So, I’m not sure if anyone notices the wealth gap between Black people and our white counterparts, but if it’s not clear, there is one.
Early this week, two former NBA players and a recording artist found themselves the subjects headlines I’m sure they didn’t anticipate when they began their careers. One former player, Sebastian Telfair was arrested in Brooklyn, NY after police found him with a small arsenal and drugs in his pickup truck. The second player, Darius Miles, filed for bankruptcy and had to sell his belongings in a yard sale after once making over 66 million dollars during his professional career. Then in music, Sean Kingston also claimed to be broke, with less than $500 to his name and living with his mother as he appeared court over unpaid lawyer fees.
I feel each of their issues stem from a problem that has affected our athletes and musicians alike. That is once their careers are over they have nothing to fall back on. The sport or music industry welcomes them in with open arms, uses them for their talents, then spits them out back into the world for them to fend for themselves.
Black players and musicians have had a longstanding problem with putting all of their eggs in one basket. Their hopes of going pro in their particular sport of choice, or making it big with a hit record overshadow any thoughts of the future. The people who are not a part of the special .1% that do make it are left without a backup plan to ensure they will be financially secure without the sport or music. The ones that do make it, however, are given large contracts and are not given the proper tools and resources that will help them manage their newfound wealth. Thus, they will soon end up back in the same position they started in.
There are many layers that go into why that is, but I think the news and events this week perfectly showcased our common issues with money. That is our spending habits.
Recently rapper Tory Lanez recorded himself telling an employee of an upscale clothing store off. The employee, who was an older white man, apparently discriminated against Lanez and his friends who were there to shop. Instead of taking his business and money elsewhere he still dropped 35K to prove a point. Lanez later attempted to explain his actions by saying he was going to spend that amount of money regardless, but made sure that the particular employee who was initially unwelcoming did not get the commission of the sale. When I heard about the story, I immediately felt he shouldn’t have spent his money there at all. He may have stopped that employee from making the commission, but he still supported the store. If he still wanted to be petty, maybe let the other employees ring up everything, show that he could pay for it, then walk out and spend his money at another store.
Our players and musicians share a common idea about money that ensures they will always be behind, no matter how much money they have. In 2017, the only people who are to blame are the players and musicians themselves. There are countless examples of what not to do with their money and, thousands of resources to build a strong financial foundation but, we still see the same stories every year.
Malcom X. Bowser is a writer, curator, and founder of Urban X.