Why Boyce Watkins had to be Neutralized
This is Irami Osei-Frimpong’s opinion. I am the producer of Breaking Brown — Live. I do not speak for Yvette Carnell. Yvette speaks herself, very well, every Monday and Wednesday night at 9pm EST on her youtube channel.
Monday’s Breaking Brown-Live Yvette skewered Boyce Watkins.
He sells the notion that black people’s consumer habits, i.e., we buy too many Jordans and weaves, are the reason why black people are struggling in the US.
Monday’s show brought on an expert, Dr. Jared Ball of Morgan St. University, to squash that notion.
Yvette then addressed Boyce’s project. This is important because the project is bigger than Boyce. This is about anti-politics masquerading as black capitalism. Or anti-politics masquerading as religion. Or on the Breakfast Club or a Shonda Rhimes show, anti-Politics masquerading as entertainment.
To be clear, black capitalism, black religion, or black entertainment must be infused with black politics, or it’s anti-politics because black problems are political problems.
I’m not a big fan of taking out other black men, but Boyce has been making money off of a quality of black capitalism that’s anti-political. He is telling black people to quit their jobs and start businesses, or that they can become millionaires on Ameritrade day-trading. And then shaming them for “staying on the plantation” for keeping their job or being “financially illiterate” if they don’t try to make their score on Ameritrade.
The median black family has a net-worth of $1700, set against the median white family with a net worth of $116,000 dollars.
I’m not against entrepreneurship or day-trading, but I think positing that as the way out of the legacy of black slavery and domestic terrorism is bad faith. We have political problems that call for political solutions. Boyce preaches black capitalism, but he couldn’t pay his employees, which means that he wasn’t really a capitalist, he was just a guy who was good at getting free labor out of his friends. That’s fine.
Richard Spencer is an entrepreneur. He started a online magazine The Alternative Right from a headquarters owned by his mother, an heiress to cotton farms in Louisiana.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Spencer built the Alt Right with slave money. Sit with that for a second. When I say white generational wealth is built on black suffering that is still in the system, as with black generational poverty, that’s what I mean.
I suspect the descendants of those slaves don’t have excess investment capital to start and market media outlets.
That’s American capitalism to its anti-black core. Until we rewrite the rules to get investment capital into black hands while also increasing black worker power, capitalism will always be anti-black. Re-writing those rules is a political task, and that’s the political work that black people who are about their business should be doing.
So Black people, keep your job. What little black money there is doesn’t come from entrepreneurs. If you are a black bus driver who is happily married to a black nurse, you are winning. If you are a black parole officer who is married to a black waiter, you are winning. Don’t let anyone shame you into quitting your job.
Keep your job, and change the politics until we have a political climate that’s good for black businesses, or until you have saved the uncommitted investment capital where you can take the loss.
I was talking with a friend who saw the segment and grew up in Africa, and she said Boyce reminded her of the revivalist preachers who would blow into villages offering cures to desperate people.
But right now, I’m reading Jaspers’ General Psychopathy, and in Part II he starts drawing a distinction between real connections and meaningful connections. And I’m starting to believe that what Boyce was doing was meaningful, even if it wasn’t real. But he abused the meaning of hope in black people’s lives for his own gain.
Lastly, I want to say a few words about anti-politics. Every economic message is political, so it’s not the case that Boyce does economics and Yvette does politics. Rather, Boyce’s economic preaching is embedded within an anti-political project. When he says that it’s the Jordans and the weaves keeping black people poor, that’s part of a political project to keep black people blaming themselves for their situation, rather than the legacy of generational poverty that is the direct result of US policies. Shoes do not account for the generational wealth gap that’s been racialized in America.
Politics is hard. It depends on making yourself vulnerable to other people. It entails trusting other people and the unpredictability of their action. It takes material resources, like meeting spaces and childcare, was well as wisdom, but it’s the only way forward for black people. Boyce, on the other hand, was telling people all they need is to fill out LLC paperwork and start a business.
We had to neutralize Boyce for the same reason you have to push drug dealers out of your neighborhoods. There is a multi-million dollar industry that’s designed to keep black people from organizing the black politics we deserve, and black people, it includes a lot of people who look like us, including Oprah, Shonda Rhimes, and Barack Obama, and any black person who won’t utter the word reparations.
(By the way, Obama was wrong in ’04. There is a black America and a white America. One is owed reparations for generations of domestic terrorism, and the other is just going to have to accept that.)
I wanted to take out Boyce because the programs are mutually exclusive. He was offering a desperate people a doughnut, and we are offering them a spinach salad.
Our way is harder. Filling out paperwork for business is easy. Organizing local, county, and state wide politics is harder. Learning about the government’s role in black people’s lives is harder. Depending on the political rationality of a damaged people is hard. But honestly, Black People, do you think you have more leverage organizing against the Democratic Party or individually against Goldman Sachs?
The Democratic Party can be made to support reparations if we play hardball, where playing hardball employs a variety of strategies. Goldman Sachs, however, will run you over and not blink, and then hire spin doctors to convince you that it’s because you didn’t pray the right way or use your vision board wisely.