A week or so ago, Forbes magazine released its annual list of the country’s 400 richest people. As both a fan of hip-hop – a genre of music obsessed with all things material – as well as a broke twentysomething, I found it an fascinating read.
This year, for the first year ever, you had to have over a billion dollars to even make the list, which struck me as very interesting. Apparently, while the rest of the country sinks that much further into debt, the richest of the rich are having their best year evar. Coincidence?
Also, I didn’t bother to go through the list with a fine tooth comb as well as a paper bag, but I’m assuming there weren’t any black people to be found on it. In fact, there didn’t seem to be very many non-whites on the list at all, which would seem counterintuitive given the natural intellectual superiority of the Asian community.
Intrigued, I made my way over to history’s most accurate encyclopedia. A page on the Forbes list linked to this fascinating entry on black billionaires, of which there aren’t very many. Depending on how you look at it, there’s either only one – Oprah, natch – or as many as five.
You see, Oprah is the word’s only billionaire of predominantly sub-Saharan African ancestry. There also happen to three Arab billionaires with a little black in them, but not predominantly so. And the state of BET founder Bob Johnson’s fortune is currently in flux. Crap!
Backed up woman hater that I am, of course I found it bothersome (just wrong) psychically that the world’s richest black person is a woman and not a man. But I was also none too pleased to learn that Bob Johnson had half of his billion dollars taken from him by some woman, which is why he no longer appears on the list.
And I suppose it isn’t exactly encouraging that the ranks of the world’s richest black people are made up primarily of athletes and entertainers. As rich as they are, neither Oprah nor Bob Johnson rank among the country’s 400 richest people. And the fortunes of esteemed hip-hop figures such as Russell Simmons and P. Diddy seem relatively piddly by comparison.
To be sure, black people – and relatively young black people at that – have made quite a bit of money entertaining whitey. But it seems obvious that attaining wealth on the level of this country’s elite is going to require a lot more than that.