5.22.2013

Dillard President Asks Dr. Dre Why He Gave $35 Million to USC and Not a Black College

(Dr. Dre and Dillard University president Walter M. Kimbrough)

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

(Source: YourBlackWorld.net) Dr. Dre is one of the most successful entertainers in history, earning hundreds of millions of dollars by making great music. Much of this music moves because he has been able to successfully package urban/black culture, selling it to audiences around the world. One of the questions some have about those who readily use their blackness for profit is the following: What are you giving back to those who gave you so much?

It’s hard to know exactly what Dr. Dre is doing for the black community, but we all know where he made his greatest gift. Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Lovine recently announced a whopping $70 million dollar donation to USC to create a new degree. The program is one that pulls together liberal arts, graphic arts, business, music and technology. Dr. Dre’s donation is the largest ever given by any African American in history, and oddly enough, the money is going into the hands of rich white people.

As I prepared to give the commencement address at Simmons College, a growing HBCU in Kentucky with a very rich history, I heard a story about a group of ex-slaves who pooled their money to buy four acres of land so they could educate future generations. Without sacrifices like these, the school would not be giving so much to the community today. The school’s extraordinary president, Dr. Kevin Cosby, has not taken a paycheck for his work for the last eight years and readily speaks of how the school is located in one of the poorest districts in America. He sees his contribution as a chance to lift up the community around him, rather than simply milk the community’s resources.

If I could transplant Dr. Cosby’s brain into Dr. Dre’s body, black America would be changed forever. Also, had those ex-slaves been naive enough to give all of their money to the big white university down the street, the impact of their contribution would be minimal at best. One of the reasons that black Americans struggle economically is because we’ve been locked out of economic opportunities, while massive institutions like USC hoard the wealth to protect their own (take a look at the very low percentage of African Americans they hire or admit as students). Simultaneously, when we do have access to the resources necessary to begin our building process, we don’t feel inclined to support those who look like us. That’s the difference between the black and the Jewish communities: They teach their children to generously target their resources to protect them against oppression.

Some may argue that Dr. Dre can do whatever he wants with his money, and this point is valid: No one has the right to tell any of us what to do – a child has no obligation to care about his mother, a husband has no real obligation to provide for his wife, the list goes on and on. But the truth is that if you choose not to care about your community, then don’t expect your community to care about you. [READ MORE]