for the cause, you might lose a follower or two but you know, nothing crazy is going to happen. So it really encouraged me to be brave in walking my purpose more when I came back home.
[0:06:07.1] AW: Yeah, the perspective shift, right?
[0:06:10.2] DT: Oh yeah.
[0:06:10.6] AW: I think about that also, just even in an airplane, right? Where the small little teeny tiny speck of an organism, I guess, a little bigger than a speck but this world is so big and there’s so much stuff going on and in our world, you know, we’re always the main character and everything revolves around us, not negatively so, that’s just where we are, right?
We’re in our bodies but being able to step back or step up, look above, look from above down below to see that there are all these people as individuals. We’re small but large, we’re small but connected, we’re separate but you know, all trying to get to the same things of independence, you know, financial independence, independent time independence.
You know, freedom, wealth, prosperity, all of that stuff, right? No matter what continent we’re on or what city we’re in. I think those are kind of our basic goals as humans.
[0:07:06.8] DT: Right. Oh yeah, I don’t want to get us too much on a tangent before we even get, get going but you talked about, you know, as above so below, which is a hermetic principle from The Kybalion, right? It’s an ancient hermetic principle or thought process that lets us know, what is above is the same thing as below. So when we look at how the stars and the galaxies are aligned, it’s very similar to even how ourselves and microorganisms work within us.
[0:07:30.5] AW: Right.
[0:07:31.5] DT: We can consider ourselves as a walking universes or walking galaxies. It’s like, I don’t want to go too far deep, I know we just started but you got me rolling in the “as above, so below” situation.
[0:07:43.1] AW: Yeah. Well, that’s what we do. I mean, you know, I’m not scripted on this podcast. We just go, you know, where the spirit leads us. We will go and see what happens, see what happens.
[0:07:52.2] DT: All right, if I go into any rabbit holes, pull me out.
[0:07:55.8] AW: Absolutely, absolutely. So well, how did it, so you said, coming back from Ghana inspired you to work a little bit more in your purpose and one of the things that you have created through your purpose is this game called, Play Black Wall Street. So tell us a little bit about that, what inspired it and how you are renewed in your push to educate the world, really, about Black history?
[0:08:20.3] DT: Wow, happy to go into it and this is one of those things where if I go into the rabbit hole, pull me out.
[0:08:24.5] AW: Okay, I got you.
[0:08:25.1] DT: But it was really interesting because I took my first AAS class, African-American Studies Class at UC Davis in 2011 and my professor was Andrea Smith Moore and you know, we talked about a lot of things within Black history but I remember specifically spending a day learning about Tulsa, learning about Gray one and Black Wall Street and really being inspired because there had never been a time in history, right?
Where I learned as a Black man that I have the potential to build a city and that had never been presented to me as a student, as a scholar, as a Black man. So to see that this group of people built a city and they had the hospital, they had private airplanes by Sam and Barry. You met him, TJ Walker Beauty Salon, restaurants, I was just real, real geeked up, right? So after I graduated from college, I worked at summer camp and my camper name was Black Wall Street.
[0:09:18.9] AW: Nice.
[0:09:19.7] DT: Right, it was a good vibe, right?
[0:09:21.5] AW: I like it.
[0:09:22.8] DT: That’s what it is. I spent the drive like, “What’s my name going to be?” I was like, “Black Wall Street” and then, at the camp, all the students were asking me like, “Why is your name Black Wall Street? What does that mean? Is that like, the Black version of the stock market in New York, what is that?”
So, I had to keep explaining to these middle school students, high school students and even college students, what Black wall street was. So even that camp, I was like, “All right, how can I make it fun for you all to actually learn about Tulsa’s Black Wall Street? What can I do?” For me, gameplay was always a thing growing up, right? Pokémon, Digimon, Beyblades, Dominos, Spades, you name it, right? Family reunions was popping.
[0:10:00.7] AW: The first three that you named let me know that I’m a few years older than you but the rest…
[0:10:05.9] DT: The rest it’s about time, Domino, Spades, classics.
[0:10:10.3] AW: There we go, there we go.
[0:10:11.7] DT: But yeah, just grew up really love playing games with folks. So that’s where thought came in. So I actually have the first edition, I don’t think I have any prototypes over here. Well, the first edition here, this was made in 2018 of the boardgame and I was able to bring these back up to the camp when I went the following year to some of the kids into the founder of Village Nation, Fluke Fluker and then we have the second edition that’s above my head, that I don’t think you all see.
The second edition right here, this is the flagship and we’ve been selling this since 2019 and then we made the masterpiece edition in 2021, after the hundredth-year commemoration of Tulsa’s bombing, the Tulsa massacre. So leaving Africa, Ghana, I think I was re-energized for it because I was asking some people about what they know about American history, right? You all know about the Black panthers? You all know about Tulsa’s Black Wall Street? You all know…
[0:11:10.2] AW: You’re asking Ghanaians or our… okay.
[0:11:12.4] DT: Ghanaians, right? So some of the university at Cape Coast students, some of our tour guides who had just so much information about Africa and anywhere about our African-American history as well but there are some aspects that they weren’t learning in their books or in their school system.
So starting to just realize how universal games are like universal animation and cartoons and storytelling is and how I can be a tool to help transform Black history, transform some of those historical events in American history and African history into fun family games for kids to play and learn.
[0:11:47.6] AW: Yeah, I love it. At what point did it occur to you to turn it into a business or to sell it? Because I’m – and I’m going to preface that because I have seen you with a number of video cameras and cameras, you have a creative energy about you. I can tell, you are a creative.
You’re a creative. Oftentimes, creatives in our country feel like, “Well, I’m just a creative, I’ll never be able to make any money” right? Or “I shouldn’t charge for my art” whatever those limiting beliefs that we have around art in this country. I know a number of people, my friends included who are like, “Well, I’m an artist, I’m a writer, I’ll never make any money.” So what got you to think about how can I sell this and maybe turn it into a business?
[0:12:29.9] DT: That is a great question. So I think growing up, I was surrounded by business folks. So my grandma was a real estate broker, a real estate agent and eventually, she started her own brokerage company. She also you know, raised me and watched me for some time.
So there would be summers where she would bring me into her office, Great Circle Realty, right? And I would be there. I would see her answering the phones, I would go out on lunch appointments with her so I just – I grew up with that entrepreneurship environment and when I got into middle school, my mom also had a business, right?
So we went thrift store shopping on the weekends, you know, blue tags, red tags, those are the big sales in the thrift stores. We’re looking for some high end fashion stuff and then we would resell it online and my job was to package up the shipments and then be able to get them ready for postage the next day or the next week.
Now, I’m not going to front you all, actually before I get into about my story, that is the first and only job I’ve ever got fired in.
[0:13:26.2] AW: Working for your mother?
[0:13:27.8] DT: Working for my mama. She fired me. There was one day during the summer. Look, it was hot, it was like a hundred and something in the valley, I was tired and she was like, “I’ll be right back, I need you to package up these shipments, they need to go out today De’Von, it’s important” I was like, “All right, I got you” I’m like, 12, 13 years old. I fall asleep, okay?
I fall asleep, it was like seven AM, eight AM. I fall asleep, she comes back at 11 and nothing’s packed up. She’s like, “De’Von, what happened?” I was like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll pack it up.” She’s like, “No, you’re fired, just stop” I never worked for my mom again. I don’t think I ever worked for a family member again after that moment.
[0:14:03.9] AW: I love it, right? Because you didn’t get any passes. Just because you were the son, you know, you still had to pull your weight.
[0:14:09.9] DT: Yeah, I was cut and then after that I got kind of working for a farm and then I worked for McDonalds and then again never got fired after that because I took it very seriously. It was a really great lesson as a business person, as entrepreneur, you need to do your responsibilities. So zooming, fast forward to why we created Play Black Wall Street as an actual company, twofold, immediate, right?
Very short-term, well, I had just got engaged right before the idea of Tulsa’s Black or Black Wall Street the board game. So I was already thinking either I’m going to drive Uber, I’m going to you know, do some type of side hustle to make extra money, to pay for this beautiful wedding that my queen deserves or I’m going to star this business.
We’re going to transform this creativity, we’re going to transform this boardgame into something that can create revenue and the revenue from the boardgame is what’s going to pay for the wedding. So you can tell which option we went with, right? I chose not to drive Uber, instead, we go ahead and we monetized the game but number two, the goal is – has always been, has always, for the past seven years, has been be able to work for ourselves, right?
We want to be able to create generational wealth, build an actual business builder enterprise, hire employees and eventually hire our kids and eventually, not have to work a nine to five, only have to work for our own Play Black Wall Street Business and to do that, you need to build a business model, you need to make money. So…
[0:15:37.6] AW: Absolutely.
[0:15:38.1] DT: Long story short, there you go.
[0:15:40.7] AW: There is a couple of beautiful things that I want to highlight in there because you know, our audience is entrepreneurs and a lot of us don‘t have kids. Some of us do have kids but even if you are taking your niece or your nephew or your godchildren or your friend’s kids and bringing them in, just exposing them to the business. You had mentioned your grandmother and going with her and how impactful that was, even if she wasn’t telling you, “Baby, this is what I need to do.”
You’re seeing how she’s moving and grooving and you know, that’s already planting the idea that you can one day become a business owner and for people who do have kids again, you know, your mom had asked you to do this task of packaging up the items, not particularly challenging but still instilled some responsibility.
[0:16:22.1] DT: Hey, it was hard, hold up now, hey, sometimes the jeans didn’t fit, you got to double tape. Listen, it was very difficult.
[0:16:28.5] AW: My bad, my bad but I mean, I’m not minimizing the work you put in. I appreciate that, I will respect the hustle, respect the job description that you had but right, something that needed to get done and she plugged you in at a level that you could actually do it and you know, you learned that that was part of the process of making money as well.
So you had a lot of exposure growing up which is fantastic. The last thing that you said is that, you needed to make some money, you wanted to make some money to make this wedding happen at a way that was more financially comfortable so you had a couple of options.
I could go drive Uber or I could put some intention behind this creative idea that I have and monetize it and benefit my immediate community and I think that that’s super powerful. That’s why people start side hustles and then hey, sometimes folks be like, “Well, I’ve got to have it all figured out, I got to know exactly what’s going to happen” and just delay the start date.
So my next question for you then is, how did you – When you started, did you feel like you had to have it perfect when you started or were you okay knowing that you were going to have different iterations of the game or did you know you were going to have different iterations of the game?
[0:17:44.2] DT: Yeah, so starting out, first off, I’m not a perfectionist, right? I’m a person who, like, I like movement, I like progression, I like getting stuff done. I am not someone who is like, it needs to happen perfectly the firs time. No, that is my super power but also sometimes my Achilles heel in business.
I will say, the first ever version that we made, right? Our MVP, minimum viable product of our business was a cardboard box. It was a UHAUL cutout, a cardboard box, markers to design the board, right? We used thumb tacks as the player pieces, we stole dice from this small game called Monopoly and then we used PowerPoint as our business cards.
That was the first version and you know, me and the queen, we played that version, we see like, “Okay, does this work, do the cards make sense, does the business space out makes sense?” From there, we went to a Walmart printout.
Again, I just made something on like I think either PowerPoint or Google draw, made a circular board because I wanted it to represent cooperative economics and unity. So I made a circular board, printed it out at Walmart, glued it on to a cardboard box, same thumb tacks, same dice, same PowerPoint, we were still rolling, right?
Now, from there, we then were like, “Okay, this is real now. It can happen” this is an idea that started in our imagination and now it is a physical product, let analysis perfect it. I can’t draw Asha, I’m going to be real with you.
[0:19:17.4] AW: Neither can I.
[0:19:19.6] DT: Okay, in solidarity, my sister. I cannot draw. So I reached out to one of my brothers, Markell from Rare X who is an amazing artist and I was like, “Bro, this is my idea, this is where I want to take it. Can you help me?” right? “I got the history, I got the rules, I got the manufacturing, I’m going to pay for everything. I need your artwork, I need your brilliance in making this look like a beautiful game.”
We came to a business agreement. Boom, like two months later, we had a beautiful prototype of the game, got that created and then ever since then, we’re making new additions every two or so years. So I would say, it didn’t start off with a full vision, right? All I knew was I wanted to teach the history of Tulsa Black Wall Street through this boardgame. That’s what I started off with and we just, you know, got better and better each time that we create it.
[0:20:13.8] AW: I think you almost have to not be a perfectionist to really survive entrepreneurship because…
[0:20:19.5] DT: That’s a fact, that’s a fact.
[0:20:21.4] AW: Because trying to get it running and I’m guilty of this sometimes and I know some of my friends are, like, it has to be perfect and that MVP, the minimum viable product, what can you put into the market, test it, see how it’s going to work and know that it’s going to change. Nothing stays the same, right?
You might want to add more facts, you might want to change the rule of the game, you might want a new design, you might want to, whatever, new pieces, things like that and I think we owe it to ourselves to leave room for the improvement and if we try to get it right the first time, it’s, you want to do it well but getting it right, what is getting it right, you know?
What does that mean? What were some of the biggest hurdles that you had to overcome in terms of producing this game?
[0:21:04.3] DT: Ooh, biggest hurdles. Okay, so I think the first biggest hurdle was the fact that I had to let go of my pride a little bit and realizing that I couldn’t do this by myself or realizing that, “Damn, okay, if I really want to make a game that is profitable, if I want to make a game that is really paying homage to the history of Tulsa Black Wall Street, it’s not going to be the drawings that De’Von can do.”
So, go ahead and reach out to someone else, maybe give up a little bit of the profit in order to actually make this real, that was number one. Another huge barrier that we had to overcome, we were in a business incubator over at UC Riverside. We’re the only, there was two Black groups, right? So there was us and there was another group that identified as Black but we were the only group that was making something that was Blackity Black, Black, okay?
[0:21:52.2] AW: Right, right.
[0:21:54.7] DT: And we were the only group in phase two of that incubator that was Black and making something Blackity Black, Black and what happened was, there were some venture capitalist who, you know, possibly had really good intentions in trying to support us but they were saying, “Can you remove the word Black from your business?” right?
Our product was, Black Wall Street the board game and they were like, “Okay, I like this idea but we think it will be more marketable, we think you would be able to get more investors if you take out the word Black and you create, you know, Wall Street the board game or the button wood agreement. Just do something else that’s around the stock market.”
And we had to keep every single week, reiterating that this is not a stock market game. There is a real community named Black Wall Street. A real community name Greenwood, named Little Africa and this game is paying homage to that true history. So if we renamed the game, if we rename the brand, that would be disrespecting that history and so we lost a lot of money Asha.
We lost a lot of money, a lot of opportunities, a lot of mentors because we didn’t budge on changing the name. We didn’t budge on our morals, we didn’t budge on paying respect and homage to Tulsa Black Wall Street. So that was another very difficult thing as a young entrepreneur coming up to say, you know, no to thousands of dollars, potentially millions of dollars because of a name change.
It was like, “Ooh, did we make the right decision?” and the answer is yes but there was definitely some long nights where I was like, “Man, what would our life be like if we had taken that investor’s money or if we had partnered with this person?”
[0:23:29.8] AW: Right.
[0:23:30.3] DT: And then the third barrier I think is the, just balance of putting your heart, putting your soul into the business but still being a good husband, still being a good son, still being a “good employee” like you want to make sure you’re balancing all your other identities and responsibilities but you also want to make sure that your baby, your business gets as much love as it needs to grow.
So definitely a lot of long nights, early mornings at the beginning but it got to a good groove now but those are probably my three big barriers.
[0:24:05.5] AW: Yeah. Thank you for sharing those. Two of those remind me of two podcast I just did. One, or maybe it was email I wrote, show up as who you are, right? Show really showing up as who you are and being an integrity and one of the lines I wrote is that, “You know, sometimes, we’re afraid that people won’t hire us because of the way that our hair looks or the accent that we have.”
I’m like, show up with your curls popping and your accent accenting anyway because if you move and groove out of alignment like you may have had those millions of dollars but I can’t like, something internally because it would have changed the essence of what you were trying to convey.
It would have changed the history, it would have minimized that just like they talk about now in schools. I’ve heard in Texas where if they don’t talk about the slave trade, they talk about immigrants from Africa. That is not what I learned, that is not what my folks survived. They totally minimizes and dismisses what do you experience of a whole, not just groups of people, whole nation, the whole United States was built on the backs of Black labor, right?
So you know, to do things that are in alignment and often times, it’s uncomfortable because we’re human and we want to be accepted and we want to get money but you know, even as a more sort of tangible example, my mom was really afraid that if I didn’t have my hair pressed when I went to the law firm that I wasn’t going to get offered a full-time job.
I think I had done twists over the summer because it was summer, right? And I was like, I understand, it comes from somewhere, the fear was real, right? We had the crown act in California but also if I have to.
[0:25:38.3] DT: Finally.
[0:25:39.7] AW: Be uncomfortable in my own presentation. You know, if my natural hair, the way it grows out of my head is offensive, it’s just going to be offensive. I can’t, you know, I’m not going to bend over and you know, acquiesced to make folks feel comfortable when my natural state is deemed offensive and then the other thing you were talking about that balance.
So I just did have a podcast on using singleness as a super power and entrepreneurship and it can be a super power because you really only have to focus on you and your responsibilities. So I was saying to anyone that’s out there that’s like, “Oh, I really want to be in a relationship” that’s fine but also, maximize the season that you’re in because when you start adding on more responsibilities, your time is more – you have to be more intentional about where you spend your time because you have more responsibilities that will take up some of your time.
[0:26:32.3] DT: That’s real, that’s real. I want to double down on the hair thing because when I got my first job out of college, I used to have like a nice afro and I was about to lock for the first time back in 2016 when I got my first job but my mentor who was an associate vice chancellor at the time, Walter Robinson, RIP.
He was like, “Don’t do it. If you lock your hair this early, you will not get promoted, you will not be able to really make the moves that you want.” So I cut my hair, my wings were popping but I wanted the locks back then and then finally when, you know, COVID came and we had the opportunity to be in our house, we had the opportunity to really rediscover who we are and what we wanted to do, I started my lock journey again.
And then I started being on camera for some work interviews or work meetings and I was already starting to get comments from people, not good comments either. Like, “Oh, are you going to cut your hair?” or “Oh…”
[0:27:31.3] AW: What happened?
[0:27:32.3] DT: Yeah, just like, “Yeah, no” and that’s where I decided, “Okay, I’m going to leave this job and go ahead and go somewhere where I can be myself” be comfortable, maybe even get some lock tips from people that I’m working for instead.
[0:27:47.8] AW: Yeah, there’s something about you know, our parent’s generation didn’t have that luxury, right? Like it is a privilege to say, “I don’t want to work for you, I’m going to go find some place that feels more affirming and in alignment.” My mom didn’t have that luxury. She grew up in segregated Jackson Mississippi and moved out west in the late 60s, early 70s and her experience is totally different.
So while we have that ability to do it, I think we better use it. We better decide where we want to go and really be free because you know, our ancestors, not even that far back fought for us to have this freedom to just be, to be without restrictions.
[0:28:27.7] DT: That’s a fact. Take advantage of it, take advantage of the singleness, take advantage of the ability to be pro Black at any space and know who you are, take advantage of all the privileges because there’s a lot of things that are oppressing us. So if you find something that is giving you a slight privilege or a leg up, lean into it.
[0:28:43.3] AW: Yeah, absolutely. So what is the big vision for Play Black Wall Street? I was checking out the website and I know that there is an education component to it as well not just the board games. So tell us a little bit about that.
[0:28:56.8] DT: Oh, I don’t know if there’s any little bit about the big vision, probably not because this is going to be another thing where it’s like, if I go in to the Black hole, pull me out, please.
[0:29:06.4] AW: Go ahead and give it to us.
[0:29:09.3] DT: So the first layer is all around education, right? So we had the honor, privilege of this year, starting to partner with two pretty large school districts out here in California where we’re doing financial literacy, mentorship programs.
It started off as a pilot at two schools and after school programs where we’re teaching, you know, how to start a business, we’re teaching about the history of Tulsa Black Wall Street, how to budget, how to buy your first home, all of that, all of that good stuff, teaching this to high school students, right?
Now, where we’re at five different classes or four different schools, five classes, same thing, teaching the history of Tulsa Black Wall Street finance literacy but now, we’re also partnering with economics classes and government classes and history classes, teaching it during school.
So the vision for education is really to be able to roll out Play Black Wall Street and roll out Black Wall Street the boardgame as a curriculum tool, a curriculum supplement for just educators all throughout California, that’s you know, a five-year plan, step one and then all throughout the nation, a 10-year plan step two.
How can we make sure that our students are learning the history of Tulsa Black Wall Street and other Black Wall Streets, right? Allensworth, Rosewood, Seneca Village, Bronzeville, Cemit, Mali, how can we teach them about all these great things?
[0:30:26.5] AW: Worldwide.
[0:30:26.4] DT: Worldwide, right? Why just be in America? Our brilliance is worldwide, so how can we teach through boardgames all that history. That’s step one, education. Step two and we have a campaign right now for our Rosen Rodney Series, this is an animated series of Rosen, her little brother Rodney, who traveled back in time to experience the magic and brilliance of Greenwood.
So this is going to be an eight-episode series. We got Kim Coles from Living Single to be a narrator on that and our, you know, tier two of education is entertainment. How can we create edutainment, how can we create animated series that are again, is teaching through a fun way?
So sent like the boardgame, Rosen Rodney are starting off in Greenwood but in their adventures through our book series and through the animated series, they’re also going to go to Seneca Village, they’re going to go to Bronzeville, they’re going to go to Mali, they’re going to go to Cemit and we want to kind of make the Black history version of Phineas and Ferb.
[0:31:30.1] AW: Okay.
[0:31:31.2] DT: We’re having that free version of a Sponge Bob, something that’s episodic, it’s cultural, people watching it every single day but you’re also learning real Black history at that same time.
[0:31:40.6] AW: Yeah.
[0:31:41.4] DT: And then, third level is actually being able to build our own institutions, right? So we have Play Black Wall Street Academy, which started off virtual in 2020, focusing a little bit more on our home schooling families during that time, we’re starting to also roll out Play Black Wall Street Academy and access to our online courses to school districts.
So students within the schools can also log in and take these ethnic studies courses within our website and then the third level of that vision is being able to have our own schools, our own buildings where even for after school program or if it’s just a legitimate school, people can come and learn this curriculum, learn how to start their own business, learn about history of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and other civilizations in a safe, amazing pro-Black environment.
So education, entertainment and then I guess, real estate development/building our own schools are the three things that we’re focused on for the next probably 15 years.
[0:32:41.7] AW: Yeah. I love it. It’s like a global comprehensive thing not just one area but they all support each other as well, right? So you have the tools that you can put into existing classrooms but you would also put in your own classrooms and your own revenue as well and also, you know, I feel like sometimes the older generations are like, “How come you don’t know this?” right? I was doing a workshop with a friend of mine.
[0:33:04.8] DT: Yeah, it was, you’re full.
[0:33:04.7] AW: But I know, that’s my favorite cross-cultural gestures that being right especially because I decide what it means no like that’s universal but my friend, a great friend is really heavily invested into politics and we were talking about educating some of our friends on the ballot measures that were coming up. It’s like, “How people not know this?”
I was like, “Most people don’t know this.” most people don’t know where to look up the ballot measures or how to research the candidates that are running and I said, “Instead of being frustrated by what people don’t know, let’s figure out how to reach people where they are so we could teach them how to know and how to figure it out.”
So I love that you were going to where the students are at, reaching them and the way that they want to be reached with entertaining content so that they can learn about themselves and also what’s possible for the future. So it’s not just this is your history which is important but it’s also, here’s how you can use these tools that will help you create your own future and history, if you will, moving forward.
[0:34:07.9] DT: Yeah.
[0:34:08.2] AW: So, kudos to you.
[0:34:10.6] DT: Thank you. I accept that, I receive that, I appreciate you pouring into my cup this morning or this afternoon, that’s a lot of love. I will say that I’m a afro-futurist and I’ve even written a book called Black Future Month, where every June, we put on programming centered around helping people future out what is their vision for the future. There was a stat that came out, I think in like 2016, 2018 that said by the year 2053, the median Black family wealth will be zero or something.
[0:34:42.7] AW: Oh, it’s already like, super low, it’s only a few thousand dollars right now.
[0:34:47.5] DT: Right, the average right now is at 17,000, I don’t know what the median is but the average right now is about 17,000. So at that point, it was like, “Okay, that’s what they are saying our future is” but they have – right, they said zero but they had no idea what the potential this next generation is, right? They couldn’t put that into their algorithm.
There’s people that aren’t even born yet that will be alive in 2053 that is not in their algorithm. So how can we put content, how can we put games, how can we put animated series, how can we put podcast into the universe for future people to be able to consume, to change this apparent future that they’re trying to create for us?
[0:35:27.0] AW: Yeah, that just gave me chills because I was thinking about… and it just kind of made me emotional for some reason.
[0:35:33.3] DT: Well, talk to me, let’s do it.
[0:35:38.7] AW: Taking a minute but just thinking about how people are always speaking over our lives.
[0:35:48.0] DT: Yeah.
[0:35:50.8] AW: And usually we talk about that and we talk about it in church, you know? You know, speak it into existence, speak positivity over someone’s life but they, the “they” whoever it is, they, that’s out there is saying that we will have zero wealth by 2052. People are speaking over your life.
[0:36:14.6] DT: Yeah.
[0:36:15.8] AW: All the time. And I think it is so important for us to be the entrepreneurs, to be the creators, to be the educators. Black and brown folks who have been so oppressed by colonization who have been destroyed, communities destroyed, identities destroyed, languages destroyed and butchered and pieced back together and then told they’re not good enough, to really speak into our own lives and be our own creators.
[0:36:49.5] DT: Yes.
[0:36:52.1] AW: Because some, they, the they, the infamous they are doing it anyway and it is so important for us to take our power back in whatever way that we can because I don’t want my little nieces and nephews or future kids to be determined by a test score, to be determined by what somebody else who doesn’t know me or know them, things that’s possible by somebody else who is actively invested in our downfall or our demise or our lack of success because somebody is making money off of it somewhere.
Somebody is benefiting from us not succeeding and it is so important that we take our own identity and power back to speak into ourselves and to change our trajectory, continue to support our trajectory because it’s happening. It’s already being programmed so like, we got to step in. We can’t be passive about it anymore, we have to. We just have to do it, we got to do it.
[0:38:02.5] DT: And when you say it’s already being programmed, can you take that statement one level further? What do you mean by it’s already being programmed?
[0:38:11.6] AW: Well, just the idea that there are projections that are made based on what’s happening right now, all the time, right? So we know, or it’s projected that our generation won’t have social security because you know, the baby boomers are so numerous and the next generation is smaller than that and the next generation is even smaller, right?
Or the school to prison pipeline, they’re making prison beds projected off of fourth grade test scores, right? There is, there are systems or places, businesses, governments that aren’t analyzing the data of who we are and how we are right now and making future projections, buildings, right? Resources, based on what is happening right now.
So there is a plan. Sometimes I’m like, “Well, who is the “they” and I don’t totally know who “they” is?” right? But there is some government collective or something, some council of old white men out there that are making decisions about how this country is going to run, who is going to benefit.
You know, I don’t think it’s an accident at all that the abortion rate’s got repelled because people are waiting longer and longer to have children and white folks are also waiting longer and longer to have children and especially in California, in the next, what, by 2045 or 2050, something like that. California is expected to be predominantly minority, which is an oxymoron, right?
[0:39:46.2] DT: Right, the words put, predominantly minority.
[0:39:50.0] AW: Minority state, right? Meaning that there will be fewer white folks than there are, you know, Black, brown and other folks, right? So there is programming, there is prescription, there are already things that are written based on what the expectation is in the future. I mean, it’s not an accident that we don’t know, really, our history, that most people don’t know about Black Wall Street.
It’s not an accident that our history in the United States as Black folks starts with the slave trade. It’s not an accident that people are talking about immigrants from Latin America, particularly Mexican, the same Mexicans have crossed the border but the border actually crossed Mexico, most of California…
[0:40:38.0] DT: Right, California anything that is…
[0:40:38.9] AW: Right? Arizona and Nevada was Mexico. It was Mexican territory and the United States pushed the border back, took over and now, all of the folks who have the right to this land historically, right? Are now undocumented illegal have crossed the border, right? So there is the things that we are taught in schools.
You know, we are – we’re not educated, we’re just schooled. We’re taught enough to fall in line, not enough to really think reprogram, not enough to really think critically, we have to learn how to think critically for ourselves. So we can then teach each other about the history, right?
There is an under… you probably already named it, I can’t remember the name but an under-water community in Georgia, outside of Atlanta, right? That was thriving and white folks that massacred the town and then the government flooded the town. So now and now it’s a lake. The town is totally underwater and then there is you know, folklore that people keep drowning in the lake and they’re saying that it’s the answer but there was an entire town that was just erased and nobody really knows what it is.
Nobody knows what it is. You have to do your own research and maybe you follow some historian on Instagram, right? It was brought up on one of the latter history and for better or worse off of Instagram because you have to really do a diligent search to find out what it is and it’s so powerful to know that we have come from not just kings and queens but people, doctors, lawyers, accountants, right?
Business owners, masons, bankers, insurance folks, you know, entrepreneurs, we’ve had whole communities that were thriving. The present history of poverty, of fun violence, of drug addiction, of abuse, this negative things that get associated with Black people are present day conditions. That’s not our history, this is a moment in time but if we don’t know the history, this is the only thing that we know about ourselves.
[0:42:46.5] DT: Yeah, not only is it not our history, it is a, I hate to use the word symptom, but it is a symptom of the interruption, right? We are dealing with those things because of the experience that we were forced to go in and I do want to take it right back to programming because programming, I think sometimes has a negative connotation to it because we see it as social engineering and programming in there.
[0:43:13.8] AW: Right.
[0:43:14.3] DT: But if you take that science, that approach, you can make it positive, right? So one thing that I started doing maybe like five years ago is words of affirmations. Like these are so many negative words that get told to us that we consume on accident every single day, sometimes you know, growing up depending on how you grew up, words or negative words may have been said to you.
So being really intentional first thing in the morning to tell yourself, “I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am brilliant” right? “I am amazing, I am a positive impact in the world” and literally say that to yourself because words have vibrations and vibrations affect how we live, how we move. Number two, what are you watching? What are you reading, right? What are you listening to? What podcast are you listening to?
What movies are you watching? What TV shows are you watching? All of those things are going to impact your conscious and subconscious mind to program you to think about certain things. So just be intentional about that and try to use programming to your advantage because either way, you are going to get programmed, right? I think that is how our brains are wired like that just like our phones, just like our laptops, it’s going to happen. You might as well be intentional about what the result of that programming is for you.
[0:44:32.5] AW: Absolutely and whatever you’re subconscious believes, right? Whatever those connections are that you have made in your subconscious, that’s what you’re conscious is going to seek out.
[0:44:42.5] DT: Yes.
[0:44:43.2] AW: So even if we say one thing but you know like, I want to start a business but deep down you don’t really believe that you could do it, your actions are going to support, “I don’t know if I could do this” and so you have to not only tell yourself that new positive thought, those affirmations but you also have to disrupt those negative thoughts that are going through your brain, right?
That I’m not good enough or that I come from an immigrant family or I didn’t do that well in school, I didn’t go to a top school or I don’t know anyone else who will, all of those things, you have to cut those off and say, “I went to this school and that is enough.” I can, you know and it starts to program on top of that but you are absolutely right, that that’s just how our brain works. It is not a positive or a negative thing.
You know, like we both said, you got to be intentional about what you put in there and create your own program because people are always speaking over our lives and we need to be the ones to speak over our own lives individually and collectively to get back to where we are thriving and living and growing and being free people.
[0:45:49.0] DT: Say, you know, sorry I brought the tears out but you know?
[0:45:53.0] AW: That’s okay.
[0:45:54.9] DT: Really, what you do with this stuff, I appreciate you being vulnerable on your show, on your podcast and as you all can see, as you all can hear, completely unscripted. We’re just going with the vibe, going with the emotions and yeah, I just really appreciated that moment. Thank you.
[0:46:09.7] AW: Yeah, thank you. Well, I appreciate you coming today and for holding space for my emotion as well but where can people find you because you are a wealth of not only information creativity but also positivity and I need people, want people to connect with you.
[0:46:26.5] DT: Thank you. Well, you all can go to the business page, Play Black Wall Street, everything is spelled normal except Street is just St. Instagram @playBlackwallst. Also, help us get to our first thousand subscribers on YouTube. We’re at 901 right now, by the end of the year, we want to get to a thousand so that we can monetize and just give more content to folks and you can search us.
It’s just all normal, Play Black Wall Street, and I’ll just leave it at those two. Usually I do a lot of collaborative post with my own page. So if you follow Play Black Wall Street, eventually you will be exposed to De’Von Truvel as well.
[0:47:02.3] AW: Got it. Thank you so much De’Von. I hope you enjoy your weekend and I cannot wait to do this again. You will certainly be back, if I have anything to say about it, be back as a guest so we can do this again.
[0:47:13.4] DT: Let’s do it, love the conversation, love the vibes Asha.
[0:47:16.5] AW: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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