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Sep 08, 2021
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Dyson describes Jay-Z’s change from “blight hustling” to “bright hustling” as a significant shift away from the symbiotic exchange resulting in “increased community social disorder and chaos.” When looked at only within America perhaps this is what it seems to be but elsewhere the impact of “billionaires” can be felt in distinct ways. Dyson highlights Jay-Z’s efforts at legitimate business as important because of how he discouraged blight hustling through both his music and his actions. Identifying Jay-Z as exemplifying the peak of Black progress in Dyson’s view seems to very much be working within the spheres of capitalism and the current social order. The “bright hustling” Jay-Z is applauded for is not a victimless hustle his clothing brands and footwear have been associated with sweatshops in the Global South before. People working in deplorable conditions seem to be easily forgotten when they are not in our own backyard like the casualties of Jay-Z’s “blight hustling” were. In my view, the “bright hustling” Jay-Z is engaging in seems more akin to his own example, when referencing Trump, as spraying the trash with air freshener. In the epilogue entitled “What’s Better Than One Billionaire?” Dyson writes, “the proliferation of black billionaires can’t save us.” He goes on to write that Black billionaires are not the fix for all the injustice and problems faced by the Black community but much of the image of Jay-Z that he pushes forward seems to place Black capitalism at the forefront. The changes Jay-Z made in his own life are significant, his philanthropy likely positively impacts people, and Black progress is important but if the ultimate goal is liberation should those people be applauded the way that they are.


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