One Black Man's Perspective On The 'Billionaire Space Race'
The nauseating hubris of the ultra-wealthy has broken free of the confines of earth.
Buying a private island used to symbolize having attained incomparable wealth.
But that is so last century.
Now, thanks to capitalists like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos, what is the ultimate status symbol of the ultra-wealthy?
Flying into space - or joining as the media has so ludicrously dubbed "the billionaire space race."
On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, Bezos became the second billionaire to travel in his own self-funded rocket and capsule into space - approximately 62 miles above the earth to be exact - in order to experience three minutes of weightlessness.
Watching all the rapturous mainstream media coverage of both Richard Branson and now Bezos' private space flights made this Black man want to puke. And no, it wasn't from envy. It was due to all the pure, unadulterated, rich, white man hubris on display.
After his fifteen-minute space junket, Bezos declared it was "the best day ever!" Then, a CNN reporter gushed that Bezos' successful ride on his phallic-like rocket to be the "essence of the American dream!"
Watching the jubilant Bezos and crew popping champagne awash in a sea of self-congratulation, I couldn't help but wonder exactly whose "American Dream" was the reporter referring to?
It wasn't this Black man's American Dream who, as he is writing this, has recently suffered a devastating house fire and is now seeking a new, permanent residence for himself and his family.
It isn't the American Dream for millions of my fellow African Americans who are struggling against two pandemics: being disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic AND the continual fight against the virulent racism and systemic oppression flowing throughout the United States like an open sewer.
I wonder if you ask Amazon's underpaid and overworked warehouse and fulfillment workers if their boss' ego-stroking space flight is the ultimate realization of their American Dream.
Granted, I can't be 100 percent certain, but I'm sure they would tell you their American Dream would include a safe workplace where they are paid a living wage while not being dehumanized and treated as literal cogs in a machine.
A workplace where they don't have to resort to urinating in bottles or putting their pregnancies at increased risk in order for Amazon Prime members to get their toilet paper and dog food delivered the next day.
Across the pond in the United Kingdom, Richard Branson beat fellow billionaire Bezos into space by several days aboard the supersonic jet partially funded by his company, Virgin Galactic. It's interesting how he found the funds to attain his orbital joyride while asking his Virgin Atlantic employees to take eight weeks unpaid leave during the onset of the global pandemic last year.
Gotta' have priorities right?
Bezos, Branson, and Musk attempt to justify their masturbatory space cadet fantasies by assuring us their efforts to privatize space travel will open up the cosmos to all, ensuring the future of generations to come.
I call bullshit. Already, 600 people have purchased Virgin Galactic tickets between $200,000 to $250,000 a pop. After Branson's successful space flight, plans are to reopen ticket sales at an even higher price point.
After the success of his own space flight, Bezos claims his Blue Origin company has sold over 100 million tickets. I'm sure those tickets cost a tad more than catching a red-eye flight from New York to Los Angeles.
Trust, these private space flights are to benefit the wealthy as they seek a path to escape our planet plundered, ravaged, and decimated by the rapacious capitalist systems funding their wealth.
Instead of using a portion of their vast fortunes to help solve the problems either created and/or exacerbated by their corporate shenanigans, the wealthy have set their greedy sights on space.
Elon Musk and his ilk are obsessing over traveling to Mars and beyond not due to some noble, altruistic vision for humanity's future, but because they view it as their ultimate escape plan. These 21st century robber barons know they are mainly responsible for screwing the planet and they want off - and we rank and file are not invited.
I know for certain Black people most definitely are off the invite list. Of course, we have more immediate concerns, including trying not to become the next social media hashtag due to state-sanctioned murder by the police while trying to just live our Black lives.
But hey, it's as Gil Scott-Heron said in his prophetic and iconic spoken-word poem: "Whitey On The Moon."