08 December 2005

What is WEALTH?

I just turned off an episode of CRIBS. You know the show - where celebrities like to show off their bling, their cars, their gear, their CRIBS. I typically don't watch the show because it should be called, "Look At All The Shit I Have That You Don't"

Am I hatin'? Sure, maybe a little. But who could blame me?

I mean, you have some rapper, or some dude that rides skateboards for a living and they have a $2,000,000.00 home, with 6 bedrooms, 2 heated pools, a massive game room, 2 basketball courts, a tennis court, a baseball field, a yacht and 14 cars. And they rap or ride bikes or dribble a basketball for a living. Whereas I, a fairly smart guy, a decent family guy with a nice job and beautiful family and friends don't have all that shit. So - you're damned right - I am hatin' a little.

But, my hate aside - this show and shows like it, hurt some Black folks. These shows mispresent wealth and what it is to be wealthy. Many Blacks see these shows and figure Lil'Bow-Wow, or Snoop Dogg, or Tony Hawks and these guys are wealthy. They figure - like many folks - that in order to be wealthy you must have possessions. And not only have possessions - but be able to show people these possessions.

Take for example: Many rappers and other people are now buying gold 'fangs' to put over their teeth, they have diamond encrusted rings and watches and rims to SHOW everyone that they are wealthy. You see this in day to day actions with non-celebrity people too - how many of us have seen these teen aged mom's with little 2 year olds wearing $130 Avirex leather jackets? Or how many times have we seen men and women driving $60,000 cars and parking them in front of apartments that cost less than $500 a month?

Many of our people are so blinded by the concept of wealth being material goods AND the ability to show off these goods that they do nothing more than make themselves poor.

Consider this situation: A man hit the lottery and won $500,000 dollars. He proceeded to do this:

-Bought 4 cars - A Porsche, a BMW, a Cadillac Escalade, and a Corvette - $230,000
-Customized all 4 - $55,000
-Bought 3 new motorcycles - $19,000
-Took 17 friends to Las Vegas for a weekend gambling trip - $48,000
-Bought new clothes, DVD players, Plasma TV's, games, CD's, DVD's etc. - $26,000
-Gave family and friends gifts - $50,000
-Spent $17,000 on [mostly] losing lottery tickets. - $17,000
-Paid his $900 a month rent in advance for six months - $5,500

This poor fellow is still bragging to everyone that he is rich, he is wealthy - he still says this to people! To meet this man - wearing a sharp suit, driving a shiny BMW and listening to him talk about his motorcycles and his cars - many folks might accept that he has been successful and has been rewarded in life with financial security. This would be a lie though. This man is broke and in even more debt than he had before he hit the lottery. He, like many others is disillusioned into believing that wealth mean possessions. The only people WEALTHY in this deal are the companies that sold him the cars and motorcycles and clothes and electronics. This man is very very poor. But he has furthered the wealth of Porsche, Cadillac, Sony, Suzuki, Harley Davidson, Chevrolet, Calvin Klein and others.

I want and I hope that Black people can keep this example in mind and we can stop giving all of our money and our true wealth away to multi-million and multi-billion dollar companies all to try and one-up our neighbors and to try and impress those around us. I'm not saying - take a vow of poverty or be ashamed of living well, no - nothing of the sort. I just want people, especially my Black Brothers and Sisters to use our wealth, wisely.

What is wealth? Well, you can look the word up in a dictionary and get several meanings. But to The Thinking Black Man, I'd have to say that wealth is the financial means to live well, to support one's self and all of one's dependents while still having the money to afford various luxuries and revenue generating endeavours. WHEW - Now that was a mouthful!

But, I will also tell you what wealth is not. (In my opinion)

WEALTH is not having more money in your driveway than you make in a year.
WEALTH is not spending one months salary on sneakers.
WEALTH is not putting more gold in your mouth than you have in your pocket.
WEALTH is not dressing your child in a $300 outfit when you can barely afford to feed him.
WEALTH is not defined by the names Fendi, Chanel,Prada or Dolce & Gabanna.

Define your wealth - don't let others define it for you.



Ms.Crystal said...

I love your point of view and I also have to say most of these people get things donated, given to them and such. The 7k dollar Armani Suit was given to them because they are in the eyes of the public. So most of the time it is a front.

FFG_in_training said...

Hi there -- wanted to leave you a non-spam comment and tell you that I really find your blog interesting. I especailly agree with your perspective on the wacked-out values in our world today. Not that I think it matters, but I'm a 30-something white chick, blue-voter in a red-state... the wacked out values (money over core values, the baby daddy phenomenon, and so on) are all over, not only restricted to the black community, that's for sure. At any rate, good writing, interesting observations.

*** X said...

thank you for challenging the de facto perspectives. I know that it is iimportant, in our current society to include "black" as a adjectival signifier to challenge the stereotype, but I think good sense reign supreme, and that it does not matter what is the colour of you or anyone who agrees with you, it's the good sense that rings out in agreement, and that is good enough for me.