No Roc Nation Brunch? Black Capitalism will KILL us!
So the annual Roc Nation brunch, held in Los Angeles, didn’t happen this year. Such a shame, I told his majesty, Sir Hov, I already bought my Alexander McQueen tailored suit. Maybe next year, am I right? Hopefully there won’t be one next year or the year after that. You see, while on the surface this brunch served to illustrate the major strides of success in the name of “black excellence” and how far black people have come to really establish and create an event which they can call their own, I can’t help but draw comparisons this annual brunch has to the old plutocratic and aristocratic dress up parties held centuries ago where the old villainous looking men would twirl their moustaches and say something like “Haw! Haw! Haw! Gone with the poor!” But instead of saying “gone with the poor” they’re saying “Yeeeeerp! If you broke just say that!” I hope with this comparison you’re beginning to see the point I’m starting to make: the Roc Nation brunch highlights everything wrong with the upper class of black wealth and bourgeoisie society.
Contradictions of High Society
The reasons as to why the brunch didn’t happen this year have yet to be confirmed. Maybe the ear-deafening controversies surrounding Sean “P Diddy” Combs would attract far too much bad press around his majesty of black “radical” capital, Jay-Z. Who knows. The super star couple in Jay-Z and Beyonce went to Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy show instead, anyway. Guess my invitation got lost in the mail, huh, Clive. The only thing the absence of the Roc Nation brunch showcased to me is how, in western black society, we’re praising and idolizing our own “heroes” for nothing except being rich and completely unreachable. They dress in clothes which cost more than some of our rent’s five times over and eat food a lot of us cannot pronounce; while it may come across as a bitter rant, this is anything but that — eat what you like. However, a majority of these stars, Jay-Z most noticeably, love exuding this image of “black radicalism” but will partake in the same events and actions actual radicals would completely detest. The Roc Nation brunch symbolizes not black excellence but instead black conservatism and capitalism. You know, two of the things that have kept black people socially subservient for generations.
It’s no secret, as well as the fact that it has be documented countless of times, that when a successful black person makes it into the industry — an industry which they do not own or have any control over — they seldom give back to their communities in the ways that both truly matter and provide longevity, but instead, will piecemeal their success in marginal portions whilst going on countless press runs mildly denouncing the system which keeps them oppressed in the first place. Carter G. Woodson, author of “The Mis-Education Of The Negro” talks about this in his book where black people will commonly abandon their own without establishing a progressive and operative system of education and support within their communities in the hopes of assimilating themselves within white society. And they do this because upon graduating from white academic institutions, they are later installed with the mindset that the lack of education from their native homes will further stagnant both them and their future. The new age variation that takes place within like Roc Nation and celebrities of the similar light will confuse representation with progression and liberation. Just so you know, saying you’re a militant black man standing against the grain doesn’t, you know, make you that. They never practice what they preach but they are first to scream the errors of capitalism whilst simultaneously exclusively benefiting from said system.
Furthermore, there is no shadow in knowing that Roc Nation has an infamously known track record of having an extremely toxic and venomous work environment where the only “plus” side of it is just being associated with Roc Nation and Jay-Z. Unfortunately, those plus’ start and end there as many employees have gone to state their reviews on places like Glassdoor commenting about extraneous hours without commensurate pay, poor management, poor organization, high turnover rate, and employee negligence — just to name a few. This isn’t something you have to search for as it really is on the first page of Roc Nation’s reviews on the site. This Roc Nation brunch did an amazing job with confusing “black capitalism and gatekeeping” with “black progressiveness”. The push of the American Dream that was tailor made and designed to work for those if and only if you sacrificed your humanity, decency, and codes to your community. Alternatively put, the capitalist ideologies work for you and ONLY you, Mr. Carter and Roc Nation Co.
I’m not black I’m OJ…. Okay?
There’s this very weird notion that the addition and removal of the word “black” from anything that breeds controversy changes the narrative and frees you from any sort of criticism. When Idirs Elba went on that weird rant about not wanting to be limited in the box of “black actors” he was surprised when those remarks were labeled as “stupid”. You see, Mr. Elba, as much as you’d like to think race should not matter, it most definitely does. When money, power, and class are involved, race comes tailing along like the little brother that wants to hang out with the older brother and his friends. I mean, you say race doesn’t matter but I’ve never heard anyone say “The first white actor” to do xyz or just “white actor” and that’s because they created the box to begin with, so of course they can’t fit in the box they MADE for us. To then make such statements saying:
It is not only disrespectful towards those who do not have the same fortune as you to even have the platform to state such things, but it’s like you’re saying “I mean, yeah it sucks, but we eventually need to get over it.” We can’t get over it because we’re not doing anything as a strong collective to FIX it, Idris. That’s the point. So, why is it okay for people to want to stray away from saying “first black this” and “first black that” but will openly say “black excellence”? Why is this also not within the parameters of eliminating race from the equation? Because then there is no illusion of “positive progression” to be had. Where black actor/black capitalist = bad, but black excellence/black wealth = good. In the words of this new age TikTok vocabulary, “the math ain’t mathing.” And speaking of more contradictions, capitalism is inherently rooted both in racism and exploitation, so for Jay-Z to say “they try to label us as capitalist” and try to make it comparable to other derogatory racial slurs, I just have to scratch my head because:
- You put yourself in that box
- Capitalism predates you
- You’re still a black capitalist… I mean, just “capitalist” (Sorry, Idris, I’ll try and make this far more inclusive for us all, okay?)
From the Castle, way up high, I am your voice
This Roc Nation brunch is not about black excellence. It’s not about highlighting the strides of black culture. It’s not about black progression or solidarity. It’s not about anything black except classism and elitism amongst a higher society that powers greater than us allow us to operate it. Jay-Z is one of 22 concurrent black billionaires. You do not speak for us. You haven’t spoken for us in a very long time. Your whole verse on “God Did” is something that sounded cool and alluring but in fact further glamorizes your own self-mythologizing ego and arrogance, and the Roc Nation brunch serves as the instrument as to where you exercise that. No one at that brunch speaks for us because if they did then they would not be there. And I’d like to think the brunch didn’t happen because of a collective self-aware body. This isn’t to say that any and all that have ever attended — or may continue to attend — the Roc Nation brunch are bad seeds in the soil of black capitalism, but they definitely are not people you should be idolizing in the hopes of setting a strong and positive example for black economics, not just in the west, but worldwide. In conclusion, I’d like to end on a quote from Carter G. Woodson’s aforementioned book:
“The impatient, ‘highly educated’ Negroes, therefore, say that since under the present system of capitalism the Negro has no chance to toil upward in the economic sphere, the only hope for bettering his condition in this respect is through socialism, the overthrow of the present economic regime, and the inauguration of popular control of resources and agencies which are now being operated for personal gain.”
~ Woodson G. Carter, The Mis-Education Of The Negro, pp. 43