Jay-Z recently had an incoherent rant on Twitter Spaces that ‘Eat The Rich’ and being called a capitalist is racist. This is a good reason to keep identifying him as a capitalist and to keep trying to ‘eat’ him. People who talk much about not being intimidated are actually intimidated most of the time. The capitalist class is afraid and so are the Black capitalist class, the gatekeepers, that they use to hold down our race. But why are Black capitalists like Jay-Z afraid?
The oppressions of the Black race and that of the poor masses intersect, so much so that we are almost the poorest race by standard of living. People like Jay-Z are used to keeping us ignorant about that intersection, especially through their music, by telling us lies that we can all become billionaires with drug money. The attempt is always to ensure that the resistance to race and class based oppression does not connect. Anti-racism needs socialism and socialism needs anti-racism. Because oppression on the basis of race and class is connected, the resistance to and struggles against oppression on the basis of race and class must be connected too. But that’s not all.
“All these lies that America told us our whole life and then when we start getting it, they try to lock us out of it…They start inventing words like ‘capitalist.’ We’ve been called ‘n—ers’ and ‘monkeys’ and s–t. I don’t care what words y’all come up with. Y’all gotta come with stronger words…feel ashamed to be successful… Y’all locked us out. Y’all created a system that, you know, doesn’t include us. We said fine. We went our alternate route. We created this music”, he said.
First off, Jay-Z did not create anything. Jay-Z wrote songs. He did not need to invent mixers or recorders to make the claim that he created music, but neither a new music genre nor new music software can be credited to Jay-Z. He is just another billionaire trying to appropriate the inventiveness of Black and working class people across generations. If Jay-Z created anything, it’s companies where it is said that janitorial and receptionist staff are cut from their positions.
Jay-Z didn’t only try to portray the fact that he’s being called a capitalist as racist, but he also tries to paint the music executive’s road to becoming a billionaire as a form of resistance or activism for inclusiveness. But the personal struggle to be included in the oppressors’ gang is not activism. The mainstream music industry that Jay-Z is a part of is a huge instrument in the hands of exploitative and destructive capitalist media.
Jay-Z once took a plea deal for the stabbing of Lance “Un” Rivera – the CEO and co-founder of Untertainment with Notorious B.I.G. Jay-Z is not a good-hearted philanthropist fighting for Black rights, and neither is Beyonce. Beyonce’s sweatshop workers making the Ivy Park collection for Topshop were only making 64 cents an hour in 2016. How can that amount empower any Sri Lankan woman oppressed by imperialism? Meanwhile, Beyonce makes billions from capitalizing on her identity as a Black woman.
This over-centralization of the access to make one’s voice heard in writing or in other arts like music, is a form of oppression on its own. We do not only need to decentralize, socialize and automate production and reproduction to get the new Africa and new world we hope to build, we also have to decentralize, socialize and automate the production of knowledge, opinions, information, and data.
“We did our thing, you know, we hustle, we f—ing killed ourselves to get to this space. And, you know, now it’s like, you know, you know, ‘Eat the rich,’ and, man, we’re not stopping” he continued. This exposes how easy it is to use identity spaces to entrench exploitation. Black spaces! Women spaces! LGBTQ spaces! Children’s spaces! A friend on Twitter said, “Many identities are inherently political but no identity is inherently radical. Radical politics are something we gain through intention and practice through action, not something we are automatically granted by virtue of our personal identity.” Equitable redistribution is the solution to inequality.
The elites have captured identity [reductionism] to further divide the oppressed. They have manipulated identity politics to launder genuine causes for their rotten images. Black entrepreneurship has been a cliché since the days of Malcolm X, but it has not saved us. The Black capitalists only oppress us to preserve themselves.
Eat the Rich is not literal. It is a hyperbolic phrase invented after the French Revolution, after which quality food for the poor became scarce. I’m struggling to cut off animal meat for reasons of veganism, and so human meat is out for me! But luckily Eat the Rich is a metaphor meant to highlight the extremes of lavish wealth and fatal hunger that exist in our present society. It is to expose the fact that the poor are hungry because the rich exist and if there was equitable distribution of the wealth of our society, no one would have to go hungry because there are enough resources to feed everyone.
Rather than redistribute wealth, the ruling class would rather use our identities to pitch us against one another and pick one of us once in a while to keep the gate by giving them enough wealth to give us hope that we could also become extremely wealthy someday. This is why anti-racism needs socialism as much as socialism needs anti-racism. We’re going to Eat the Rich – including Jay-Z. All capitalists deserve to live their life in the fear of a revolution starting from the most oppressed race of the world – including Black capitalists like Jay-Z and Beyonce.