LeBron James’ earned $48 million in 2010. Somewhere, a young black boy is dribbling a basketball with the hopes of someday repeating James’ feat in the NBA. Lil Wayne spent most of 2010 behind bars, yet, he earned $15 million. An aspiring rapper is somewhere writing a rhyme. Beyoncé didn’t release an album in 2010, but she found a way to make $35 million. A young black girl is singing her heart out and dancing in the mirror.
Forbes recently released their list of the richest celebrities under 30 and seven black basketball players (LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony), a rapper (Lil Wayne) and singers (Rihanna, Beyoncé) made the cut.
It’s not a novel concept for blacks to make money within the realms of entertainment. However, where are the black entrepreneurs and inventors under 30?
Sure, Dwight Howard is 25 years old and made $25 million, but Mark Zuckerberg is 26 and worth $4.9 billion. Twenty-seven-year-old Lil Wayne’s earning pales when compared to 28-year-old Naveen Selvadurai’s $80 million that he earned as the founder of Foursquare.
There is a vast potential to earn a lucrative income by developing a product or an online service that can change the way society thinks. But there hasn’t been a black person under 30 who has found a way to present new ideas and capitalize significantly as an online entrepreneur.
Much of the disparity comes from a lack of opportunities. In his book The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that Bill Gates became a master computer programmer because he had access to a personal computer in 1969 – a time when millions of Americans still didn’t have TVs in their homes.
Beyond giving black kids a computer to surf the Internet, they should be taught web building skills, entrepreneurship, and how to compete in rigorous hack-a-thons before the age of 10. Many public school education methods are outdated and are causing black children to fall behind and lack the skills they need when they enter the real world.
The success of each celebrity who made Forbes‘ list as the Richest Under 30 is commendable. But our black kids must be exposed to and believe in more than writing a rhyme or shooting a jump shot . –amir shaw