By James Clingman
The New York Times carried an article titled, “White House Hosts ‘Next Generation’ Young and Rich,” in its Fashion and Style section, of all places, on April 18. The piece revealed several issues we need to be aware of as we move toward 2050, the year demographers say White people will be the minority in this nation. Unless you are among the most naïve people in the world, you know why the rich kids were to the White House in the first place. So let’s look at the bigger picture and its implications for Black people.
The piece notes, “Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now to ‘empower’ young philanthropists. Professionals in the field, citing an Accenture report from 2012, estimate that more than $30 trillion in wealth will pass from baby boomers to younger generations by around 2050.” What an interesting convergence of events. Whites become the minority and $30 trillion is transferred to their children. Another interesting point is the apparent need to “empower” the young philanthropists. Since when have billionaires needed to be empowered?
The sub-headline stated, “Including the Young and the Rich.” Since when have billionaires needed to be included? They have always included themselves. Money controls politics; it’s not the other way around. Thus, bringing rich kids to the White House for a tête-à-tête is nothing more than pandering, but the larger issue for Black folks is that we are not and will not be included in economic discussions as they pertain to control and empowerment. It ensures, as if that needs to be done, that while the political majority may be “minorities,” the overwhelming economic majority will remain in the hands of the rich kids. But as the saying goes, “I ain’t mad at ‘em.” They are taking care of their interests and their own people, while we continue to rely on charlatans and hucksters to show us the way to the next “maach.”
There are two groups of people: those who are seeking power and those who already have power. It is pretty obvious what group the rich kids are in. By the way, I wonder if Bob and Sheila Johnson’s kids were invited to the billionaire soiree. There were no Black kids in the photos I saw. But maybe the Johnsons don’t have enough billions to qualify.
It is disheartening to watch Black people settle for so little from our abundance. No, we do not have the same resources as the rich kids, but we do have enough to command respect and to leverage economic and political benefits. But we have this “messiah complex” when it comes to leadership; we continually vie for the “HNIC” position in politics, religion, community activism, education, sports, and every other category, instead of establishing a cadre of proven, intelligent, unafraid, and un-beholden men and women to lead the way forward.
Our attempts to gain economic freedom, since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, have not worked, which is another reason Black rich kids were not summoned to the White House. To politicians the Black elite are folks who have no independence. Heads of nonprofit organizations dependent on the largess of corporations owned by the rich kids, preachers who capitulate to the political whims of groups with whom they disagree on basic Biblical tenets, and talking heads who have been chosen by the rich kids to speak for Black people, are the ones called to the White House. They have no power; they only have influence.
In 2050 only the demographics will have changed. The real power—economic power—will still be in the hands of the rich kids featured in the New York Times article, and the so-called minorities will still be “maachin” and decrying voting rights infringements. The rich kids are planning for 2050 right now, and so are the top political players, while Black folks are celebrating the fact that we will be in the majority by then. What benefit will that bring us if we have no collective economic foundation from which to support ourselves and obtain reciprocity in the marketplace?
Land, labor, and capital, the basic assets necessary for economic empowerment, are what Black folks need to prepare for 2050. We don’t need a bunch of bought-and-paid-for puppets bloviating about issues that hardly affect us at all. We don’t need more photo opportunities, superficial press conferences with little or no follow through, and certainly not a continuation of endless rhetoric that rings hollow when it comes to our economic advancement. We are still economically enslaved in 2014, after all we have been led to believe by the HNICs, and if we don’t change now, we will still be economically enslaved in 2050.
In 2050 the rich kids will be in charge, and as the article cited, “Justin McAuliffe, a 24-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune, was similarly impressed by the crowd. ‘Hilton, Marriott, and Carlson,’ he said. ‘That is cool.’” Cool indeed.
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.