Forbes Magazine recently released its list of the wealthiest Black Americans.Oprah Winfrey was number one, which isn't a surprise. Oprah has obtained a level of power and wealth that makes the breath leave your body. (Did Oprah actually cause sit-ins at KFC? Who does a sit-in over chicken?) She is well ahead the second person on the list, Tiger Woods, whose wealth is measured at roughly $600 million. It's nice that Forbes has created a list for black Americans, since it gives insight into African American achievements without having them dwarfed by the massive wealth of white Americans. Let's remember that other Americans had a 400 year head start, as black families were not allowed to pass wealth onto their children for many centuries.
Some say that your present tells the story of your past. Where you are is not always as important as the path you took to get there, which provides insights into the paths you will travel in the future. The list is interesting for a few other reasons, which I will state below:
1) Oprah is actually not all that rich, relatively speaking that is. If you compare Oprah's $2.7 Billion to the leader of the overall list of billionaires, Bill Gates, you will find that his $40 Billion dollar stash is far greater than Oprah's. In fact, Bill Gates could spend over $10 million dollars a day for the next 10 years and still have $10 Billion dollars more than Oprah. Another way to conceptualize the massive wealth difference is to note that Bill Gates usually earns more in INTEREST each year than Oprah has in her entire fortune. This is not to say that Oprah's achievements are not noteworthy. In fact, she is a more accomplished human being than Gates. These facts simply serve as a glowing reminder that African Americans have been left out of the wealth building pool for hundreds of years, and that these disparities show themselves in modern day economic inequalities. Some see Gates as a self-made Billionaire, but the truth is that if he were black, chances are that he would not have had a prominent lawyer for a father and a mother who served on powerful corporate boards, all of which opened doors for him that are not typically opened for black youth. Oprah Winfrey was far more self-made than Gates.