HKS Authors

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Abstract

In America, there’s a significant kind of public insistence that one’s “freedom” is fundamentally tied to one’s wealth. Much of the country views America through an aspirational and transformative lens, a colorblind and bias-free utopia, wherein wealth conveys equality and acts as a panacea for social and racial ills. Once an individual achieves massive financial success, or so the message goes, he or she will “transcend” the scourge of economic and racial inequality, truly becoming “free.” Working in parallel with this reverence for this colorblind version of the “American Dream” is the belief that economic privilege mandates patriotic gratitude. Across industries and disciplines, Americans are told to love their nation uncritically, be thankful that they are exceptional enough to live in a country that allows citizens the opportunity to reach astronomical heights of economic prosperity. For the nation’s black citizens, there’s often an additional racialized presumption lurking under the surface of these concepts: the notion that black success and wealth demands public silence on systemic issues of inequality and oppression.

Citation

Wright Rigueur, Leah. "For Black Athletes, Wealth Doesn’t Equal Freedom." PBS NewsHour, 10/18/2017.