Money, Power, Respect Intro

By admin November 25, 2022

Written By Steven Pargett, Header Image by Jessica Page, Photoshoot by Bino

An article from WARTIME ISSUE No. 4

Money and the Power

It feels so good to have it.  To know it’s yours.  It feels like you’re closer to the image of the men you grew up admiring.  Feels like you conquered a piece of the world and you’re rewarded for what you did. It’s status.  It’s comfort.  It’s safety.  It’s power.  It’s attraction.  It’s a dream come true.  An American Dream.

(I mean…even the BIBLE says that Heaven had streets paved with Gold.)

The guys I grew up admiring always had money.  More than me anyway.  My oldest brother had a candy-painted blue Impala and he parked it in front of my mom’s house and it sat there for years when he was locked up.  It was regal and had the switches in the trunk.  Looked like somebody who you should respect lived there.  It looked like hidden wealth but on full display.  The kind you might not understand or ask questions about – but you nod your head at the person who walks out the front door, or you look out for them if anything is going on… or you minded your business.  Either way, you respected it.

We construct our lives with these symbols of power, of access, of the type of wealth that we can stretch out and grab.  

Get Rich or Die Trying.

But why?

To attract women.  To impress other men.  To have respect.  To convince people that we have power.

But do we really? 

So many of my friends are out here with rollies on their wrist, with nice apartments or just closed on their first home, partying on yachts in Miami – or turning up in Vegas – or on the scene in LA – taking up space at important brands in executive roles.  It feels like power on social media.  It’s to be respected for sure. Scroll through the timeline any day and it looks like another one made it out.

Some of us have the privilege to see a path towards comfort, but for most of our community, they’re just fucked.  You’re just supposed to be on the bottom of society and work a shit job (if you can get one) because you’re Black. Your family is gonna be in and out of jail because they’re just more likely to get stopped.  All of that is supposed to be normal to us.

We hide in these pockets of safety that we can feel free because we aren’t actually.

When I’m watching a Supreme Court judge getting confirmed I’m just a spectator.  When I’m watching that same supreme court take away our human rights, I’m still just a spectator.

Access to clean drinking water just went out in Jackson, Mississippi the same way that it did in Flint, Michigan and I’m still just a spectator.

I know weed is legal in Colorado, but if I smoke with my friends in Atlanta I might get jammed.

I’m tuned into Earn Your Leisure to figure out how to make sound investments with the little bread I do have, but if a law that threatened my friends and family was passed, what would I do with all my money?   I would try to navigate life in a way to avoid that law.  

The prominence and obsession with social status feels more important than our political status. I think this is a challenge that many of us struggle with.

The next 90 pages (or the articles that you read on this blog over the following weeks) are full of perspective to challenge you – to discuss with your family and your peers. 

What are Money, Power, and Respect?  Who really has it? Who are our real enemies? What is a vision of communities that balances these themes and ideas and grounds us in a vision for the future?  We have dispatches from BMB Hubs around the country giving their perspective of what issues they’re facing.  We go to St. Louis to see the work they are doing to unite street tribes.  We look at the “Defund the Police” campaign to see what it’s actually accomplished.  We talk about Respect and what it means to Black men as we navigate relationships, fatherhood, and day-to-day life navigating this crooked system and so much more.

We all need to be challenged about the way that we think of these pillars in our lives.  We need to develop a healthy relationship with money and consumption, we need the hunger to build political power that means something.  We need to challenge the notions of what deserves our respect.

Let’s get into it.