Black history month is February and commemorates numerous achievements of African Americans throughout the history of America, including the National Civil Rights Movement, in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired millions of Americans to lend their hands and sometimes their lives to a cause that has given birth to achievements of African Americans today.
While long time African American influential people such as Harriet Tubman and James Baldwin sometimes get rightly overlooked at the heels of the societal altering Civil Rights Movement, African Americans in pop culture and high society have played major roles in bringing African Americans onto a significant public stage.
Whether they are the TV show achievements of Oprah Winfrey, the acting achievements of Will Smith, the legacy (continuing) of music by Jay-Z and Beyonce, or even the modeling imprint left by Tyra Banks, the tributes of African Americans within the mostly white entertainment industry have left black young people especially with the hope that they can succeed.
It remains an unfortunate reminder in the consciousness of the ‘woke’ white person that slavery and segregation has left a vast and pervasive imprint on black communities that has damaged those communities seemingly for generations afterward. Schools within poorer (and often more African American) communities are crumbling, leaving education untenable.
Blight and poverty are widespread. The opportunities for black youth seem far less than for their racial counterparts, if for no other reason than money is flowing away from black communities and into white communities. Role models are few and far between. Even with Barack Obama being elected president, figures in political spheres are tough to find.
With many finding poor educational opportunities and a lack of employment options within the area, many black youth are turning to role models in the entertainment industry as people to emulate to get out of what the youth call “the trap.” These can be rappers, media moguls, actors, musicians, general entertainers or others.
For many black icons thrust into the spotlight, their roles as black role models comes at a time when it is very much needed. Although some districts and towns are focused on building black communities and doing away with the blight, many are not and the black youth of America suffer as a result.
Therein, comes the black celebrity.
The influence of black celebrities is vast within the black communities, in part due to their wealth. Take, for instance, the following celebrities and their net worth:
- Will Smith is one of the film industry’s most highly paid actors. His films routinely gross over $100 million.
- In 2014-2015, Floyd Mayweather, the #1 boxer in the world, was the highest celebrity earner, with $300-$400 million grossed.
- In 1986, at the premiere of her successful and far-reaching “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” she grossed $30 million.
- Together, rapper Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce, a powerful singer, have a net worth of $1 billion.
For all those involved, they are at the top or near the top of their craft. Jay-Z is widely considered one of the best and influential rappers in history, with 11 #1 albums on the Billboard 200, even more than Elvis. Denzel Washington, a dynamite actor and one of the best actors in the business, has two Academy Awards.
Beyonce was just beaten out by Adele for Album of the Year, but there was an outcry after the loss. Tyra Banks became the first African American woman to be featured in 1996 in the covers of the trifecta: GQ, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and the Victoria’s Secret lingerie catalogue.
These are not just numbers and high income levels, but a sign of clear success in the entertainment industry which has for decades been very inhospitable to African Americans, whether that’s in modeling, acting, music, or other segments. It makes sense then that black gossip sites would be popular, as they discuss their favorite stars.
Black gossip sites are popular, whether that’s with the drama between Jay-Z and Beyonce’s family, the latest rumors surrounding Ariana Grande and Big Sean, or the general lawlessness of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Black gossip sites are a segment of celebrity gossip as a whole, which is a $3 billion industry.
Although it may seem tawdry, black gossip sites allow for fans to discuss their favorite stars, which is important as well.