Do Black People Need Black Billionaires?

Remember the black preachers, politicians, and business people like Bob Johnson who tried to convince us Trump would be good for black people?

““Work is more precarious today than it was in the past, and in particular, black individuals are more likely to be in precarious employment scenarios with jobs that face greater wage and work-hour volatility,” Hamilton said. “Bob Johnson’s in the billionaire’s club with Donald Trump, so it’s not surprising that they align in their vision on labor.”

Johnson, who’s been friendly with Trump through the years, said he had met with Trump at his golf club in New Jersey shortly after his win when the president-elect offered Johnson a cabinet position.”

“America’s First Black Billionaire Says Trump Economy Has Been Good For African Americans” | The Washington Post | Tracy Jan | 04/07/2018

As culture warriors, pro-Trump African Americans are finding it harder to make that case. Indeed, they’ve squandered what little cred we begrudgingly gave them. More spin, less fact is now the order of the day.

The economics front looks better. Black unemployment has been trending downwards, though that’s been a trend through the Obama years. Labor force participation has been trending upwards, as well.

Still, African American median household income—the best measure we have of a family’s purchasing power—has been trending downwards with  no signs of ticking upwards:

“African Americans were worse off financially in 2016 than they were in 2000.

The median income for an African American household was $39,490 last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week. It was $41,363 in 2000. (Both figures are in 2016 dollars, so they have been adjusted for inflation).

African Americans are the only racial group the Census Bureau identifies that has been left behind. White, Asian and Latino households have all seen at least modest income gains since 2000.”

“African Americans Are The Only U.S. Racial Group Earning Less Than In 2000” | Los Angeles Times | Heather Long | 09/15/2017

Overall the verdict on the economic health of black working households is mixed at best. My take on Bob Johnson is just as mixed.

I want more black people owning capital, particularly media properties. But I don’t want BET as a model. It’s has been the world’s most successful and notorious pimp of low-brow black culture, which has always made me wonder whether Johnson cares more about black eyeballs than black brain cells.

Because there are so few black billionaires, we need the first ever to be an honest broker who can decipher what upticks in economic stats mean for black people. Nothing Warren Buffet says is ever understood as bullshit intended to gaslight white people with 401Ks. The same should be just as true of Johnson and black people. We also need him to acknowledge stagnant or declining African American wage growth while also challenging a President who’s been openly hostile to us.

Thus far, Johnson has done neither, and I can’t imagine this stuff gets discussed while Trump fluffs his golf score.


IMAGE SOURCE: An African American man cuts fabric in a large garment shop with a power cutter

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