How DeFi Helps Marginalized Communities with Isaiah Jackson, Author of Bitcoin & Black AmericaMay 03, 2021
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Host: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the Unstoppable Podcast. I'm your host, Diana Chen and I'm joined today by our guest, Isaiah Jackson. He's the author of Bitcoin and Black America. I've been following him ever since I got into the crypto space earlier this year, bought his book and I've just been sitting on it for a few months.
Finally got a chance to reading it and it was—I mean it's spectacular. So I knew I had to get him on the podcast and I'm really excited to have him here and have the opportunity to talk to him about his entire crypto journey which started in the early, early days and what he's up to today and then with his second book coming out soon. So welcome Isaiah, I'm so happy to have you here.
Isaiah Jackson: Oh ma'am, I'm so glad to be here. Thank you for having me.
Host: Yeah, for sure. So take me back—I know you're—you are a so super early adopter. I read this in your book. You got into it back in, I think it was 2010 or like 2013, like super—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] Yeah.
Host: —early days. So take me all the way back to when you first got into crypto. How did you get exposed to crypto all the way back then and then what kind of picked your interest and encourage you to learn more about it and just started getting really deep into the space?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh yes. So I learnt from a roommate and we used to kick around ideas about to make more money. I was a teacher at the time, 2013 and I remember the recession of 2008. So I knew that financially, something is wrong here. And honestly, when I first heard the idea, the only reason it was really presented was because I have tech background in computer science and that's what I was in.
And bitcoin back in those days was way more techy. It was no where near as broad as it is now. So the way my roommate presented it, he told me, I saw a video from Mark Schizer [phonetic]. I read an article from the Wigo Boss [phonetic] twins. Did some research and bought my first bitcoin as back in 2013.
So for me, the start of it was the curiosity and fact that it's like this whole new thing that's supposed to change the money market. It change the economy which we see now. That's exactly what it's doing. So I believe—you know, the great thing is bitcoin is been the same since I got in till now. Still working the same, crypto has expanded to other arenas, but even back then, we understood that something need to happen and when bitcoin came along, the light bulb click.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And back then there a lot of fewer resources than we have now in terms of how to learn about it. You really got to go out there and do some digging or—but like how did you learn about it back in 2013 besides like reading the bitcoin white paper which by the way, I don't—my personal take is, I don't think that's—like not to say it's not well written, I don't think it's an easily digestible piece of writing for the masses.
So I'm wondering, like did you have to read it a few times, do—did you find that to be a good resource or what were your resources back then and then what do you see as some of the best resources that are out there today for people to start learning whether it's articles, bloggers, twitter, personalities or any other resources?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh, yeah. So when you first read the Bitcoin white paper, there's no way you get it the first time because of the magnitude of what it's trying to achieve. Is like oh, we are just this little project trying to try something, and even from a technical side, a lot of people don't get it because you have to know encryption, you have to know the kind of basis of computer science. Adam Back [phonetic] introduced harsh cash, those type of things.
Most people don't know all of them. They may know one, they may know—so the Bitcoin white paper was—usually, it was red. I've read it hundreds of times, but back then, you read it, but it was like, all right, I need to go to something like bitcoin talk. Bitcoin Talk was a big place to go back then, read it, it was huge, a lot of underground stuff. It was hard to find information. I mean you really have to—you really had to love it back then. That's why a lot of us stock around till now and really had to search it.
So that was the start and then some of the resources now—now we have a - - of resources. One of the resources that have been consistent long term, LOPP, lopp.net/bitcoinresources, works for Casserole [phonetic], big bitcoiner. I will say cryptowise; you definitely always want to check out coin market cap which most people know about. But newswise, my daily show was Gentlemen of Crypto.
We talk about news every day on YouTube, that's one resource. I mean it's a lot—there's a lot of resources available, but you want to have good information, right. So those are the ones I would choose to start and then from there also, make sure that you read books like Inventing Bitcoin, Bitcoin Standard, maybe Mastering Bitcoin if you're more technical. So those are some resources to start with.
Host: Awesome. And then if you are to explain crypto to somebody who's totally new to it, what will be your like 30 second pitch of what crypto is and how would you explain it in a way that gets them hyped about it and then encourages them to go out and learn more?
Isaiah Jackson: So I always say, Bitcoin or crypto is money. And money allows freedom and the only way we can get there in the future is through this new digital currency and you can choose which ever one you want. I usually stick with Bitcoin and then I try and go from there and let them see the numbers or tell them the numbers and say hey, Bitcoin is the best performing asset of the last decade.
And long term, mostly everything that is liquid will sort of be on a Bitcoin standard. So you can have the choice—you really don't have a choice. You can either get on it now or you can be a consumer later, and most people are interested then, but they are like, what? I don't have a choice. So they kind of like, what do you mean and I think once they see the momentum that's picked up in the market and where we're headed, they get it from there.
So try to keep it short and sweet and try not to confuse people because most people, they're not technical, but we do have the stuff in place to make it easy.
Host: Yeah, for sure. So other than just being confused about all the technical things going on, what do you see as some of the other major road blocks that's preventing mass adoption of crypto?
Isaiah Jackson: Well, we are using media, but I would say mainstream media maybe. Because a lot of people I've talked to, they always bring up the fact that, hey I saw this on CNBC, hey I saw this on whatever, whatever. And usually, it's conflicting things. So they don't know which way to go. And a lot of times, we always say in our community, do your own research and the reason we say that is because if you listen to the media, you be up, you're down, your heart rate will be up, you'll lose here thinking about the price and what's happening.
So I think media maybe one even though that's their job, you have to get over that and do your own research. I think another thing holding it back is regulation. I think regulation is so far behind in the US, I would say, but it's so far ahead in other countries. It's just like why can't we speed up? And sort of this thing like hey, I like the innovation, but let's slow it down, let's stop in phases while we figure it out and it's like that's never going to happen.
So I think those two things have slowed it a bit, but it hasn't stopped it, right. We're at the point now where Bitcoin almost 60,000 and nobody is really super excited. They are like yeah, this is inevitable now and the crypto market seems inevitable. So I think those are slowing it down, but not stopping it.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And then can you just give people an idea of like what you mean when you say regulation in the US is so far behind? Like what are some countries that are farther ahead in regulation and then what are like some of the areas of regulation where the US government really needs to step it up ASAP and get moving on and so that we can actually make more practical uses of crypto?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh yeah. So I don't want to make a broad statement of the entire US per se because we do have Wyoming which is—have a Blockchain sandbox. They've had very favorable rules and laws for the blockchain space. Florida, Mayor Suarez is basically creating a bitcoin city in Maimi which I just came back from and plan to go back.
So I don't want to say the entire US, but I think it—that's the point, is like why is it in different places. You should be able to coordinate a way for us to be ahead because if this is the future, you have countries like China where basically they, in my opinion, are moving towards a bitcoin standard. You have countries like Korea where they've had better regulations in place to build out exchanges and people are using it. You even have countries like Nigeria, where they have, I think like the third most volume of users. They haven't necessarily had good regulation, but the people want to use it so much, they've had the change. And that's what I think the US has to understand is why even get to that point.
We don't even want to get to the point where people are like, hey, we only want to use crypto. Why are you not allowing this? You should just go ahead and let it happen, let innovation happen and then regulate based off of the mistakes people have made. Inform people, but I don't really believe in keeping a dot out of a open money system, which is what we're building.
Host: Yeah, for sure. It's a bit of chicken or the egg problem, right, because it's—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] Yeah, exactly.
Host: —because it's like the government is maybe waiting for pressure from the people to set the regulation, but then people aren't going to use crypto until there's regulation because they don't feel it's safe to—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] I know.
Host: —to do so.
Isaiah Jackson: Yeah. And it's weird, but at the same time with the value increase, we know what happens. People coming to the market, network effect and I don't think they'll have a choice at some point. They'll have to do something. So it's like why not start now? So we're starting to see—
Host: [Interposing] Exactly.
Isaiah Jackson: —regulations, but it's kind of—I don't know, kind of iffy. I've seen some stuff and I'm like, hey man, calm down on trying to make certain things illegal without knowing the process. I don't know how they're going to do airdrops with taxes or I don't understand NFT's with securities. You know what I mean, like it's kind of hard to figure that out and less than a few years. So we need some time, but we'll be all right.
Host: Yeah, exactly. All right. Well, let's move on and talk about your book, Bitcoin and Black America. The first—Part 1 is out already. It's been out since 2019 and then Part 2 is coming out. Preorder is already available, so you can go ahead and pre-order the book. And then do you—have you set a date when it's going to—it's set to ship or do people know that yet?
Isaiah Jackson: Yes. So currently, we're looking at April 17th for the ship date. I had to work out some things legally, but everything's all good now. We got the - -. So shipping, April 17th. If there is a delay, there will be contacts, but yes, preorders are already now.
I can't wait for people to read the book. There is some pushback. The first one was a little popular, so there has been a lot of pushback. Been fighting some silent battles, but we're through it now. And the second edition, I can't wait for it. A lot of new—all new information, seven new chapters, a broader black Blockchain directory.
And I think there's a lot of information in there people overlook that they can, they can find very useful, even if they're not a part of the black - -.
Host: Got it. So is Part 2 going to be a little more advanced than Part 1? Is it building on those topics or is it just like an update based on what's been happening? The space is moving so fast, you know, so it's like you got to constantly update that information.
Isaiah Jackson: Oh, yeah. So since the book was written a few months prior, it sort of is showing what's happening now. I, I can't wait for people to read so they can look and say, Hey, did you just write this yesterday? Because I was writing about this stuff six months ago and now it's happening.
So I think that was sort of a blessing in disguise, but the book itself is a little bit of an update, but more of just a step up in the information. Like for example, I feel like most people have heard of Bitcoin, maybe even own a little bit, maybe own a little crypto, but things like having your own note, that's important. I think that's, that's how you actually build the decentralization, having a private wallet, being able to generate your own keys. What do you do in Bitcoin in marriage situations as far as longterm generational wealth?
People don't know these laws exist. They don't know if there's a separation and this happens, or if you stay together, how to protect it. We have—I have about 40 different countries that I've discussed as well because remittance payments are becoming big. So a much bigger thought process around this. And of course, with people reading the first book, I think in the second book, it's like a 200 level course in college.
If you read the hundred level, 200 level is a step up and I hope more people can learn just like the different - -.
Host: Awesome, yeah. It sounds like you've got a lot. One of the things I love about your first book is that there's so many practical cases. Like you really talk about Bitcoin and crypto currency in a, in a very practical way, which I think is really missing out there and that's one thing that I think is preventing people from getting into the space as they can't wrap their minds around the use cases for it, and you really break it down in your first book.
So I'm looking forward to reading the second one too, and see more of the use cases. So tell me, take me back to when you were—you just got the idea to write your first book. What inspired you to write a book?
Isaiah Jackson: Well, most of it came from—I always wanted to write a book. Just one though. I always said, I think everybody should. I had a Jewish friend who gave—he had a saying, you should plant a tree, write a book and have a child, because they last, they outlast you.
So I always wanted to write a book, and one of the biggest things with me was, I didn't know what that book is going to be about, but once I learned enough about Bitcoin, I wanted to make sure I related it to the black community because there was so much synergy. The group economics of Bitcoin is so natural. Like me and you, we don't have to know each other, but we both are making Bitcoin better just by existing and supporting it.
So that's—that to me was very powerful. I wanted to put that together and I wanted to make sure the black community didn't miss out on the opportunity, like the tech boom. I feel like we missed, you know, the brunt of the tech boom, a lot of the FinTech boom as well. And I think now we have opportunity to grow wealth in a new economy and we can be the owners this time around. You don't have to always be consumers, you don't always have to work and do all these things to make wealth. I think Bitcoin is a much better place and I wanted to make sure that the book represented that.
Host: Got it. And so in your book, you talk mostly about Bitcoin. Obviously, that's what, what it's titled. When you were thinking through this, like, is there—are you just particularly bullish on Bitcoin or do you sort of see any kind of crypto currency serving the same purpose that you talk about in your book?
Isaiah Jackson: Yeah. So some—I often say that a lot of people say you shouldn't put your eggs in one basket, but I always say Bitcoin is the basket, and I feel like everything else is the eggs. And what that means is I feel like most things will be denominated in Bitcoin as far as value. However, DeFi, NFT market, different crypto currencies with new—use cases as a business will absolutely flourish because a lot of people look at it as, Hey, this is maybe centralized by a foundation or a person.
But what I always say is like businesses are, if a business is—if a business flourishes and crypto is what they use as, as their method, they're going to flourish as well. So definitely interested in other parts of the market, but I just think that the foundation of it will end up being Bitcoin and that other things that will be valuable will be valued in satoshi at a certain point.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And you talk about this a little bit in your book, but how would you respond to people who are resistant to buying Bitcoin because they're kind of scared away by how volatile it's been over the years?
Isaiah Jackson: Man, yes, volatility. I love—you know, I love when people will bring it up simply because it's one of those subjects that's been argued all eight years I've been in Bitcoin. I mean, literally never had a conversation without it. And what I want people to understand is that two main statistics about volatility.
One, if you've bought Bitcoin and hold it for at least three and a half years, you're in profit, every single person. Second, 99.7% of people who have bought Bitcoin ever are in profit right now. So when people say volatile, I always say, well, it depends on your timeframe. If you think to yourself, I'm going to buy this and flipping in three months. You might have a tough time. But if you think about holding or buying and holding longterm, maybe dollar cost averaging, the numbers are there.
This is a layup investment. This is a future currency that is scarce. So the value—you can see the value proposition is there. So I just think when people say volatile was like, not if you're doing it for the right reason and holding it. So I don't, I don't ever really have that argument with people.
I tell them those two stats and then from there they're like, well, hmm. I should just buy it and save it, right? He's like, yeah. It's not something that you throw around because you have to have that first property store value as money before you can get to medium of exchange and the unit of account.
Host: Yeah, for sure. So having read your first book, my opinion is I think everybody who's interested in crypto should read it, but when you first wrote the book, who was your intended audience. Was it just the black community or was your intended audience, like you want everybody, you think everybody can benefit from reading it?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh yeah. I absolutely thought everybody could benefit, but I had to put it out to the black community as a signal. Like, hey, we need to be a part of this too. Also, my family is the black community and that's the thing is if I'm writing to my family, which was my initial crowd and then as the book got bigger, I'm like, yeah, I want to write to everybody.
I started realizing the parallels between black community and others. So at that point, it was a no brainer. You might as well come up with results in your, or planning your community so that other communities can, can use that as a template. So it worked out that way and again, when people say, I'm not black, can I read it? I'm like, yeah, absolutely. It's, it's just a blueprint in my community and you can use it for yours.
Host: Yeah, for sure. All right. So one more quick question before we dive into the meat and potatoes of what your book is actually about. One interesting thing about your books is I, I believe there's only a limited supply of them, right? So once they're sold out, they're sold out. There's never going to be—okay. So I think, is it 10,000 books or—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] 10,000.
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] 10,000 books, mmhm.
Host: Yep. So when—why did you decide to set a limit on this, and is this—I—obviously like, right, NFTs are booming in the concept of rarity. Was that something that was on your mind when you set a limit to how many books would be printed?
Isaiah Jackson: Not at all. Actually making it an NFT wasn't the case, but I have a friend, Hosea, and we used to talk about businesses of in college and he introduced his video to me, the concept of 10,000 which basically is if you have 10,000 loyal people and you have a hundred dollars' worth of products, you can make a million dollars a year. And that's a very simple equation, even though, you know, you have to do the work to get there. I always kept that in my mind. This was probably back in '07 when he introduced this to me.
So when the book came out, I was like, what is something that nobody's done with books? And I haven't really seen scarcity in books. People—they want to sell as much as possible, but I, I thought to myself, this message is so important. The people that really want it which is why the price point is a hundred dollars, they're going to get. And these are the people that I can email constantly for years. I feel like for decades, we can constantly have products, have stuff for them because this is a very important time and I wanted the sense of urgency to be there.
You know, with the first book, anybody can buy it because I think it's very novice. But with the second one, it goes deep. It's like, who's serious? And I feel like if we get 10,000 strong people, you're good. I love that it scares. I didn't think that many people would care that much, but the fact that it is scares, a lot of people just like Bitcoin are saying, Hey, I need to get it now and learn now instead of waiting till later.
Host: A hundred percent. Yeah. And not that 10,000 is a small number, but quality over quantity and you've, you've kind of got both there.
Isaiah Jackson: Mmhm. Oh yeah and—yeah, they may have a high hopes to ever sell 10,000, but in my opinion, that's all I really need long term.
Host: Yeah. I mean, I can, I can totally see you getting there. So I don't think that's a stretch at all. All right. So diving into more of the substance of the book. So one thing I loved about the book is that it not only was it very educational from a crypto perspective, but it was also very educational about some of the problems in America, at least with finance and how some of the systemic racism that we face in our country have really had a negative impact in, in certain communities, black communities in particular and other underprivileged communities.
So for people listening, who maybe aren't aware of this, didn't grow up in a community, didn't experience this for themselves, give people a little background on what are some of the ways in which our traditional finance system in America does not serve the black and brown committee.
Isaiah Jackson: Yes. So we have a few different moments in our history that were key to sort of breaking down black, the black economy. And the second book I write extensively about this, the black wall street era. If you don't know, the second, most prosperous time for black people was the late 1800 right after the emancipation proclamation.
Most people's think—historically, they think black people were always poor and downtrodden all of our existence. And honestly, that is been a lie. That's been told so many times, everybody believes it, but we had so many different communities, Black wall streets is what they were called. Libraries, doctors, lawyers, their own planes, their own, their own everything, schools and flourishing. And these communities were literally burned down by white people who were neighboring, who were jealous or that they would make up some excuse that some dude said something to a white woman and they would use that as an excuse to go burn down the whole entire community. And this was all over the US.
So that instilled fear for one, because a lot of black people started to get to a point where they say, hey, we open a business, we do too good. They're going to burn it down because that's how it was then. That is still a little bit of a fear. And it also got rid of an economy where they had to start from scratch.
So you have to think generationally, it's usually compounded. Compound interest—I forget the guy that says it. Is like the eighth wonder of the world, because over time, you build that wealth, that's how you really make money.
If you keep having to start over and start over every generation, that's—that is one blow that happened, you know, very hard and that affected us. Next thing that happened, FHA loans. People that came back from the war, black people, white people, Asian, Mexican, we all fought beside each other in, in the war and World War II came back and 98% of FHA federal housing authority loans went to the white community.
Now, that is one of the standards of building wealth is real estate. So if you start off in 1940s with all this real estate going to white community and 2% go to the black community and other, you're not really—you can't really build wealth from there. So you're starting over again. And of course from that point, red lining, they gave white people to the communities then. The bank said, hey, we're going to draw lines around these communities where you can and can't live. So you have black communities that can only live in certain spots and then boom, they build highway straight through it. So the property by you can never actually increase.
That was a concerted effort by the government because they built it through the poorest—they kept saying, it's the poorest neighborhoods, but you made those neighborhoods poor and those people just happen to be 99% black and they built the highway straight through it. That's why if you go down 85, 95, any major highway, when you get off the exits and usually more poor black neighborhoods. That was deliberate.
And these things happen over the last a hundred or so years, all the way to the point where now we're looking at inflation where we might be looking at 15 to 20% today, which affects everybody. But if we've had all these things in our past, they often say if the US has a cold, black community has a flu. It's going to be even worse for us.
So I think Bitcoin is that solution. And these are just examples of things that have happened along the way, but much more in the books - - books.
Host: Yeah. And so as you sort of like move through that journey and discovery that DeFi is the solution to all of this, I think it's really interesting, especially given everything that's happened over the last year.
One interesting quote from your book is you said, "I don't believe that putting your life on the line for a week, for a week protests that achieves nothing will work for the black community." And then later on you say, "I propose that we build our foundation of social change and protests by steadily moving our funds out of the banking system."
So I—this is really interesting because with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement over the last year, and with all the protests that have happened, I think a lot of—a lot of allies—I mean, I can only speak to that, have seen all these—the protests and this movement as like the change or the thing that needs to happen for a change to happen.
And you're sort of making this other argument that like, hey, maybe let's not waste our time with these protests and maybe spend this time educating the black community on DeFi and things like that, that will actually like give them a practical change and benefit.
So talk a little bit more about that. Like what—how did you, like what's the thought process before—behind that, and then how did you develop this train of thought that like maybe what we need isn't the protest and all of that stuff, but we just need like practical change education, like more of the practical thing.
Isaiah Jackson: Oh, yeah. So I look historically at what we have already done as a community to try and change how things are. We've already protested for hundreds of years. I mean, people have walked the streets, people got killed by dogs. People got hit with a, you know, with the firefighter hose. I mean, people have walked with—they've done this before. Why are we—anybody that repeats the same process and expects a different result, that is literally the definition of insanity.
So looking historically at how the black community has been treated, the only way to get leverage because I don't really care if you like me or not. That's, that's not really my concern. I'm talking about leverage like a business. If we're going to approach the US government or other groups of people and say, hey, we want to do business with you and we can flourish by ourselves, then you have to have leverage.
The only way to really have real leverage in this economy is to be able to have an asset such as Bitcoin which is unconfiscatable. You can't take it from us. And if we are moving it out of your system, you do not have the savings, you do not have the funds to loan out and do the things that you do. And I think that this is not only in our community, but others and I think any great that you have with the broader powers, you can use that, but with us, it should be, hey, we don't owe you any loyalty. You literally bankrupt our community and now you want us to do business with you.
So to have that leverage, you have to have something economic. If you want to match, that's fine. If you want to hold signs, that's fine. If you want to tweet it out, that's fine. But in my opinion, it has not worked to the extent of where we're actually changing anything. And if black lives matter has all of that money that they said, they should just put in Bitcoin right now, and just put a QR code on the website and let's get it going because if it's not economic, I'm not really interested because everything else to me is—it's feelings and how you feel and how, you know, people socially, how people act with each other. I don't really care about that too much until the economic side is, is fixed.
Host: Got it. Yeah. And then—so for people listening then who aren't sort of like—aren't familiar with DeFi or aren't bridging the gap between—okay, I hear you. I hear you on all the problems that we face and I see that, but how is DeFi the solution to my problem?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh, yeah. So DeFi cuts out the human aspect of finance, which we all know is flawed. There's greed, there's racism, there's whatever, et cetera. Anything that involves humans is going to have that. Now, when you have code as law, you can in a decentralized fashion, having financial system that does not need the input of whatever KYC or know your customer, things that they have.
So DeFi is basically a promise that you can get a loan if you have the collateral. That's it. It doesn't matter what color, age, country you live in, none of that. DeFi gives you the ability to participate in a financial system without the human aspect or barriers.
So that is to me all important in the future, because once you get rid of that, you can get to a point of freedom and we can get out of this rut where humans are making decisions based on how they feel or how they don't like this group or how—who cares about that. Finance—it shouldn't even involve that, keep that for the social side.
But again, I need people to understand that economically, if you're free, DeFi and it looks much better than a centralized finance system that we have now.
Host: Got it. Yeah. That makes perfect sense. And obviously DeFi is still in its early days right now. So what are some things that, from your perspective, still need to develop in DeFi in order to—you know, before we get to where we want to be ultimately?
Isaiah Jackson: Well, as far as the code goes, we've got to stop with the hacks. We've had about 17 DeFi protocols that has gotten hacked in the last two years. So that doesn't cause reassurance, but you can fix that. That's the good thing about technology. You can scale up and you can change and have actual code does audits and that works.
I think we need more audits. Some of this code is just sort of rug pools that get people in and they promised them 80% yield or whatever it is and then they wrote pool in which that's the immaturity at the beginning, but the same thing was happening with Bitcoin. It happened with every crypto currency early on.
So once they solved that, and I think also too once they have infrastructure in place to provide services across the board, like lending is, is something huge right now and after like they're building those reels where DeFi's becoming more and more relevant.
So you have Aave and you have maker and you have these abilities to get loans just off collateral, which is how it should be. But you also do have those issues as well, where you don't have strong derivatives. You don't really have a strong derivatives crypto market, or any other—some of the other things in the financial market.
So once that's built out, I think DeFi will succeed longterm, and more people need DeFi than they need the current financial system. I can promise you that. So the numbers are just getting started. Everybody needs a way to join and the centralized way just hasn't worked.
Host: Yeah, another problem we talk about in your book is the difficulties that the black community has had with getting funding for their projects, and this is, obviously, a very important thing as we want Blockchain and crypto to grow. There's more and more projects coming out there.
So the last chapter of your first book is actually called Blockchain and Blockchain is a peertopeer loan and equity crowdfunding platform that matches black business owners with investors from all around the world. So tell us a little bit more about Blockchain.
Isaiah Jackson: Absolutely. So Blockchain, right now, looking at the beta launch for June and looking at a full launch at the end of the year. So I wanted to create a platform that combined the DeFi aspects I said with lending, with the ability to use Bitcoin. Because a lot of people don't realize, DeFi is not only a theory. If you look at companies like Sovryn, if you look at Rootstock, RSK, they have the ability to do it on Bitcoin, which I think sort of hasn't occurred. Because lightning, when it comes around the speed and ability to do it, I think, will solve a lot of the problems that crypto has tried to solve.
So we're trying to put that platform together now by June. The peertopeer aspect will be micro lending. If you have Bitcoin, you have the collateral, you get a loan. You own your own keys and that sort of thing, just because I think that's how you get a circular economy where you don't really have to go outside. You can get loans, and then you can also spend it at a certain point if you're a business, or just hold on to it. So definitely building on that for this year.
Host: That's awesome. I'm super excited to see that launch and see how that goes. That's really cool.
Isaiah Jackson: Absolutely. Oh yeah, absolutely. Thank you.
Host: Yeah. I'm just wondering too, like what has been the response from the black community after reading your first book?
Isaiah Jackson: Overall, positive. I've probably only had a few people who have had disagreements, but that makes it better, right? That gets you stronger, so. And most of the disagreements were, you know, they weren't big things they just didn't understand, and then once they did, they actually ended up agreeing.
So it's been overall, successful as far as the Bitcoin and Black America book tour, and most of the people that have told me about the book, a lot of things in there, to me, I thought were very elementary, but they—it was like one little thing that turned the light bulb on for them. Like, oh, this is how that works. You know what I mean? So that was, I think, the best response I've gotten is that for most people, they heard about it, they may have seen, or somebody telling them about it, but it was like the one thing that saw or answered their question that got them on their way, which I'm glad to say, I was able to help with that.
Host: That's awesome. That's really good to hear. And speaking of the book tour, by the way, are you—do you have plans to resume the book tour once COVID—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] Oh, yeah.
Host: —is over? Yeah.
Isaiah Jackson: Hopefully, we can get everything resolved by June. The first date looking at Bitcoin 2021 and then going on from there all the way to end of the year. Simply because I think, personally, we can make videos all day, we—I can write books. That's fine. But if you can see people in person, nothing is better than a Bitcoin Meetup, or a place where everybody there can ask questions, you can meet people facetoface. So that' sort of why I want to make sure this book tour, you know, is safe, of course, but that it happens over a long period of time. I want to go out the country, see people, and then you can actually touch and see what's going on in their communities.
Host: For sure. That would be awesome. I'll keep my eye out for that. And then I want to also dive into your personal journey a little bit because it's, you know, you were an early adopter and it hasn't been a totally smooth ride, as I'm sure everybody can say, everybody who got into Bitcoin in 2013 can say.
So you've been through a lot personally since 2013, you've experienced, you know, when you first got into it, it's like none of your friends or peers understood what you were doing and they were maybe skeptical of it. And then you experienced the bear market after you had already bought some Bitcoin, and then you got hacked and lost a bunch of money in crypto.
So you've been through a lot. Tell me what was it that kept you going through all of that and helped you to persist and still be in the place that you are today instead of just giving up on it when one of those things happened?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh well, I've always been a fighter, so it's going to take more than that to stop something that I actually believe in. Because again, most people think of it as a way to flip it or trade it or a quick investment. I actually believe what the message of Bitcoin was trying to convey is that yeah, we need an ultimate financial system. He who holds the gold, holds the power, right? So we have to figure out a way where there's not some central way of doing it.
So losing money, having different things happen, almost getting robbed. I didn't write about that in the book, but that's happened before. So all of these things, to me, were just like, that means I'm on the right path. If stuff is in the way, it's like, all right. I must be on the right path. Because I mean, honestly, I haven't heard of anybody that's been successful without struggles. So if you stop as soon as something happens, it's like, well, you're basically cutting off any chance of success you had and just seeing this thing through, which to this point, has worked out and I think long term, it will as well.
So it takes a lot to stop me. And I just don't think those things should stop anybody. Again, like I said, the hack. That was one of the things that, for most people, they're done, they're out for everybody. Actually, I didn't lose any personal Bitcoins. It was an exchange. Like in the book, I describe that allowed it to be sent away. So their security—my security's actually better than theirs. So I was actually confident about that. Like, hey, this happened, but I've proven to myself I actually kind of know what I'm doing. So yeah, it's tough, you've got to go through some stuff, you've got to pay tuition on certain stuff, but it happens and I'm glad I'm still here.
Host: Yeah, you shared a little bit about that in the book too, like some of the lessons that you've learned, but just for our listeners here, what are some of the important lessons that you learned from going through all of that? And maybe share some tips for people that are just getting into the space today so that they can set themselves up for success and not have to go through the things that you went through.
Isaiah Jackson: Yes. Oh, yes. So use a VPN whenever you're—that's just practical, any internet user. Use two factor authentication on any exchange that you use. Anytime you download a wallet, make sure that that wallet is from the actual website and not some third party that can get your keys, same thing with hardware wallets. Make sure it's from the website, not Amazon or some other place where they can steal your keys.
I would also say, from security standpoint, that's the most important thing, because who cares if you make all of this money with Bitcoin, or if you have all of this wealth if somebody can just take it, right? So you want to make sure you have that. And I would say it's more important to me than most people, but you should honestly make sure that everybody around you owns Bitcoin and knows about it, because that's security, as well. It's like, oh, if I don't have the resource, somebody else can. If you're a lone wolf walking out here, I understand, but for most people, having that group around you actually helps.
Host: Yeah, and I like what you said in the book about—I think a lot of people view Bitcoin and crypto as sort of sketchy because it's like you can still get hacked and then you got to do all these things that you said like make sure you have a VPN, turn on two factor authentication. All of these things which are good internet 2.0 practices as well, but a lot of people still don't—aren't in the habit of doing. And it's really just about as we learn more and more about the internet—as the internet evolves more and more, we learn more about how to be safe on the internet.
And these are just safety practices that I think right now, might seem a little stringent and extreme to people, but in the future, it's just going to be like second nature. Or maybe if you go talk to a 10yearold, they're like, well, this is obvious. Like duh, you have to do this. Like how do you not know this? And it's more just with people who have—were alive during a time when we didn't have the internet are still sort of learning about these safety measures.
But I guess all of this is just to say, it's not that crypto is sketchy or any less secure. It is more secure than the internet that we have today. It's just that we have to train ourselves to have these good safety and privacy practices in our daytoday usage.
Isaiah Jackson: Absolutely. With great power comes great responsibility. You got to make sure that you—
Host: [Interposing] Exactly.
Isaiah Jackson: You want to be selfsovereign; you got to be able to do it yourself, so a good time to learn.
Isaiah Jackson: You mentioned 10yearolds being able to do it. I just want to say, I am teaching a summer camp this summer. They will definitely be using two factor authentication and VPN, so.
Host: Nice. Yeah, I've had some people on the podcast who have kids and all of them have said, yeah, it's way easier to tell my 10yearold about crypto and NFTs and explain all that to them—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] Yep. They did it.
Host: —than it is to explain to my friends my age. So—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] Yeah.
Host: —it's the next generation. So for someone who is from the black community, who's listening to this podcast, or honestly, even just anybody who's new to crypto, what are the first things that they should do right now to get started with crypto?
Isaiah Jackson: All right. So first thing, get some skin in the game. Buy it. Even if you're on the fence, who cares? Buy one—you can buy $1 worth of Bitcoin on Cash App. You can buy $10 on the exchange of another crypto that may be cheaper. Just get skin in the game. That's the first thing. So buy it.
The second thing you want to do is make sure that you secure it. Like we said before, no point in getting it if you can't secure it. So getting a hardware wallet, being able to have a process to move it off exchangers, all the things I've discussed before. You want to secure it.
And then last thing I would say is, you want to find a way to earn Bitcoin. Because most people, they'll show you where to buy it, they'll say you should buy this amount. But if you can find ways to earn it, I think that's a way for people who are just starting to get Bitcoin and see how it grows without actually giving up any capital. Because if you get on a place like Lolli, LOLLI, you can get cash back awards for things you buy in Bitcoin. Same thing with Fold App. You get cash back awards every time you use their card in Bitcoin.
I'm the type of guy, I like Postmates and I buy too much Postmates, but every time I do, I get three and a half percent cash back in Bitcoin, which I haven't done anything different. And I think that's where you have to meet people, meet them where they are. You don't have to change your lifestyle completely to get into the Bitcoin space. Just start with those three things. Buy it, secure it, and then of course, earn it.
So use some of the tactics. In my second book, I actually have eight ways to earn it in the second book. There's an entire section on that. And then there's other ways online, as well. So you want to make sure you can get your hands on the most scarce asset in the world.
Host: That's awesome. Love it. And then, obviously, hold it, right? So that's another big question is once you've got the Bitcoin, do you treat it as a savings account basically, or do you try and go out there and use it? You know, if your local coffee shop offers Bitcoin as a payment, do you go and buy your coffee in Bitcoin, or like what's your take on that?
Isaiah Jackson: Yeah. So, you know, money has three stages: store value, medium of exchange and then unit of account. So we're at the store value era for Bitcoin, which we're just proving that Bitcoin again, 99.7% of people holding it earn profit, 100% of people that held it three years earn profit.
So we're proving it's a store value. When I think the medium of exchange will happen, where I'll actually spend it, is where we get the satoshi standard, where basically things are priced in satoshis. I think, personally, $1 will equal a satoshi one day, and we'll have that sort of metric where we'll have to change how we think about money and how much things cost, but purchasing power goes up with Bitcoin.
So that means more people will be able to buy more things who have Bitcoin and because everybody can get it, you know, currently, I think that's—that will be a time where I spend Bitcoin. Because again, once that happens, if businesses are accepting it, people are using it, then you have the unit of account era where Bitcoin is seen as money and it fulfills the promise that was in the whitepaper.
So I think it just takes time, but those things are in place to happen, but currently, buying it and holding it is the best strategy.
Host: One Bitcoin is a million satoshis, right? So you're saying that Bitcoin's going to get up to 1 million?
Isaiah Jackson: Well, a hundred million, yeah. I think Bitcoin's going to get up to—
Host: [Interposing] A hundred—it's 100 million, yeah.
Isaiah Jackson: Yup.
Host: Even bigger.
Isaiah Jackson: Yeah. A hundred million. Yeah, so I think that'll happen—
Host: [Interposing] All right. To the moon.
Isaiah Jackson: Yeah. I mean, I honestly think that there is no top for where Bitcoin can go because if it basically sucks up all of the, the money that's out right now, bonds, gold, silver, market, all of that, it can get there pretty easily.
Host: Got it. And then long run if we're talking like next 10 years, what are things that people should be doing to set themselves up for success in the long run and create that generational wealth that we want them to create?
Isaiah Jackson: Oh yeah. So with buying it and securing it, you want to make sure again you teach the people around you, because generational wealth can't happen if nobody else in your family knows your private keys or can access your treasure. You know what I mean? Like you just basically just—it—it's gone away.
So you want to make sure that that's in place if you have a will, if you have a way to, to relay that message to family, you want to do that. Also, with generational wealth, you want to make sure that you not only have, I wouldn't say a business in Bitcoin, but you should have something related to the crypto industry. Meaning you should either accept crypto, you should either, you know, have a crypto law aspect or if you're an engineer, you should probably be creating smart contracts at some point.
That has to be a part of your life because if you can pass it down to your kids, which again I'm teaching a, a Bitcoin summer camp this summer. If you pass that down to your kids, they can enter an industry that is the future. Before, you know, they don't have to wait 30 years for it to be established and then just hope to get a job. So I think that is very important to create generational wealth.
Host: Got it. And then last question, for nonblack allies that are listening to this podcast maybe, you know, white people who have benefitted from the system a little bit, what are some things that they can do to help the black community and to just help even out the playing field in the long term?
Isaiah Jackson: I would say first thing is if you didn't do anything, don't feel guilty. I hate this sort of narrative where people are like yeah, you're white; you got it from somebody else, from your parents or whatnot. You should give us a piece of it. It's like, well they just inherited it. I mean, I would just say stop the—all the crying about being sorry at the—we—I don't care about that.
What I would say is, just be fair. If you've never even looked at a list of black businesses to invest in as a VC, just look. That's it. That's all black people are asking is, we're working hard, we doing our thing. It's just you won't even look this way because of stigmas based on the fact that we may not be able to handle money as well or that in the tech field, we can't establish a longterm business.
So—sorry. I would say just be fair, just live your life, and for most people if they do that, a lot of the problems that can be solved amongst other communities will be solved as well. I don't, I don't think people need to do—go over—go overboard trying to solve racism by themselves like a superhero. That's pretty much impossible. But if you just be a good person and be fair in your business dealings, I think that is the first step towards the future we all want to see.
Host: Awesome. Well thanks so much, Isaiah. One more quick thing before we go. I always like to end every podcast episode with a segment I called, Explain Your Tweet, which is where I dig through your Twitter account and pull out some interesting or cryptic or funny tweets—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] Oh, man.
Host: —and give you a chance to explain them. So you've got a lot of good content on there. The first one I've got is from March 30th. You tweeted, "Took a digital field trip to the black arts district on Cryptovoxels and this really is the future. Shout out to the creators and artists who made this possible." I've actually never seen this before or heard about it. Can you just talk a little bit more about what Cryptovoxels are and then what—like, is it separated by districts and you can go to the black arts district, or how does that work?
Isaiah Jackson: Yep. So there's districts. They put out new land every week where you can bid on it in Ethereum. A virtual world that was introduced to me where most artists, they're starting to build museums with their art where you can click on it, you can bid on it through a third party like OpenSea or Rarible or whatever. And the thing I like about it is that the VR game is just getting started. I think there's going to be tons of people who find—a lot of their fun is going to come from putting on VR glasses, having a virtual world, and doing the same stuff.
And I think that with Cryptovoxels, one of the best aspects, just like Decentraland, is that in a digital world, we can have or build things early now that in the future I think will be worth way more, because the digital world hasn't really been explored.
I just talked to a friend who helped build the metaverse for Burning Man, the, the festival. She helped build the entire metaverse for that because it was online and digital this year, and I was like, this is literally the future and the black arts district is just a reflection of that, is that there are black artists who have not been paid adequately over the years, and they can earn revenue in crypto that they couldn't before. Because again, if, if they sell it to somebody and they sell it to somebody else, they can earn residual forever, and I think that's good for our community and we should definitely be upfront, and on Cryptovoxels, you can see it. The black arts district.
Host: That's awesome. I'm definitely going to go check that out, and you guys should too. I always tell people one of the best ways to learn about crypto and get into the space is just try it out for yourself, so—and whenever I hear about new things like Cryptovoxels, I always like to go and check it out for myself.
Isaiah Jackson: Absolutely.
Host: All right. So—
Isaiah Jackson: [Interposing] So much to learn. I can't keep up - -.
Host: There's so—I know. Well, it's constantly changing too. So it's like once you think you've like caught up, there's like something new going on. All right. The next tweet, this is from March 13th. You said, "Moving to LA after 28 years in my hometown changed my life forever. You don't know how to really hustle until you're out of your comfort zone. So you talk about that story in your book. You moved out to LA with your business—to be with your business partner so that you guys could really grow the business, but—so—are—where are you from originally? Is it North Carolina where you're at right now?
Isaiah Jackson: Mmhm, yep. I'm originally from Charlotte, and yeah, moved out to LA when I was 28, stayed there for three years full time. Right now, I'm splitting time, but yes; LA was—man, if you've never lived in a big city before, you have to adjust instantly. Nobody's going to apologize for running you over.
So I think from a business standpoint, it kept me sharp, and then my business partner which we do The Gentlemen of Crypto together, we basically helped each other in this market together because I was in LA which made it a bit easier, but yeah, love it, I love the people out there, can't wait to get back and be there, you know, back and forth, but yeah. Move to a big city if you want to prove yourself. I think big cities; they definitely show who's the strong and who can get stuff done.
Host: A hundred percent, yeah. And you'll find more opportunity there too, so it's a win win.
Isaiah Jackson: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Host: All right. And then last thing, it's not a specific tweet, but you've got a ton of tweets about The Bitcoin Classic.
Isaiah Jackson: Oh yeah.
Host: This is a basketball tournament down in Miami. I—like, tell people what this is. I've never heard about it before.
Isaiah Jackson: Yeah, so just partnered up with my friend, Yusuf. He has a company called City of Guards. They do basketball tournaments around the country, and I thought it would be great to have a basketball tournament. One of my biggest loves. Before Bitcoin, it was basketball. I would—thought it would be great to have it at the biggest Bitcoin tournament in the world, because I'm starting to see a lot of athletes talk about Bitcoin.
We just saw the Sacramento Kings today said that they are—they can pay any player or coach in Bitcoin if they want. So we're starting to see it permeate through the, the league anyway. So I was like, well, if we have a classic, or a Bitcoin tournament where people can play basketball, you know, I showed, showed my highlights on Twitter just to get it going. Because again, I've played high school a little bit in college, but I think a lot of people just want to find something outside of just to take part and talking about - -.
Just something to have fun and just sort of, you know, hang out with other people who may be good at basketball. Bring some NBA players, bring some sponsors. Grill out and have some fun. Not—are you going? You should, you should come through to The Bitcoin Classic.
Host: I just heard—I just found out about it when I was going through your Twitter today, so I don't have any plans. When is it? It's this summer, right?
Isaiah Jackson: Yep. It'll be at Bitcoin 2021. It's June 5th through 6. The winner wins 25,000 in Bitcoin. Looking for sponsors now, so if you want to sponsor reach out. And for spectators, it's only 20 bucks, but you'll get to network with some of the best people in the Bitcoin space.
Host: Well, it's definitely on my radar. That's awesome. Amazing. Okay. Well, well, thanks so much Isaiah for being here. It was great talking to you. Thanks for going through your book with me, and I'm definitely going to preorder your second book, and I can't wait to get my hands on that and dive through that.
If—listeners, if you haven't checked out Isaiah's book yet, definitely go check it out, Bitcoin and Black America, and then go and preorder the second book so that you can stay up to date on all of this. It's—I—it's, it's really one of the best ways I think to get into the space in the first place. He just does such a great job of breaking down all the concepts and has so many good practical use cases that I think everybody can relate to and understand at a, at a really basic level.
So I love that. And Isaiah, before you go, last thing, just tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally and then feel free to plug, you know, I—I feel like we've talked about it all already, but summarize it for people and plug the most important things that you've got coming up.
Isaiah Jackson: Oh yeah. So most important things coming up, you can—well, first let me say where you can find me: @bitcoinzay on Twitter, @theisaiahjackson on Instagram, and at bitcoinandblackamerica.com. And the most important things coming up are the Bitcoin and Black America tour, June through December, the Bitcoin summer camp in July, and Community Crypto, my weekly show on CoinDesk TV.
Host: Awesome. Thanks again so much, Isaiah. Thank you, listeners, for tuning in, and we'll be back again soon with another episode of The Unstoppable Podcast.
Isaiah Jackson: Thank you. Appreciate it.