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Dr. Boyce: Buffoonery Rarely Gets You Ahead as a Black Man in America

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World

A friend of mine went to New York City to have a meeting with a billionaire. One of the nice advantages of being an Ivy League graduate is that there are super-rich people in the alumni network who can hook you up with amazing opportunities.  In fact, that’s why our entire Supreme Court went to either Harvard or Yale for law school (one of them left Harvard to graduate at Columbia).  Elitist cronyism is bad for America, but it’s good for those who are allowed to take advantage of it.

My friend, a young brother seeking to start his own business, said that he was shocked to find that there was nothing extraordinary about the billionaire:  No Rolls Royce parked in front of the building, no secretary in a bikini serving him Martinis at work, no $10,000 suit, no office the size of Taj Mahal.  Nothing.

The only thing extraordinary about the billionaire was that he was pretty intelligent when it came to his craft, he loved to work hard, he loved his family, and he wanted to make the world a better place. That’s it. In fact, he is planning to give half of his wealth to charity when he dies.

My friend concluded, after meeting with the man, that the billionaire had obtained his massive fortune largely because he DID NOT spend his time “stuntin,” “flossin,” “shining,” and all the other stuff that a lot of people might do if they had that kind of money.  Instead, he was focused on grinding and working hard to be successful.  He wasn’t judgmental about other people who spend most of their time engaged in leisure, but he was the one in college burning the midnight oil while others were looking for the latest party.

I think about this as I recall a recent story about NBA star Deshawn Stevenson, who actually installed an ATM machine in his house, just because he thought it was cool.  I think about all the rappers who wear 100 pounds of jewelry, toss money in the air at the club, and feel that they need to have 15 cars in the driveway.  The number of cars in the driveway, in many cases, is only exceeded by the number of baby mamas who will be sucking him dry once his economic opportunities run out.

The buffoonery is both sad and pathetic.

Mind you, not every person with money behaves in such a ridiculous way, but there is a culture that seems to influence young Black kids to believe that income should be used solely for irresponsible and counter-productive consumption.  You are not here to build wealth, become captains of industry, or use your money to improve the world around you.  Instead, you are meant to use your money to become like the “N*gga in Paris” (Jay-Z) who earned $63 million last year, gave only $6,000 to charity, and sings songs about private jets flying over your head.  Jay-Z also engages in some principles of wealth-building, but what he teaches our youth will leave them broke – some might even call him a slumlord.

The bottom line is that running away from education and economic responsibility is the best way to run right back toward slavery.

You can’t complain about the White man having his foot on your neck if you laid on the ground and placed your neck right underneath him.  All of us have to call out buffoonery when we see it and encourage one another to make better and more productive choices.  It all starts with what you do with your time, your money, and your mind.

Perhaps it’s time for us to elevate our thinking.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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17 Responses to Dr. Boyce: Buffoonery Rarely Gets You Ahead as a Black Man in America

  1. MG Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Well written article, but it is completely out of perspective.

  2. Andre Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    You said it….That is a word from the LORD. Remember the Lord speaks through people. Work hard and stay humble, pride is before the fall.

  3. Pitifully, far too many Blacks forget where they come from after they “make it”. Whatever that means. As long as you came from a race that was exploited by another group to gain power you never “make it” and you always have to work to overcome barriers in that society. When you do as they want you to in order to succeed they give you a pass but when they can not use you for their benefit that changes quickly and you are the boggie man again. This is why Black people have to promote their positive side in music, documentaries and movies. The Black youth get messages to do negative things from music and movies that bring the race down to perpetuate negative thinking and low self-esteem. Blacks can change this by initiating projects and involving other races in position of influence that want change too. I have produced a positive Black DVD series that shines light on the historical legacy of accomplishments of our forebears who set records before affirmative action was even thought about at http://www.myspace.com/topsinfilm. Email: barnett142001@yahoo.com. Black selfishness, greed and ignorance holds too many of our race in bondage.

  4. James Frederick Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    AMEN! This is common knowledge but God Bless you for saying it because as a person in your position, your word is far reaching. It’s a shame young people, more so young black men, do not know of anything else other than the ‘buffoonery’ that literally enslaves them. I am glad to have been taught yound that hard work is the key. Yes some people fall into wealth and riches, but hard work can conquer all, billionaire or not.

  5. Star Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you for your commentary, Dr. Boyce. I agree with everything you said. It needs to be said and realized by all of us. I have NO respect for Jay-Z. He is doing nothing for our youth and teaching them nothing of value. I boycott anything with which he is involved.

  6. Elizabeth Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    It is fun to ready and post to these blogs but let’s get serious, it is crunch time.

    It is 86 days to the election…Let’s talk about the election and Paul Ryan and what he and Romney have in store for Americans if elected: Mitt Romney pandered to the extreme right and announced Paul Ryan as his pick for vice president this morning, guaranteeing that this election will be about tax cuts, Medicare, and the economy.

    Ryan is a rock star for Republicans, the lead architect of the radical right-wing budget that Republicans are pushing in Congress. A budget that calls for:

    Huge new tax cuts for the super-rich on top of extending the Bush tax cuts
    Turning Medicare into a voucher program
    Making massive cuts to vital programs like Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants, and job training
    New increases in military spending — even as President Obama ends two wars
    Let me put this as simply as I can: Paul Ryan is the author of everything we’ve been fighting against in Washington since Republicans took control of the House — and now Mitt Romney wants him to be vice president.

    • Brian Reply

      August 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Elizabeth, Contrary to what you think, what the article talks about is far more important the Mitt and Paul. What we personally do with our wealth is far more important than who holds office. We have not been treated so well under Obama! Look at the loss of wealth for the Black African American and yet Obama has not reached out to help us as he has other groups. No we had better learn the was of wealth growth and how to sustain that wealth!

      • Fernando Reply

        August 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm

        Right on point Brian… We need to speak to what affects our people directly… Regardless of who is in office the slant of policy will always be toward the rich so the best thing we could do as a people is become rich as a whole, not individually and certainly not ignorantly.

  7. PB Short Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    RAP/HIP-HOP is not causing are youth to be irresponsible…

    Their parents are causing them to be irresponsible by not making them attend school, complete their homework, and to join extra-curricular activities…

    It is not the teachers job to make sure your child read their assignments and complete their homework…

    It is the parents job to ensure that their children are well rested and able to complete their homework…

    Too many parents allow their children to play after school…do not demand their children bring home their books and prepare for the next day lesson…

    The reason why your child do not understand what the teacher is teaching is because they did not prepare for the next day lesson and over the weekend…

    But yet, these think it is ok for their child to play outside until dark…wake up in the morning sleepy only to eat breakfast at school…

    Is it really that hard to fix/prepare breakfast for your children?

    Is it really that hard to enforce that your bring all of their books home every night?

    But yet, we blame the music industry for your child failures…do you blame the movie or the television industry for your child’s behavior?

    C’MON people…education starts in the home…

    I bet your child knows how to gossip and knows to judge others…

    I bet your child knows how to dance and RAP, but yet, I am 100% sure that you think your child is a genius…

    Little Johnny do not have to bring his books home because he did his homework in school…yeah right…I do not know anyone who can do their homework in school…just like they practice dancing and rapping, one have to practice their homework…

    It is up to you to monitor and regulate your child activities, not the teachers or the entertainment industry…

    • Yamajasti Reply

      August 14, 2012 at 1:51 am

      Excellent response PB Short. People not only need to start raising there own brood, but they also need to stop blaming others (Jay-z) for their shortcomings as parents and/or guardians.

    • Charmaine Campbell Reply

      August 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Have you ever heard the statement “It take a village to raise a child”. I use to disagree with whites saying that HIP HOP/Rap negative because I felt like we finally had a genre that we owned. However listening to the lyrics of music that promotes violence, sex, drugs and greed do have an influence just as romantic and conscious music. Without the village to give positive and re-enforced guidance the individual is easy prey.

  8. DaTruth Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    The article about Harry Belafonte and Jay-Z is all over the internet, and its sad to see the ignorant and stupid comments a lot of these black people write supporting Jay-Z and cutting down Mr. Belafonte.

  9. AfroTapp Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    A few remarks on this article:
    1)This looks like an article done earlier. . . recycled almost. Either way its reads much like a page from the book “Millionaire Next Door” or “Stop Acting Rich. . .and start living like a real millionaire.” It also seems a little like the fictional book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, not that it isn’t good advice just a fictional account of something that could happen, but didn’t.

    2)The appeal of the “flossin” brand of hip-hop is a “dreaming” appeal. Meaning these are things the audience seeks to be able to accomplish, basically not be in need. Most persons obtaining money quickly are not just fighting against buying frivolous things, but the ability to say “no”. It is the later that gets most people along with bad investments. The inability to say ‘no’ I can’t give you a car or fund your business or slip you $5K. Most of these individuals now are the breadwinners for a whole family and extended family. Some are doing ridiculous stuff, but understand that most is fake and rented and most rappers aren’t getting even 1/4 of what they “dream” on records about. This not to say some don’t use their money unwisely.

    3)All hip-hop/rap is not “flossin” or “gangsta rap” though that is the most commercially successful currently, but that doesn’t mean that is the totality of Hip-hop/rap. Moreover, rather than condemning everything that is hip-hop like parents of old and other persons that tried to do this in the 80′s(i.e.it won’t last its not a true art form) you would do better in accentuating what is positive. . .beneficial(better word, positive is overused) to those most likely to listen to it. This would aid in getting the message out that most of the rappers are broke and doing nothing but dreaming themselves. If a person would talk “to” people rather than “at” you get a lot more mileage when not “preaching” to the choir.

  10. Ishmar Muhammad Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Rap is something ran by corporate Greedy Crackers,Hip Hop is something we got control(Russell Simons) of! Rappers spit shit that is illegal,A real Hip Hop Artists will spit Rhymes to uplift his People! Nas is a Real Emcee,Jay-Z is a Rapper he only Rap about his Self(His Clothes & Chain) because he is just like one of them Crackers Greedy! Nas ain’t perfect but he is Mindful of what these Crackers like Fox News are doing to our peoples images,this is why he took the petions there to condem they Racist Asses! Negroes what is Racism? One Negro told me it was a Whiteboy calling him a Name?No that ain’t it! Racism is being stopped from Voting,living where you want to live & not being able to get a Job or support yourself! When Crackers call us Names the treatment comes next being treated like a N##ga Remember that Racism is a system for the Survival of the Whites & they types! If you are a young Black how can you deal with this system we know nothing about? Some Negroes go around Smiling in Whitefolks faces! Some of these Rap Negroes are nothing more than Stereotypes if we keep letting these fools exist we will be back on the new Plantation (The Pen) some of these fools Gay Anyway(HomoThugs) so tell to kick rocks! Get on away from my people! Braindead Negroes

  11. Ishmar Muhammad Reply

    August 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Brother Harry Belafonte & Bill Cosby are Right!!! Some of these Negroes think these Crackers are they Friends with Friends like this who needs Enemys! Being Black we live with Exploitation Everyday I love Belafonte he did all he could for our people going way Back! F#%k Jay-Z he only Reps Crackers & Throws his Friends Away like Dam Dash! I have a Problem With Self Hating Negroes who side with Crackers against his own People. He not even a Man he a sell out no Doubt & to you Negroes stop putting Value on Entertainers like they MLK,Jackie Robinson was a Tom he dissed Ali! For not going to fight for Racist A## America! Jay-Z ain’t Sh## who he Help? He like a Manigane in the mall look good but ain’t Sh#%

  12. Taritaritari5 Reply

    August 14, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Isaac Hayes comes to mind when I read this article.

    He ended up being ripped off by the closest people to him and his own accountant and wife.

    Racism has not been cured yet and many do not know how to save, apply nor invest their money, let alone, count it, since slavery and abolition!

    Stop flashing what really is not yours to keep.

    Money is a material way to control the masses!

  13. hughbrockington Reply

    August 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

    The negative sounds or rapps that degrade women, children, & Blacks focuses on money, killing,how many babies they have as dead beat daddy “dumb, arrogant, dead-beat, disrespectful & youless” individuals that demonize money as the key element of being successful. Not all rap and hip hop lyrics and artist are bad. If there is anything that the should want to get is a good education, have the spirit of giving back to the community, mentor our youth in a positive and respectful manner, encourage love for Brothers and Sisters, put God 1st by seeking the Kingdom & His rightousness then all these positive things will be added unto you. As much money Jayz and his wife have, it appears that they don’t give anything back to the community but the community made them rich. What community projects or foundations for our youth have they created, how many business or youth mentoring programs, how many homeless people have they helped, how many people in need have they helped & etc. This what I define as part of being successful when you help other get to your level. This is called giving back. They do give back but have left back.

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