There are no Black billionaires
There are people who happen to be black in terms of the broad racial category who also happen to have a net worth over $1 billion, but, as we all know, skinship ain’t kinship. In other words, they ain’t us. This isn’t a grade school debate about crayon colors and struggle olympics. This also isn’t a judgement about the value of human beings based on their racial or cultural identity.
When I say, “I am a Black man,” it is not simply a description of my physical appearance or melanin content. It is a political statement that describes a set of choices, values, and loyalties. I don’t happen to be black, I choose to be Black.
Back to the point. How can I say there are no Black (with a capital B) billionaires? Well, you can’t just look at what public information is available because
- There are people who are billionaires that have never publicly disclosed this fact and even the government/IRS may not know.
- If there was a Black billionaire, you may not be able to tell how they spend their money if they’re doing it right.
So I can’t look at someone like Oprah and tell directly thru publicly available information if she qualifies as a Black billionaire. I can only look at the results I see in the world and determine if a Black billionaire exists.
It then follows that this is a binary determination. I can’t tell how many Black billionaires exist using this theory. I can only tell if at least one exists. I’m also choosing an arbitrary number of 1 billion, but I’d be comfortable saying that there’s not a Black person on the planet with more than $100 million in net worth because I would see evidence of it in the world. If a person with any kind of loyalty to the Black community and any level of basic understanding about our current place in society with that amount of money existed, certain other things would also be true because enough time has passed where they could have accomplished such things.
If a Black billionaire existed, there would be a sizable foundation or endowment funding Afrikan centered schools, and most black and Black people would know what an Afrikan centered school is. Most people reading this right now probably do not, which is a major problem and evidence that there are no real resources behind it.
If a Black billionaire existed, there would be significantly more Black farmers and farmland. A billionaire with a Black agenda would know that there is no Black progress if we aren’t self sufficient when it comes to our basic needs. It doesn’t get more basic than feeding ourselves.
If a Black billionaire existed, there would be more significant innovations in key areas (alternative energy, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, aerospace engineering) coming out of HBCUs and other Black research institutions. These achievements would be very difficult to miss.
If a Black billionaire existed, there would be little to no Black homelessness or child poverty in at least one mid-size to large majority-Black city. This is achievable if anyone with enough resources cared enough to take it on.
If there was a Black billionaire, it would show up in the film industry. Why have we not seen a proper Nat Turner movie? Why has there been no Queen Nzinga blockbuster? Why are there no Octavia Butler movies? Why are amazing Black film makers who don’t follow the standard played out narratives (gangster films, slave movies, corny rom coms, etc) not getting enough funding? Because Hollywood studios won’t do it and there must be no independent Black sources of funding that aren’t beholden to non-Black overseers.
I could go on. I could understand if at least a couple of these examples were true, and these Black billionaires just hadn’t gotten around to the rest. But NONE of them are true. And if none of them are true, then a real Black billionaire couldn’t possibly exist, and all of the people we think of as Black billionaires actually just happen to be black and have no loyalty to Black people or a Black agenda.
I am an angel investor and I have experience in several other asset classes. I know what it looks like when big money moves into a market. I know what small money initiatives look like too. Every business or investment initiative I’ve seen Black people do in America is minor league or purely self serving. Every Black venture capital fund and private equity fund I’ve seen is either minor league or is clearly not motivated by any Black agenda beyond tokenism and symbology, and not building real, sustainable Black power.
To be clear...a $10M real estate fund is minor league....micro league even. Buying an NBA team is minor league. Giving $40M to the graduating class of Morehouse is barely worth mentioning.
If you disagree, I would submit that you lack a basic understating of the scale at which the rest of the world operates.
This is not meant to be an insult or to trivialize all the hard work that is happening, and I understand that things take time and we have a long way to go. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I’m really not trying to be offensive or divisive. But if a Black billionaire existed, things would be happening much faster and with more precision and strategic intelligence...or Black people really are inferior, and I don’t believe that for a second.
One billionaire really can have that much influence. More than one would change the world in a generation.
Finally, this is not a complaint, but merely an observation and call to action. There are no wealthy Black people (yet) coming to save us. We have no choice but to organize ourselves beyond simply buying Black, investing haphazardly in real estate, trading stocks, options, forex, or any other method of individualistic investing. “Buying the block” is not enough. We should do all those things PLUS invest collectively in taking over entire markets and becoming economically self-sufficient. There are people doing these things. They are all severely underfunded. If a Black billionaire existed, at least one of them wouldn’t be.
I would be happy for these happen-to-be-black billionaires to prove me wrong and put some REAL money towards something that actually matters. Until then, we must organize. I’m doing my part over at blackstarcapital.net for those who are interested in being a part of one of many possible solutions....hopefully one of many.