Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Need to Get Up, Get Out and Get Somethin'

What would you do if you suddenly came into $150 million dollars?  It's one of those psychological questions that is supposed to reveal the true essence of your character.  For instance, if you're a generous person, you may give most of it away to charity or to friends and family who are in need.  If you're a goal-oriented type of person, then perhaps you might come up with creative ways to use the money in order to achieve a life long dream such as owning your own business or running your own nonprofit.  If you're a responsible person, you'd likely use it to pay off all of your current debts and then place most of it in interest-bearing accounts so that you can live off of the interest for the rest of your life.   And if you're an ambitious person, you may try to double or triple your fortune by investing it in high-risk/high-reward securities on the stock market.  But if you're like the former Philadelphia 76'er Allen Iverson then you wouldn't do any of those things.  You'd simply spend it all on bling, poppin' bottles, big rims and other stereotypical forms of hood-rich ignorance.

36 year-old Iverson was recently ordered by a Georgia court to pay $860,000 to Aydin & Company Jewelers for an excessive amount of bling that he bought back in 2010 but never paid for.  Iverson either ignored the court order or was unable to pay the $860 grand (you can probably guess which one).  As a result, the judge signed another order to garnish Iverson's bank account and all future earnings until the debt is paid.  What makes this story a prime candidate for a depressing "Where Are They Now" TV special is the fact that since he entered the NBA in 1996, Allen Iversen has earned $154,494,445.00 from the league alone - not including the extra money he earned from endorsements.  Which begs the question "how in THE HELL do you blow through $150 Mill???"
According to The Post Game:
Loyal to his friends from a youth spent in Virginia, Iverson traveled with one of the biggest posses in professional sports. Bill Lyon of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the group has as many as 50 people for some Sixers home games. "A.I." took a hair stylist on the road with him and also loved to buy jewelry for himself and his beloved mother, Ann Iverson.
Iverson felt he owed his childhood friends from the old neighborhood because "They made me." The feeling was, without them protecting him from the mean streets, he would have never made it to the NBA.
Apparently they also unmade him.
As much as we could go on about Iverson and his no-longer-makin'-it-rain ass, this problem is actually not unique to Iverson.  In Tom Burrell's book Brainwashed, he notes that as many as 60% of the former NBA players - many of them young Black men - go completely broke within 5 years of leaving the NBA. (See also Kenny Anderson, Antoine Walker, Eddie Curry, Marion Jones and Latrell Spreewell, among others).  This points to a much bigger problem within the Black community when it comes to being financially responsible.  In short, we're not.

Now this problem has been around for as long as there's been a Black community in America, but it's never been as prevalent and as pronounced as it is today.  For lack of a better word, all up until the Civil Rights movement Blacks were "expected" to be poor.  Even in the 70's, 80's and 90's the Black community was, for the most part, still establishing itself financially as a whole during the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement.  But this is a new day.  And in case you haven't been paying attention, there are some very pissed off people running for president right now who feel that the Black community has had more than enough time, "entitlements" and opportunity to come into parity with White America.  Indeed, these candidates have stated in unequivocal terms that they would love nothing more than to take away any and all government programs aimed at helping the Black community to do...well...anything.

The clock is ticking, my friends, and we don't have a lot of time.  We need to "git up (and yes that's spelled with an "i" so that you can feel the urgency of now), git out and git something," damnit!  If there was ever a time to shake this "Brainwashed" mentality of no personal responsibility, it's now.  What's the point of making $150 million dollars and taking all of your boys and your mama to the NBA games if a few years later you, your boys and yo' mama are all right back where you started from without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of?
You need to git up, git out, cut that bullshit out!
Ain't you sick and tired of having to do without?
And before anybody jumps on me for making a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-boostraps argument, let me be clear: we're not talking about pulling up bootstraps here, folks.  We're talking about pulling up a mentality.  Racial prejudice and lack of opportunities are still very real hurdles for may Blacks in this country even in 2012, but none of that has a gotdamn thing to do with buying $860,000 dollars worth of jewelry that you couldn't afford, now does it?

1. How in the hell DO you blow through $150 million?
2. Does the Black community in particular struggle with financial responsibility, and if so why?
3. As a follow up to #3, if you answered "YES" then how does the Black community solve this problem?
4. Would you ever buy $860,000 worth of jewelry?  
5. When we see countless numbers of star athletes like Iverson grow up poor, make millions of dollars, and then return to being poor, doesn't that speak to the falsity of the "American Dream?"  In other words, is the system set up to "weed out" anybody who doesn't already come from a privileged background?
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