Wokeness Brokeness

Y’all haters corny with that living in poverty mess.

Okay, so last week I celebrated Black History Month by doing the blackest thing I could think of–going h.a.m. on the price of Beyonce concert tickets. We love to get incredulous about how much things cost. Doesn’t matter how much money we have; it’s the principle! You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a Safeway watching the 90 year-old head of the usher board telling the manager he ought to be ashamed of himself for how much he’s charging for these Nilla wafers.


In response to my piece about her concert ticket prices, Beyonce also did the blackest thing she could think of: continuing to get her damn paper. She was so unbothered by me! And that’s a beautiful thing.


We, as a people, have a complicated relationship with money. It’s not surprising. Our ancestors were treated as property. That can fuck a people up.

Sister Bertha is not fussing about Nilla Wafers; she’s talking about dignity. She’s asking for justice. And a raincheck.

Maybe it’s controversial–apparently it’s controversial–but lemme tell you: there’s nothing wrong with making money.


I don’t know why this is controversial. I thought this was still a capitalist country (until the Bernie revolution next January or whatever is supposed to happen. Side note: should I buy my socialism starter kit now or will it be shipped directly to me? Is buying it wrong? Will it only be available for barter? What about bitcoin? Can I download it on Tidal? What. Is. Tidal?! So many questions.)


Despite the economic principles this country was founded on people are coming for Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar like the IRS.

And just like Sally Field at the end of Steel Magnolias, I want to know why!

People keep saying that they reject “Formation” or the Super Bowl performance because it seems calculated. First of all, Beyoncé doesn’t care what you think. How many times does she have to tell you? Beyoncé is Regina George; stop trying to make your opinion happen. It’s not going to happen.

Like why are your trying to come for her and her money? She’s not here for you. She’s not even here. You’re at the wrong house. This is Solange’s house.


Second of all, what kind of common core arithmetic are you doing where you think the most calculated thing the biggest pop star in the world can do is release a black Power anthem?

Beyoncé’s like “Hm. I’d like some more money. Should I release ‘Single Ladies II’? Nah, I’ll remind people that Black Lives Matter. [insert maniacal laugh].” She would have to be a worse business person than Donald Trump to think that the most money is in that banana stand.

Like, she knows how this is done. We all do. Rihanna was like “Gotta pay the weed man, so I guess I’ll release a song” and then came out with a song that was literally called Gimme your fucking money. Like, bitch just pulled her Hummer up to the ATM and ripped the whole thing out the wall. And Rihanna stans were just like “Yaaaaaas! Slay! My PIN is 2233! When is ANTI coming out?!”


Four years ago Adele sold 8 million albums by adding music to the last text fight you and your ex had after breaking up. Then she came back this year and sold another 6 million albums by musicalizing a 3 am “Sup?” Snapcat. Yo, I love Adele because I have ears and eyes but that is calculated.

Making money requires calculation. If a person has money, they’ve done some calculating. Unless they’re Donald Trump in which case they fell backwards through a rip in the moral fabric of the universe, flailing and spitting all the way.

Truth is, your fave has money and they’ve put thought into how to get it. And that doesn’t make them less woke. Bernie is a rich person. Kendrick is a rich person. DeRay is running for mayor; that takes money. Your fave is a rich person. Unless your fave is Kanye. Kanye is poor.


LOL Kanye is so poor.

At least I think you can make money and be woke. Girl, you know I don’t know.


You know how the Social Security administration sends out your lifetime earnings and estimated SSI payments every couple of years? Well I got mine and it was just this GIF


I have already put in my pre-emptive application to be a senior greeter at Walmart because this bitch is never retiring. Shady Pines doesn’t give a damn how many blog hits I got back in the day.

I work in non-profit and I write plays, two fields that also have a strange relationship with money. I’ll tell you this: I am really good at my job and I am really qualified for my job but I don’t make a lot of money. And that’s not a read on my job (although I did wait to post this until after my review; chile who you playing?) It’s just the way things work.

When you do “good” work or “do it because you love it” people think you don’t need to get paid for it. If I was this good at my job and also worked at Google, I’d have stacks on stacks on stacks. I’m not complaining; I’m just expressing my philosophy. People matter most, relationships matter, spiritual practice matters, but so does paying your rent. I got all kinds of things to pay for. I’m going to have a kid one day. You think that’s cheap? I’m gay as hell; I gotta buy a kid. You thought Nilla wafers were expensive. Child.


I love what I do, which is why I do what I do. I used to work for banks foreclosing on mortgages held by young couples in over their heads and widows and divorcees. Like, you’ve seen The Big Short? I was the sequel. Bigger, shorter. There’s a dick joke there but I don’t want to reach for it.

Hold for applause.

I got paid doing that job but I didn’t love it. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid to do something you don’t love. But there’s also nothing wrong with making money doing something that you believe in. Dr. King paid his bills, too, okay?


Maybe that’s a cynical thought but so is the idea that the only way artists should make money is by putting out facile, manufactured commercial hits.

You like the message but don’t want to pay for it? Cool. Do you. I’ll be over here with my big wide brimmed black hat and my empty bank account blasting TPAB and being reminded that I, too, might one day afford the American Dream.


Coming in June 2016: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE, a world premiere play by R. Eric Thomas
Commissioned by Simpatico Theatre Project and directed by Jarrod Markman
Find tickets and information: http://bit.ly/TimeJune




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