Bruce’s Beach is a small parcel of land along the beach in Manhattan Beach, CA (near Los Angeles). It was purchased by Charles and Willa Bruce in 1912 and they built a lodge, cafe and dance hall there. More importantly, their businesses gave the Black community access to the beach.

Unfortunately, this new thriving community would not last and in 1924 – because of mounting pressure from their white neighbors, the Ku Klux Klan and local real estate agents – the city declared eminent domain over the property, stating they needed a park in this exact location.

The Bruces were paid a tiny amount for their prime parcel of land and for decades the property sat vacant. No park. Nothing. Ownership was eventually passed to the State of California (1948) and then to LA County (1995).

Fortunately, for the descendants of the Bruce family, this does have a happy ending. Last week, LA County gave the property back to them, now worth millions.

(Here’s a link to an article talking about all of this.)

As I read the comments attached to this story through various news outlets, it became very apparent that people were having money meltdowns. Most of the people didn’t like that this family was being “given” a large parcel of land on a beach worth at least $75 million (according NPR estimates).

“This happened over 100 years ago. Why can’t we just let this be and move on.”
“Great. My tax dollars at work.”
“Now I’m going to lose access to a public park.”

And so on.

To these commenters, the transaction didn’t seem “fair” and, in their minds, the land shouldn’t be “given” to this family.

But let’s be honest, the land wasn’t being “given” to anyone; it was being returned.

There’s a big difference.

It’s also important to note that returning the land isn’t the same thing as restitution. Yes, it’s a step in the right direction, but that doesn’t compensate for what COULD HAVE been for this family and the Black community during the almost 100 years the land was held by the government.

Let’s look at this from three vantage points: money mindset, money trauma and money & racism.

MONEY MINDSET: We live in an abundant world. For this family to have their property returned doesn’t exclude the rest of us from obtaining wealth nor can it stop us from enjoying the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. If you find yourself saying “That’s not fair,” or “Why can’t that be me,” it’s time to check your mindset around money. It needs a tune up.

MONEY TRAUMA: Money trauma will show up differently. It impacts our emotions and bodies. Less about scarcity, trauma is a visceral, instant reaction to a person, place, thing, or situation outside of us (whether that reaction is rational or not). In the case of Bruce’s Beach, this transaction has no real effect on most of us, yet many will feel something about it. Check yourself. Are you experiencing some type of visceral reaction to this news? Would it make a difference if you were a tax-payer in this county? Now’s a good time to check in with what you’re feeling and ask yourself why.

MONEY & RACISM: When it comes to the intersection of Money & Racism (which could be its own discussion) I want to focus on the effects. Racism played an obvious role in the government using legal means to take the Bruce’s land and force the Black community off the beach. But there is another impact of racism. If you take a look at the potential for what could have been, of what the Bruce family could have built, you start to see that the financial exchange that is happening now is not nearly enough. This one act of racism has impacted the money relationship for this family for generations. Where could their descendants be today if what Charles and Willa Bruce built back then was allowed to thrive? How might their relationship with money be different? Those are the questions we need to be asking. Returning the land is a good gesture, but it will never change what happened. It’s simply the start of the healing process.

These kinds of events, big and small, impact each of us on an almost daily basis. It doesn’t have to be the government taking your land. It could be a speeding ticket you didn’t think you deserved at a time when money felt too tight. It could be supply chain issues making you feel like there is never enough. I could even be as simple as a client saying no to your offer or a story like this in the news.

All of these things will affect our relationship with money and, ultimately, the amount of income we make.

UNLESS we deal with the ROOT cause of our money issues.


To your impact and legacy,