Jackson views Bitcoin as a tool for economic freedom and is a proponent for self-custody and self-reliance within the ecosystem. He has authored numerous resources aimed at Black investors on the fundamentals of blockchain technology and how to get started in investing.
“The ability to circulate dollars in a community enriches everyone and makes them inherently self-sufficient. Bitcoin offers a similar dynamic,” he said in an interview.
Jackson is the co-host of “The Gentlemen of Crypto,” a daily YouTube show, and “Community Crypto” on CoinDesk’s CDTV. He is also the co-founder of KRBE Digital Assets Group, a consultancy that offers tools and advice to investors.
His work has been featured in Forbes, Vogue, CoinDesk, and Black Enterprise, and he was named on named on CoinDesk’s Most Influential 2021.
Jackson was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from North Carolina State University in 2011.
Financial discrimination and the Black community
Growing up, Jackson observed the financial disparities in the communities around him, specifically how the government would create ways of devaluing real estate in the area.
Jackson points out that real estate is one of the best ways for middle-class Americans to build wealth. However, he argues that Black communities have been historically disenfranchised in real estate investments through housing discrimination and banks refusing loans to Black Americans, making them unable to obtain mortgages. Further, redlining, broadly defined as racial discrimination of any kind in housing, systematically depleted wealth from Black communities and barred residents from economic advancement.
While speaking of the communities where he grew up, Jackson notes: “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 you buy can never actually increase [in value].
That was a concerted effort by the government because they built it [highways] through 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 [there are] usually more poor black neighborhoods. That was deliberate.”
As a result, Jackson began to think deeply about the connection between real estate, wealth building, financial systems, and government programs.
Role in the Bitcoin community
Jackson working as a High School teacher in 2013 when he was introduced to Bitcoin by his roommate.
Jackson went on to reach the Bitcoin whitepaper and immediately became curious about the cryptocurrency, both from a conceptual point of view and as a means to supplement his teaching income. After learning more about the crypto space, he decided to become a Bitcoin consultant and trader.
Bitcoin and Black America
When Jackson started consulting on crypto, he realized that 90% of his clients were Black. Jackson saw the need to present information on blockchain, investing, and crypto fundamentals all in one place, and to target audiences that crypto didn’t normally reach.
He said that the idea of writing a book came about after teenager Michael Brown was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2016. He wanted to explore the economic injustices faced by various groups and how Bitcoin can positively impact communities of color.
“Bitcoin & Black America” was published in 2019 and received significant attention during the global George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020. Jack Dorsey promoted the book on Twitter, and Jackson gave numerous interviews on using Bitcoin to achieve economic freedom.
Bitcoin’s impact for Black communities
Jackson views Bitcoin as a form of peaceful protest of the current economic system. He argues that Bitcoin can help obtain economic justice by moving money out of the traditional financial system that has historically discriminated against various communities.
Bitcoin has no barrier to entry, is non-confiscatable, and shifts money and energy away from banks. Jackson believes that crypto can help to bring intergenerational wealth to people that were actively harmed by the banking system.
“For the first time in history, we have a Plan B option to the current financial system which has seen years of redlining, racial discrimination, and other egregious acts by retail banks to the Black community,” he told CNBC.
“Not Yo Keys; Not Yo Cheese”
Jackson believes that investors cannot be certain of their crypto holdings unless they store them in a wallet where they personally hold the keys. A riff on “not your keys, not your crypto,” Jackson advocates for self-reliance and self-sufficiency in the blockchain ecosystem so users can ensure that they always have control of their funds.
Potential for discrimination in blockchain
Jackson has warned about the potential for digital redlining in the blockchain space, where the same discriminatory practices are applied through technology. He worries that AI and algorithms could systemically bar citizens from transacting in crypto or receiving loans.
Jackson has urged Black investors to get in on Bitcoin as a means of savings in the long-term. He believes that the cryptocurrency offers a better store value than gold.
He dismisses concerns about Bitcoin’s volatility, saying that it is a scarce asset and that drops are due to market cycles.
“In my opinion, bitcoin, just like any other money, has its three stages. Bitcoin is just getting started. So, we have a store of value, then we move to a medium of exchange, then from there, a unit of account.”
Isaiah Jackson essentials
- Isaiah Jackson is a Bitcoin educator, speaker, and author of “Bitcoin & Black America.”
- Jackson views Bitcoin as an alternative to the traditional banking system, which has historically discriminated against Black communities.
- He encourages investors to acquire bitcoin for long-term savings.