Twenty-eight-year-old Kyren Gibson and his 8-year-old son, Kyng, have recently taken the internet by storm, thanks to a video in which Kyng flawlessly recites the definitions of financial terms that many often struggle to grasp even into adulthood.
Forty-four million African-Americans across the United States account for 13% of the population and have a significant impact on the economy, with $1.2 trillion in purchases annually, yet financial literacy remains an area in which the Black community still struggles. Many, like Gibson, are educating themselves and passing along the information to their loved ones as best they can.
Gibson is doing his part to help break the financial illiteracy chain in his family by teaching Kyng the foundations of smart money-making decisions early. He’s doing such a good job, in fact, that the father-son duo received national attention for a viral video in which Kyng rattles off financial terms and definitions as naturally as 8-year-olds rattle off their favorite video games or movies.
“What’s assets?” his dad asks him in the video. “Assets are things that bring money to your bank account,” answers Kyng.
“What’s entrepreneurship?” quizzed his dad, to which Kyng didn’t skip a beat before answering, “Entrepreneurship is the process of taking on a business or businesses.”
“What’s equity?” “Equity is the difference between what your business is worth, minus what you owe on it,” Kyng quickly responds.
The full-time personal trainer, who currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, and left his life “in the streets” behind to pave a better way for his son, recently spoke with Atlanta Black Star about his passion for paving a better way for his son and the importance of financial education in the Black community.
Kyng currently lives with his mother, Gibson’s girlfriend, full-time in Raleigh, North Carolina, but spends his school breaks with his dad, who also sees him as often as he can in between breaks.
While in school, Gibson had hopes of becoming a pro football player and was too “cocky” to be focused on his studies in spite of being naturally intelligent and scoring a 1760 on his SATs. (From 2005-2016, the SAT scoring scale was changed from a 1600 scale to a 2400 scale, before reverting back to the 1600 scale in 2016.)
He also grew up seeing the effects of mismanaged finances on Black families personally, through spending time with his grandfather at the funeral home he owned. “If you die and your kids have to come up with a way to pay for your funeral, you didn’t live your life right,” Gibson told Atlanta Black Star. “You didn’t handle your money right.”
Gibson recalls hanging out with his best friend a few months ago and overhearing him speaking to some co-workers about their finance-related businesses. After finding himself not being able to keep up as he usually could, he was inspired to want to learn more about the business of money.
“I never like feeling dumb,” he said. “Usually, anything else I can talk to you about and level with you. You’ll be like, ‘Damn how you know that?’ but on this level I was illiterate, so I went and did my studies, did my research.”
The realization that he’d missed out on learning an important path to success was what sparked him to want to teach his son at an early age. “At the same time, I was like, I don’t want my son to be like this neither. So I made him learn … after I learned … so he could understand the talk.”
As Gibson began educating himself more, he came to see that the disparity in the financial literacy gap was one unique to the Black community, driving him to be even more committed to closing that gap, starting with educating his son. “How I raise him and teach him is off of my mistakes. I’m hellbent on making sure that he is a better man than me. That’s what a parent’s supposed to do. It’s not ‘here are some video games, go sit in a room.’ That’s lazy. I’m not going to be that parent,” Gibson stated.
“If everybody wants to post twerk video and fighting videos, and all this craziness on the internet, hell, let me step up and do something else different,” he continued. “I’m gonna post me teaching my son and hope this inspires and makes someone else say ‘Let me show my kid this!'”
When it comes to how he teaches Kyng these complicated definitions and ideas, Gibson says it’s all about repetition. “I just go off of repetition. The thing to know, honestly, is it’s about knowing your child. With any kid, if they like it, if you make it fun they’ll want to do it. … I dumb it down in kid form, the examples and the definitions, then I tell him in real-world form, adult form, and we just do it over and over again until he knows it backwards and forwards.”
Gibson feels that the wide knowledge gap between the Black community and others exists because the United States at its core has always intended to keep African-Americans ignorant, starting with the school systems. “The school system, it’s a lot of stuff [the government] don’t teach us a lot of this stuff on purpose. They keep the unity and everything else split down the middle.”
As he’s gained more exposure throughout his and his son’s educational journey, Gibson has been exposed to the darker side of the internet. “They don’t want us to know this sh-t. It’s tapped into they world. I’ve had some trolls [say things like], ‘You should cut your dreads’ and ‘Wow do y’all want a cookie for knowing this?’ They don’t like that sh-t. They do not like that we tapping into they world and it’s a nigga with dreads doing it.”
Gibson is all about breaking the cycle of financial illiteracy among the Black community and feels teaching Blacks and Black children the ins and outs of the financial world is an important way for African-Americans to be able to level the playing field in life. “We’ve got to break it, or it’s just going to keep trickling down. Owning is not hard. That’s why they don’t teach us this in schools. They don’t want us to catch on to that.”
One message that Gibson wanted to make clear to parents about teaching their kids about the more important yet boring parts of life is that the way the lesson is delivered has a massive impact on how well it’s received.
“You can’t talk at them,” he stressed. “Don’t talk at them, talk to them. Figure out what they like and start early. That’s what I’m screaming, and I hope you put this in there. Start with your kids early. Do not wait until these kids are 12 and 13, not giving a damn what you say and going through puberty, and already infiltrated by society. You’ve gotta do this early so it’s a second language to them.”
In a 2019, a report released by the The TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) African-Americans correctly answered only 38% of the Personal Finance (P-Fin) Index questions correctly, compared with 55% of whites, indicating a clear gap in education.
The Personal Finance (P-Fin) Index gauges personal finance knowledge and understanding in eight functional areas: earning, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing, insuring, understanding risk, and gathering information.
“African Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population and constitute a critical segment of our economy. Yet financial literacy gaps exist across this demographic group regardless of gender, age, income level, or degree of education,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of the TIAA Institute, in a press release. “It is imperative that we continue to shed light on this challenge in order to better map a course for financial success.”
For other parents that want to get started teaching their kids these life skills but may not be sure about where to begin, Gibson had this advice to offer: “Don’t be scared. Do not be scared to research. Research is your best friend. … Whatever you don’t understand is all on the internet.”
Gibson plans to create a variety of tools for kids and parents to learn the basics of financial literacy, including flash cards, coloring books, workbooks for both adults and children, and a website with more resources as well. More information will be available on his Instagram as it becomes available.
So what’s next in regard to Kyng’s financial literacy lessons? “When the quarantine is over we’re going to the bank for the first time so that he can open his account. The bank is going to be his best friend early,” Gibson assured.
At the end of the day, Gibson is doing what he can to contribute to raising the next generation of great Black men. “I just want him to be a great man in the end. I know if he’s great, I left my mark.”