The Black One Percent (of One Percent )

So the One Percent of One Percent Who Own US Politics Include Some Black Faces. Is This A Victory For Us All?

Bruce A. Dixon

One percent of the one percent, about 30,000 individuals account for 42% of all the contributions to political candidates in the US. In most other countries these would be bribes, but in this, the freest country in the world, wealthy have baked their right to bribe into our election law. They’ve even purchased a Supreme Court ruling – Citizens United – which says their unfettered right to bribe is guaranteed in the Constitution.

While America’s corporate elite is disproportionately white, nobody I know considers this a victory for white people. So why then, do many African descended Americans insist on celebrating black members of this one percent of one percent as persons worthy of respect and admiration on the part of the rest of us?

Former NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a case in point. With business interests all over the country, Magic dropped a quarter million dollar campaign donation on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and flew to Chicago to get his picture taken with the mayor on the eve of the elction. Magic’s payback was an $80 million dollar contract managing privatized custodial services in Chicago’s Public Schools, under which he pays those custodial employees, many of them African American far, far less than they once made as direct employees of the public school system.

This doesn’t make Johnson unique. It makes him one of the gang, a very privileged gang indeed. A recent study by the Sunlight Foundation revealed that corporations get about $760 back from federal, state and local governments for every buck they donate to politicians of the two capitalist parties. The nation’s top 200 campaign donors gave $5.8 billion to political campaigns, and got back $4.4 trillion – that’s trillion with a T in return between 2007 and 2012. In perspective, during the same period 50 million Americans on social security got only $4.3 trillion. It’s all perfectly legal, and in the eyes of some of our black pundit class, admirable, when the recipients are folks like Magic Johnson.

Junior Bridgman, another former NBA superstar owns hundreds of Wendys and Applebees franchises, and pays millions every year to lobby state and federal government to keep the wages of his workers nice and low, seven bucks and change for the fast food sector and two dollars and change for the restaurants. Is he an inspiration to young blacks or a scourge on black families?

How should we regard the black faces among the one percent of one percent? Are they smart and savvy business people, examples of real black power? Or are they well connected, despicable thieves stealing from the rest of us?

It’s a question we should ask ourselves more often.

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