Throughout his book, Dyson talks about the “blight hustling” and “bright hustling” and the way bright hustling is seen as legitimate despite both being forms of work. The majority of Dyson’s book concentrates on Jay-Z’s come up, and the implications this has on Black culture. Although Dyson does critique the idea of making it as a billionaire, the tone of his book glorifies money-making as a way out of the systems that keep POC out. On page 138, he says “[w]ealth isn’t just the aspirational goal of the desperately poor, but speaks to a will to overcome, to resist, to rise from the back of the bus to hobnob with billionaires, to even believe that one might become a billionaire oneself someday.” According to Dyson, Jay-Z “reversed the terms” that Black people are often stuck in. But how effective is it rely on becoming a billionaire as the thing that will “get you out”, when in fact it’s the root of the issues that keep POC stuck.
It is difficult to reconcile someone’s ascendance to billionaire status as representative of “advancing” a certain group. For many people, being able to survive is what’s most important. Thus, for me, it was problematic to focus Jay-Z’s accomplishments on his monetary value. In a society where workers are exploited for capital gain, the focus should not be on how much money a certain Black person is making as the marker for success.