Can Having Substantial, Sustained Wealth Have A Negative Effect On The Black Community?

pile of 100 dollar bills
Alyssa Guznik
January 25, 2023

There are songs written about the desire to gain Black wealth and become billionaires. And why not when you have representation like Rihanna, Michael Jordan, and Oprah? But is being a billionaire a goal?

Billionaires don't just have money. They often have wealth valued higher than the wealth of entire nations. CEO of the Dangote Conglomerate in Western Africa, Aliko Dangote, for instance, is worth more money than 77 of the world’s countries!

Even with all the philanthropic donations Black billionaires give, their admirable generosity is rarely felt where it's most needed. Thomas Picketty, author of Capital in the 21st Century, said, "[sic] fortunes can grow beyond any rational justification in terms of social utility." 

And there’s another reason billionaires may harm our community.

Black billionaires, especially if they engage in hoarding resources, tax evasion, nepotism, and other behaviors normalized among the rich, can contribute to wealth inequality.  This makes upward mobility nearly impossible for other members of our community.

We must center Black liberation within our financial investments and economic endeavors. However, doing so to the point of billionaire status continues to use the exploitative capitalist system to grow singular wealth instead of community betterment. Having wealth and sharing that wealth are goals but at what point is it too much?

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