By Gregory Moore
The other night while recouperating from hanging out at a PGA tournament on Sunday, I was talking with a friend and we were jus flipping channels in our respective homes.
As we each came to what we wanted to watch, my friend came upon a show called “NEWBOS: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass”, hosted by Lee Hawkins on CNBC.
The show profiled several successful African Americans in the sports and entertainment world but one that distinctly caught the attention of my friend was that of Bryan “Baby” Williams of Cash Money Records. What caught her attention was the conversation of $500k worth of jewelry in the man’s mouth.
Williams called it being “hood rich”.
But what does “hood rich” mean and why would anyone want to portray themselves in what I think is a very derogatory term?
According to the Urban dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) there are 21 entries for the word. The best definition I could come up with that I think everyone can understand is the following: “a person with extravagent luxuries that they clearly cannot afford and they live in the hood or have a hood lifestyle.”
Okay I don’t know about that definition of what hood rich is but I can definitely tell you I think it is utterly stupid and ignorant for anyone to want to have that type of dentistry in their mouth and have the audacity to think it is perfectly okay in this day and age.
Is hip hop about flaunting wealth? Sure it is but you want to know what true wealth really is, especially for Black America? Take a look at Sean Carter, Sean Combs, Russell Simmons ,Robert Johnson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Will Smith if you’re a Black man.
If you’re a Black woman look at Oprah Winfrey, Debra Lee, Angela Bassett, Jada Pinkett Smith and other successful Black women who are high profile and rich.
But it having wealth doesn’t necessarily mean you have to flaunt things with the extravagances. Having financial wealth should be about perpetuating financial success for the generations behind you in your immediate family. It should be about being able to live a comfortable lifestyle long after your fifteen minutes of fame is gone in the limelight but still being able to turn that spotlight on because you have financial successes that turns that fifteen minutes into a string of snippets with the lights on you.
When I see photos of Williams and his brother, I don’t see that type of success.
I see exactly what the definition is in about ten years: living outside their means.
Maybe it’s just me and I’m a stick in the mud but I would rather have that $500k sitting somewhere making me $1.2 million in profits rather than having it in my mouth. Having a flashy watch for me would be probably a moderately priced Phillipe Patek or Rolex to go along with my Armitron that I wear every day.
For me maybe having a BMW 7 series and a Ferrari to be with my Dodge Neon that was completely redone to factory specs is too simple. Or maybe the fact that I would be perfectly content in a house that is around 4,000 square feet and is valued at around $300k or so is perfectly fine for me.
In my eyes my wealth wouldn’t necessarily be in the home, the cars, the clothes and jewelry; it would be in maybe the properties that I invested in and the businesses that either I am a principle in or have a huge stake in as a partner. That may be having a couple of high end restaurants that are highly successful. My definition of being wealthy would being able to have the ability to make sure that my children could get the best possible education, both public and private. My definition would be having the ability to help my immediate family continue to succeed and that includes being in a position to help my parents and others. Finally my definition of ‘flaunting’ wealth would be having the ability to help the community that I live in; whether that be job creation, philanthropy, community service or other works.
Not boozing it up every night at some night club, walking around with a diamond encrusted Rolex and looking like the village idiot.
For me it wouldn’t be (and it isn’t) about the flash and cash insomuch as it is about what are you doing to better your life on the positive and staying true to yourself in the process.
When I look I guys like Williams, I shake my head because I just don’t think they get it yet when I look at Carter on the cover of one of the magazines I read on the regular or hear about guys like Combs doing mega deals, I see that there is hope for regular guys like myself.
Being a “newbo” shouldn’t be about the flaunting of wealth because on the real, there are actually many successful millionaires in the African American community who are not this flashy and they come from all spectrums of the world.
Maybe CNBC wanted to try and flex a little muscle and put a new spin on a particular community but having Williams and his brother in that piece only added to a very unwelcomed stereotype of how Blacks handle money.
Maybe the show was to help Spike Lee’s mess.
Whatever the reason all I know is that if Williams and the rest of Cash Money Records (and those of that thought process) believe that the glittering teeth and all that is rich, I want no part of their world.
Just because you may portray a lifestyle in the video shouldn’t be your lifestyle in real life.
But then again for some I guess that is the way they roll.