Making money may be the American Dream, but Black Magic author Chad Sanders is revealing every effect it can have on a person, especially one of color, in his new Audible project Direct Deposit: What Happens When Black People Get Rich. “This a podcast album,” declares Sanders, a techie-turned-screenwriter who has written for HBO Max's Rap Sh!t. “It is a full body of work that you're going to consume over four hours that you can talk about, disagree with and challenge.”
In the podcast, Sanders blends personal essays with a roster of celebrities and experts who share their views and advice on dealing with wealth: the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Sanders also delves into the therapy, giving us a thoroughly insightful view of how his own life changed once he had some coins jingling in his pockets.
EBONY sat down with the Direct Deposit star to learn the secrets and pitfalls of getting rich, and how one A-lister shared just how much money it takes to override being perceived by the color of your skin.
EBONY: Let’s jump right in. What’s the secret to being Black and getting rich?
Chad Sanders: I will say the experience of trying to get rich while Black is unique to us. With this show, I wanted to explore the ways it affects our mental health and makes us feel isolated, and the sometimes jarring effect of moving between worlds where you're talking to your board members, your employer, your friends or your family. You’ve got to be 10 different people, and then you sit home at night and start to forget which one of those people you actually are. That's really what the essence of the project is, trying to get myself through that experience, talking with people who have been there and gotten through it and sharing it in a way that’s artistically tasteful.
This project takes us through your arc from where you started: Black, broke and gifted, to where you are now. It’s very meta.
It is extremely personal, and it's absolutely going to move and trigger some people in my life because they don’t know everything that I've been going through these last years. I think the element of being rich attracts not only money but sharks and people with their hands out. So this is a combination between an album and an audiobook. This is composed; it's written and mastered. There are sound effects and different voices coming in and out. I was pushed into that place and I'm so glad.
What's the best advice you've received about money?
What I love about this podcast series is that people didn't just sit on their thrones and rain down advice or speak to me in parables. From Issa Rae, it’s the value of working with what and who is in your life right now. Resourcefulness is, “What do I have right now that I can pour into this thing?” If you can create with what you have, you can literally print money in this industry. If you can make something that has value without costing someone a gazillion dollars, you can claw your way up.
And Gabrielle Union gave you some intense insight, right?
The question that I faced throughout the making of this whole project is if there is some dollar amount that I get to that helps get me to the labyrinth of I've made enough, I'm safe. I'm not going to go to jail. I'm not going to get shot by the police. I'm not going to have to keep both hands on the steering wheel every time I get pulled over and be nervous. Was there some amount of money that's going to help me transcend my racial experience? And Gabrielle Union, someone who's really been to the other side, said no, that it's not going to happen. You have to decide for yourself right now how much is enough money for you to just be honest and tell your truth.
How has your relationship with money changed through this series?
I lost hours and hours and hours of sleep during the process of making this project because these things were turning over and over again in my head: how much does money mean to me? How much have I let money define me without really acknowledging it? How much of my friendships and relationships in my life are based on the idea of who can help somebody else? And I had to face the fact that I had let money creep into my life and into a place of so much value where it does not belong. I had let it surpass things that were supposed to be more important than money, to the point where it was affecting my friendships and relationships. And I realized that the pursuit of money creates bonds where they shouldn't actually exist and where people aren't actually compatible. I can't I can't even name all the ways that I've had to rethink how I think about money over the last year because of this project.
You also explore your relationship with therapy in the podcast.
I'll be really thoughtful because this is a really sensitive subject matter and I'm conflicted. On one side, I think therapy has helped me see the things that are going on in my life and face them. It's helped me really just peel away what's going on with me. I think many people of any racial identity can benefit from that. I talked with Amanda Jurist, a therapist, about how as Black people we are still processing slavery on some level. That brings an additional set of conflicts, traumas, pain, points, fears and insecurities into our lives. And, quite frankly, I don't know that the therapy industry as it is built right now to support that load of baggage that we have. I think we need to examine many different ways that we can heal and remedy everything that's going on with us as a result of that history. And this is really important to me, the mental health therapy industry makes $200-plus billion dollars a year in the United States. White people sit atop the industry and we are once again shoveling our money into white people's hands to remedy something that in large part they're responsible for. That part makes me angry and worried, and it makes me want to pay very close attention to how that industry develops.
This is definitely a passion project for you.
It is our aim and my belief that Direct Deposit should be considered for the Best Spoken Word Album of the Year by the Grammy Awards. I want that, so I gotta keep putting that out into the universe because I think we got a shot.
And it’s a free download!
Yes, it’s free on Audible. You don't need a subscription, which is a big deal. Frankly, it’s because Audible wants us on the platform. They want Black folks there. They are trying to reach a diverse audience so there are no barriers to entry. Go google “Direct Deposit, Chad Sanders.” It'll come right up.