Black & Kind of Blue: Send Your Teen to College in Style

It’s back-to-school season, and I see many of my friends posting photos on social media about dropping their teens off at college. Sending a child to school away from home can bring on a flurry of mixed emotions. I know this firsthand, because I’m about to send my first-born daughter away in a couple of weeks. On one hand it’s very exciting to see your child reach this milestone in life. My 18-yr old is looking forward to her first year of college and gaining independence from the family nest, but I also detect a slight bit of nostalgia. While shopping for furnishings and decor for her college dorm room, she is also making photo collages of her high school friends to take along as comforting mementos of a life she is leaving behind.

Similarly, as parents, we may be planning what we’re going to do with the empty bedroom our child is vacating, particularly those of us who live in NYC apartments where space is at a premium. Yet, we may also be feeling kind of blue about the thought of our home being a little emptier and quieter once our teen has left. Then there’s the concern and worry about their safety away from home. What happens if an emergency occurs and you’re miles away? One way to ease the latter concern is to send your teen off to school with a secured credit card. Unlike adding them as an additional authorized user on one of your credit cards, giving your teen his or her own secured card with a set spending limit, can help teach them how to budget and prioritize their spending.

The “Mona,” “Lady Liberty” and “Amir” Visa cards from One United Bank, America’s largest Black-owned bank, make a statement with cool and colorful designs by Miami-based artist, Addonis Parker, whom I had the pleasure of meeting briefly a few years ago at Miami Art Basel.  The Bank hosted an event showcasing a mural he painted entitled, “Thunder and Lightning.” As the title implies, this mural, along with much of Addonis Parker’s work, seems to speak to the duality of life and humanity – the darkness and light, hope and fear, sadness and joy.

Parker’s pieces are bold and hard to ignore, not for the faint of heart, but instead for those who are unafraid to face the darkness of our journey as African-Americans. Yet, the beauty of his art and these cards goes deeper than the surface. They present an opportunity to teach teens about rising out of the darkness and taking control of our economic destiny through unity. And the fact that they are “secured” credit cards, means they are attached to a savings account and not accompanied by the exorbitant fees that are frequently associated with other high risk lending options.

The past and recent uprising of white supremacists and hate groups have illuminated the need to take matters into our own hands and instill in our youth the importance of helping each other climb in a society where many of us still have the odds stacked against us, economically. Speaking at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in Houston this past June, One United Bank President and Chief Operating Officer, Teri Williams says the decision to “Bank Black” and “Buy Black” is “not just moving your money, it’s moving your mind. Banking Black is really the threshold. We only spend 2% with ourselves.” We need to “reimagine, reinvent and reinvest” in Black-owned businesses and Black communities.

Here’s how you can start