Love Tesla but Hate Future

So, I find it funny that when we want something, even if we don’t need it, we can come up with excuses for days about why we should get it anyway. Even if what you want goes against your morals and/or your monetary contributions indirectly fund political parties, politicians, or wars that go against your belief. 

 I recently discovered that Elon Musk, the co-founder, and CEO of Tesla, is the father to ten children by three different women. I also was informed a while back that Elon Musk is from South Africa, and his family benefited from the apartheid system. Elon Musk has even trolled Bernie Sanders on Twitter, writing, “I keep forgetting your alive,” because of their disagreement regarding taxing billionaires. 

Then there is the mess with Twitter. I don’t even know where to start with that. Does Elon own Twitter or not? 

Many of you do not care about anyone’s political views or personal lives. Still, I think it’s important to know the political opinions, character, and personal viewpoints of billionaires and millionaires. Knowing how much money they contribute to politicians and political parties can influence what laws and policies are passed. What Elon Musk says and does could be minor to most and will not interfere with their decision to buy a car that will make Elon richer and more powerful. However, in my opinion, Elon’s political views, how his family benefited from the apartheid, and the number of children he has with different women should cause most people, but more specifically Black people, to think twice about buying a Tesla or Tesla stocks. I find it ironic that you could know all this about a person and will still make excuses about why it’s no big deal to buy a Tesla or own Tesla stocks. Tesla cars are selling like hotcakes, and the company is doing great financially. So much so that some media outlets have reported that Elon Musk is the richest man on earth.

 I do understand why so many people want to buy a Tesla. With its sleek design, no gas required, and advanced technology…the car can drive itself!! I can honestly see why so many people would want one. And before I go any further, let’s be clear… I’m not hating on anyone who can afford one because if I wanted a Tesla, I could buy one too. Now back to the matter at hand, the issue I have with people buying Teslas, specifically Black people, is how we could overlook everything about Elon Musk because we want the hottest car or stock right now. Knowing that your money is going into this man’s pocket (I’m not sure what percentage), I find it quite interesting that we could overlook everything about him because we want the latest and shiniest toy.

Now, I know I can be materialistic at times. I know I am guilty of contributing to people or companies that give their money to politicians or people who support White Supremacy and other ideologies that are detrimental to me and others worldwide. But at the same, I can’t keep track of knowing the roots or backstory of everything I buy, and I wouldn’t expect you to either.   

However, I know at the end of the day, many things we spend our hard-earned money on could be traced to companies and people who made their startup money either illegally, from chattel slavery, child labor, stealing, war, exploitation, poor people, etc. So, could I be guilty of indirectly supporting racism or other isms? Absolutely. The difference is when I know for sure I’m financially contributing to a company or person who uses the money to promote beliefs that will harm me and others on a large scale, I usually withdraw my support immediately. 

Is it easy? Absolutely not? Do I slip up occasionally? Yes. Nobody is perfect, but the difference is I don’t make excuses for someone or a business that clearly has no issue with their opposing viewpoints and is not showing any signs of changing. 

If you know anything about rich people, you know they have several options to avoid paying taxes or reduce the amount of taxes they pay.  One well-known thing wealthy people and companies often do for tax write-offs is giving a large sum of their money to non-profit organizations. They also like to influence our politicians or political parties with cash under the table. Now let that sink in. You’re indirectly giving a small portion of your money to people who may not like you or have different beliefs than you because you want something materialistic. Something that slowly loses value over time. Some people say that’s like selling your soul to the devil. A little extreme? Maybe. If you knew where some of your money was going, maybe not.   

Now you may ask yourself, Jonathan, what the hell does this have to do with Hip-Hop artist Future? Glad you asked. A few months ago, I wrote a blog about how Black people tend to be hardest on other Black people. A conversation that comes up every now and then is how Future has all these baby mothers and is a dead-beat father. Many people believe Future should be canceled because he is an irresponsible Black father. Before I go on, let’s be clear, I’m not defending Future if the allegations are true, but hear me out. Why is it, on the one hand, OK to cancel Future because he’s an irresponsible father, but on the other hand, it’s OK for us to overlook everything about Elon Musk because Tesla is a great car? I haven’t ever heard Future openly support controversial political figures or genuinely benefit from a system of racism.

Furthermore, Future is not even one of the top five richest people in this country….shit, he might not even be on the top 100 list. However, Elon Musk is one of the richest people in the world. I’ve never heard any Black person start a “Cancel Elon Musk” movement. 

 It seems like Black people seem to have this mentality of constantly harshly criticizing each other and lowering our standards for non-Black people while expecting every Black person to be damn near perfect. Sometimes, I think the standards Black people set for other Black people are so high. If we are not careful, we’ll eventually cancel all of us out. But when it comes to people like Elon Musk, we have a million excuses about why we can’t do anything to change who he is and what he does. Anything to justify why we really need a Tesla. In all fairness, you may have a point. Maybe nothing we do or say will make him change who he is or what he believes. However, is it too much to ask us to become more strategic about spending our money outside our community? Instead of us easily setting the trend to cancel Future, is it possible that we could just be more encouraging to Future so he can do the right thing? Or hold Elon Musk and others like him just as accountable as many of you hold Future?  

Now I know what else some of you are thinking: Tesla will continue to sell many cars even if Black people don’t buy them. Right? Do you really believe that as much money as Black people spend collectively, Tesla, Elon Musk, or other large companies similar to Tesla won’t notice? Or, if we are going to continue spending our money outside of our community, shouldn’t Black people collectively demand certain people or companies invest their money into HBCUs, failing school systems, STEM courses in urban school districts, scholarships for underprivileged students, prison abolishment, or on research to reduce the maternal mortality rate among Black women, etc. Did you ever imagine that? We are more powerful than we think!! If we all thought more about where we spent our money, things would slowly change for us. 

Think about the Montgomery Bus boycott. Think about how they all worked together and how much they sacrificed because they collectively knew how much power they had. And they really needed public transportation!! I’m asking you to sacrifice things you can get at other places or on items that are not a necessity. I’m asking for us to sacrifice things we can live without or explore what other options are out there when it comes to something you want. 

At the end of the day, we need to work towards having more influence on where our money indirectly goes when it is spent outside of our community. It won’t be the end all and be all of our problems, but it’ll be a great start. We cannot continue to hold our own down by having unrealistic expectations for them while providing passes to others who exceed us in every category. We’re supporting people and companies who are way more well connected than those in our community you want to cancel (not support).

No social justice without economic justice 

Jonathan Travis

August 3, 2022

Published by jmajor09

Let’s see…Who am I? A Black man…A Black man in America. A Black man in America who has it all but still doesn’t have fundamental human rights and is viewed as less than. I am a Black man in America who always has to prove I have just as much or more than most people in this world. I am a Black man who is supposed to assimilate into society’s norms so I can be accepted by the masses. For the most part, the only issue is, I don’t care about being accepted by the standards America or the masses say I should have. Do you know the long history of America??? How America became the powerful country it is? This place has no right to set standards for me. I want to think outside of the box as much as possible regarding being a Black man from and in America. I know I’m highly blessed, but you will never hear me say I love a place I can not be comfortable in and wave a flag with so much blood of its Native people on it. (FYI When I say Native, I’m also referring to Black people who are American decedents slaves) What else? I was educated at one of the finest institutions of higher learning in this country…Morehouse College (only all-male HBCU in the USofA). Then I went to Rutgers University and received another piece of paper (degree). BTW Did you know Rutgers was established from money involving the slave trade? I’ll probably get another piece of paper (degree) at some point in my life, just not sure what and when I never liked school, but I do like how letters look after my last name every time I get a degree. What else? I was raised by two hard-working parents who stressed the importance of education and giving back to my people when I can. My parents migrated to the “Northern Promise Land” from the Jim Crow south when they were young children. My parents never allowed my race to be an excuse for why I can’t excel in life because so many Black people before them excelled with less. So much so, all three of their children have a Master’s degree from notable Universities. However, my parents would remind me I’m Black, and the rules are quite different for me. One of the biggest lessons my parents taught my sisters and me indirectly was you can be unapologetically Black and successful. We don’t need to change for anyone, you don’t need to impress anyone, and if we don’t like something, we should speak up! Speaking of speaking up…I love acting on the side. Acting takes me to another world and temporarily takes me away from the everyday craziness I deal with. Theater also led me to write my first play in 2019. The play was called Anytown USofA. The play was primarily about how institutional racism, colorism, and police brutality all interconnect with one another. I’ve never really been a writer outside of a classroom, but I am slowly learning writing, thinking, and acting will be the primary way I will educate the world and liberate Black people as much as I can while I’m still on this earth!!

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