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Dr. Dre and his $35 million to USC

Pastor Rasheed Baaith

Pastor Rasheed Baaith

Dr. Dre and his $35 million to USC

By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith

“Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.”      (Psalm – 41:1)

Recently Dr. Dre of NWA fame announced he was endowing the University of Southern California (USC) with $35 million. No matter what kind of thinking ones does, that is a lot of money. Especially for a college that already has three and one half billion dollars in its endowment fund.

Thirty-Five million dollars is more than all of our historically Black colleges have in their endowments funds as a group. It is as Dr. Walter Kimbrough, the President of Dillard College said, “a transformational gift of money.” He added that 35 million dollars could impact Black lives in ways that would never happen on the campus of USC.  And he’s correct.

USC is presently in the midst of the largest endowment campaign in history and it no doubt will be very successful. While it can use Dr. Dre’s gift, it does not need it, not with three and a half billion dollars already on hand. When Reggie Bush was at USC, he was worth 100 million dollars to the school.  They didn’t give him any of that 100 million; they kept it all.

I’m not vilifying Dr. Dre nor am I denying he can do whatever he wants to with his money, but I am asking the question of why, if he wanted to give that kind of money to a college, why not to a college of people who have supported his career from the moment it began?  What was it about USC that compelled him to look beyond the needs of his own people?

Compton is about 12 miles from the campus of USC.  There are places in Compton where the average yearly income is $12,000.00 a year. Isn’t Dr. Dre from Compton?  At Dillard University, 76 percent of the students come from low income families, the national average norm for other colleges is 35 percent and the unemployment rate for African Americans is double that of whites at 13.2 percent.  Surely 35 million dollars could help alleviate one or two of these issues.

Sometimes we become awfully short sighted and our memory gets selective when we become famous and wealthy. I remember when the Jackson 5 exploded, thinking what the Jackson family could have done for their hometown of Gary, Indiana if they had made the city their business hub. People would have gone to Mars to do business with the Jacksons.

Most importantly, this is not a question of race; it is a question of meeting the greatest need. While USC does have a number of community engagement projects such as the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, the Joint Education Project and the USC School for Early Childhood Development, none of the programs have the fiscal desperation of a number of HSBCs or of a city like Compton.

Dr. Dre made his money by pack-aging and exporting black culture around the world, everybody else got into him because we were into him first.  Those earphones he sells get bought by other people because they saw his own people wearing them first.  He, whether he wants to admit it or not, must admit that he owes a great deal to the Black community, including who he has now become.

Don’t get it twisted, loving your own does not mean you hate or dismiss anyone else.  It just means in the words of an unknown speaker of wisdom, that we “lift as we climb.”

We don’t perpetuate privilege in a citadel of wealth where there are some of us but not many of us.  We lift ourselves and others as we climb.

Think about it.


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