Photo: Kevork Djansezian (Getty Images)
After reading the positions of MANY on the recent news relating to Jay-Z and his purchasing a majority ownership stake in an NFL team I think we need to have a discussion about capitalism.
…and while I think EVERYONE can use a refresher, when I say we I’m specifically talking about Black people…
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets.
Being a student of money myself I try to look at 3 things financially:
-Where I come from
-Where I am
-Where I want to be
When I think about where I come from I’m not talking just about the household I grew up in. I’m talking about the patterns of money reaching back generations. I think about the history of Black people in America and the disproportionate wealth in this country as a result of a system build to our disadvantage. A system that extends beyond an economic or political ideology and extends into religious thought or spiritual oppression, a lack of access to education or mental oppression, and institutional racism that keeps us physically oppressed. As a result of this, I can understand a reluctance to want to understand capitalism because we as a people haven't ever really had a fair shot at it. Fair however, is for fables...I elaborate more on this here.
When I think about where I am I’m not just talking about what I physically possess as balances in my bank account or property I own. I’m talking about the knowledge I’ve acquired, the people I’ve met, the responsibility I hold to share what I’ve learned and accomplished with others who continue to be impacted by the different forms of oppression I’ve outlined above. I teeter on the line of being mindful of the obstacles and set backs Black people have and continue to face everyday, vs. taking personal responsibility to educate myself on methods to navigate around those obstacles so that I can become a private owner as described in the definition of capitalism above. That is to say very boldly that I acknowledge the obstacles and feel myself, empowered to do something about it.
Finally, when I think about where I want to be I can’t say it’s unlike a position similar to Jay Z’s. You see hurt feelings and emotional reactions aside, he’s in a position to make the most change by learning the rules of this game and using it to his (and his family’s) advantage. He’s in a position to earn, to learn, to grow, and to influence in a way that many of us cannot.
That’s not to say it won’t come without struggles or strife. That his character won’t be tested. That his dedication to social causes won’t be challenged. What it does say however is that he’s in a position to make decisions that the average Black American is not. He’s in a position of POWER, and having power does NOT make him a sell out. Refusing to learn how to acquire power makes you one though.
I know that is a bold statement and that it won't be popular with many. However what we need to all do, is follow his lead and become students of money. We need to understand how capitalism works not because we agree with it or because we want to be capitalist (and there is nothing wrong at all with wanting to become one), but because in order to play the game, and play the game right we need to understand the game.
The advantages it affords us.
The power it brings us.
Because until we build ourselves up to a position where we can make a difference in the way the system works, all we can do is kneel in protest or complain about how unfair things are.
…and well… we see how well that works.
I know that to many of the potential readers of this that there is no grey area. That social justice is social justice. However, I implore you to consider that there is more than 1 way to skin a cat and that Colin Kaepernick is doing things one way, and Jay is doing things another.
You certainly CAN bring a knife to a gun fight, however you’ll probably get shot before you can use said knife. I think it’s still very early to tell, but in my opinion Jay Z is getting his guns ready.