Don’t worry #AllLivesMatter supporters, Floyd “Money” Mayweather is in your corner.
The retired boxing star told Tha Boxing Voice recently that his sport taught him that people who back #blacklivesmatters should just learn to “follow directions” and “follow order.”
Mayweather also added, “Don’t give nobody a hard time.”
Was that the money talking? Mayweather has earned an estimated $700 million during his boxing career. He’s spending his time now as a full-fledged boxing promoter and still occupies a prominent space among black celebrities.
But should he be?
Black America is racing toward an existential identity crisis, and shock waves like Mayweather saying #AllLivesMatter or even Lil Wayne standing by his statement that racism does not exist are just the beginning.
In some ways, we’ve built these actors, athletes and singers up as pseudo saviors – as a decadent veil for some of our own shrinking financial prospects. Success and high level of personal wealth many black celebrities have achieved can pit them against the realities of black America’s economic despair.
Mayweather’s money, in this case, seems blinding.
In my view, too many African-Americans have increasingly come to base their view of the current economic state of black America on the reflections of Jay Z’s purchase of Tidal for 56 million dollars, rather than the millions of black American families that as a whole lost by some reports half of their wealth over the last several years.
For a generation of blacks, celebrity exceptionalism and its results has been confused with the economic progress, or the lack thereof, that has been achieved by the black race as a whole since the days of the Civil Rights Movement. This approach has come to create an escape for far too many, one where vision boards on bedroom walls filled with quotes of overcoming odds from wealthy African-American celebrities proves more important than their very own real economic struggles of the moment.
Mayweather, now among the richest celebrities in the world, absolutely did it his way and deserves the profits from his boxing matches. But it cannot be understated that he also did it commercializing a black male image outside of boxing that was far from the order-following type he now prescribes. He in many ways set a model of doing everything but following orders.
Money May, as he likes to be called, sold black rebellion, sold hip-hop, and in many ways, he packaged and sold the core experiences of those black males most vulnerable and in need of the protection of #blacklivesmatter.
Now, Mayweather must be forced to understand what he owes black America for using so much of its identity in his quest to make money. If he chooses not to understand, he must be held to answer to the consequence of doing so without grasping the need for Black Lives Matter as a movement by his staunchest supporters: black people.
T.I. called Mayweather’s comments “socially irresponsible, inconsiderate, and insensitive.” Black Twitter let him have it, and rightfully so.
Mayweather tells us to “follow orders” and “don’t give nobody a hard time.”
What he fails to understand is that Philando Castile, Eric Garner and countless others were following the law, and they each still ended up dead after routine police encounters. But how could Mayweather know this? He is twenty years or more removed from the struggles of poverty experienced by most black Americans today.
While the middle class black family toils with a worth of $1,700.00 when you take the family car out of their worth, Mayweather is constantly buying himself some several hundred thousand dollar gifts and filming them for others to fawn over. Yet black America looks at him and sees a potential version of themselves, where they too can shine over other blacks. They will soon learn his world is not theirs, and he should not be held out as their spokesperson.
Hopefully, these new statements on “All Lives Matter” will show black America how far that shine really goes for Money May and lead them to the first steps of an awakening.
Antonio Moore, an attorney based in Los Angeles, is one of the producers of the Emmy-nominated documentary Freeway: Crack in the System. He has contributed pieces to The Grio, Huffington Post, and Inequality.org on the topics of race, mass incarceration and economics. Subscribe to his YouTube channel @Tonetalks