I recently watched Nick Broomfield’s documentary ‘Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie and Tupac’. It left me pretty shook up.
It made me question my purpose at Create Equity, campaigning for a racially equitable redistribution of wealth in the creative industries. The documentary forced me to ask to what end, if the social structures and economic systems we inhabit undermine our very humanity… if we live our lives according to myths around money and power.
Suge Knight, Tupac and Biggie – three Black men – each had talent most of us can only dream of and more money than anyone could reasonably spend in a lifetime. And yet, two of them ended up dead (at only 24 and 25) and the other (Suge Knight) in prison.
From watching the documentary, none of them could be described as inherently bad. But each was shaped, negatively, by a culture of toxic masculinity, violence and power. Despite their wealth, they couldn’t escape their conditioning and its hold on them. Their treatment of women was particularly shocking.
The documentary shows only too clearly how racial inequities, as experienced by these men, can lead to a distorted self-perception and give rise to inhumane behaviours. Behaviours which were exacerbated by wealth. Their life stories are an extreme example of how money can never be an end in itself for us, as Black people.
So, to what end do I continue to campaign for equitable wealth redistribution? Equity can be an end in itself; in need of no justification. But once achieved, what we Black communities choose to do with it, how we let it shape our humanity (or inhumanity), is ultimately down to us.
It is with this realisation that, more than a week after watching the documentary, I am now able to sleep a little less disturbed by what I have seen.
NB. We have used the term Black. We recognise the diversity of individual identities and lived experiences, and understand that Black is an imperfect term that does not fully capture the racial, cultural and ethnic identities of people that experience structural and systematic inequality.