Freedom Rider: Henry Louis Gates' $10 Million Scam

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, “the supreme hustler-in-chief of black America,” has sold his white corporate friends on a $10 million scheme to advise the rich on how to end Black poverty. The project claims to be “non-ideological” -- another way of saying that only pro-business ideas will be entertained. Gates is helping his sugar daddies obscure the truth: “Black people are poor because of two things, capitalism and racism.”

Freedom Rider: Henry Louis Gates' $10 Million Scam

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

“We have had this remarkable growth of the black middle and upper middle class and we also have this black underclass that is perpetuating itself.” Henry Louis Gates

The rich use noblesse oblige and public relations efforts to make themselves look good.”

The word “underclass” means poor black people and they are responsible for their own condition. So sayeth white America’s go-to black man, Henry Louis Gates. In fact they are poor because they have no jobs, or low wage jobs, or are churned in and out of the mass incarceration complex and are therefore condemned to future joblessness. Oh yes, and racism diminishes their odds of getting a good education or being hired at all or living where they want regardless of income.  

Those statements are easily provable and anyone with a modicum of common sense can recite the reasons for black poverty with little prompting. Yet Gates, the supreme hustler-in-chief of black America, has a new scheme to use the suffering of others for his own personal gain, courtesy of one of his rich, white benefactors.

Glenn Hutchins is the founder of Silver Lake Partners private equity firm. Silver Lake and other hedge funds help rich people get richer without producing anything of value for anybody else. Hutchins’s $15 million gift brought the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research into existence at Harvard University and Gates is director of the Hutchins Center.

“Poverty wouldn’t exist without the great wealth of institutions and individuals.”

Gates is expert at currying favor with Hutchins and his ilk, as the hack of Sony corporation emails revealed two years ago. He knows how to get their love and their money and those two facts should disqualify him from being taken seriously by the rest of black America. There is no need for a 21st century Booker T. Washington.

The Hutchins Center recently announced a $10 million gift from its benefactor to determine how best to address inequality. The grandiosely named Multidimensional Inequality in the 21st Century: the Project on Race and Cumulative Adversity is supposed to tell otherwise intelligent people how to help the poor. Researcher William Julius Wilson says “Our goal is to provide information to policy makers who want to make good decisions. If they have the information, we can decide how to attack the problem.” Hutchins adds, “We have the opportunity to do non-ideological, evidence-based policy making.”

But the issue of poverty is quite ideological and that is why think tanks and hedge fund guys have no business discussing it. Black people are poor because of two things, capitalism and racism. Their situation will improve only when the twin demons are tamed.

“Systemic change is the answer to ending poverty but Gates and Hutchins have no real interest in doing that.”

It is important to note that poverty wouldn’t exist without the great wealth of institutions and individuals. Harvard University has a $36 billion endowment and that is prima facie proof of large scale theft by generations of powerful people. If it were dissolved and distributed to black people every man, woman and child would have at least $1,000. That might not get people out of poverty but it would be more helpful than studying black people yet again and revealing what is already obvious.

If any class is perpetuating itself the ruling class is the one. They use noblesse oblige and public relations efforts to make themselves look good when they are the actual cause of so much human suffering.

As luck would have it, this dubious initiative was announced as Harvard’s dining hall workers entered the second week of their strike. They earn an average of $33,000 per year and their very wealthy employer wants them to pay more for their health care. Hutchins money would be better used helping these people pay their doctor bills.

But philanthropy can’t ease the suffering caused by capitalist predation any more than nonsensical academic studies can. Systemic change is the answer to ending poverty but Gates and Hutchins have no real interest in doing that. If they did they wouldn’t need to spend a dime.

“Gates has the ear of the corporate media because of his constant disparagements of black people.”

They could use their influence to do some very simple things. They might advocate for the highly vaunted but still inadequate $15 per hour minimum wage. Perhaps they can use their connections to speak up for a guaranteed minimum income or Medicare for all. They might oppose mass incarceration or privatized education through the charter school fraud. They could say that Hutchins and his friends should pay higher taxes. The list of policies that would end poverty are quite easy to identify. No long winded study titles are needed.

Gates again uses black people to improve his own lot in life. He hosts television shows and writes books and has the ear of the corporate media because of his constant disparagements of black people. That is a constant for Henry Louis Gates Inc. Making white people feel comfortable is his modus operandi and it is quite lucrative. It is difficult to know if Gates thinks that there is some mystery as to why an underclass exists or if he already knows but has cynically chosen to get paid as much as he can.

The waning days of the Obama administration are an opportunity to rethink this sad spectacle of looking to black faces in high places to resolve our problems. The high place is usually the source of the problem and elite institutions like Harvard are Exhibit A. As one activist said of the $10 million hoax, “I could do a lot with that money. We don’t need another study.”

Giving people money will end poverty. So obvious and so simple. No wonder this simple logic is ignored.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)


Same old, same old.  Gates

Same old, same old.  Gates follows the tradtion of Jesse, Al, and company of making money off the poor, huddled, black masses.  God forbid if the huddled masses ever did truly progress - Gates and company would have to find real jobs.  Like the hedge fund ilk who underwrite Gates' latest income generator, Gates amasses money w/o producing a damn thing of import.  Look for Barry Droneman and Mrs. Droneman do likewise after January 2017 as they collect checks from every board of directors, foundation, NGO, and related get paid/do nothing organization.

We Are Not Competitive

I don't think "Capitalism and Racism" is why the Black nomenclature is struggling economically in every corner of the globe. White Supremacy is our number one enemy. It permeates throughout the whole Black body politic, even so-called, "radicals", with their gazillion point plans that all have one thing in common: "gimme". This "Terminal Dependency" has been carefully cultivated throughout our history of interaction with White Supremacy, and it has killed our collective drive and determination. Black people have as individuals accomplished everything that there is to accomplish in society. We need to take that individual drive to succeed against all odds, and put it to use on our own behalf to Build the World We Want to See!

We are not taking full advantage of our Objective Relationship to build an Infrastructure of Self-sufficiency, Rooted in the Economy of Our Existence, capable of Ascribing Value to Our Goods, Services and Ideas. This is a real-time strategy that can deliver real-time results, now! I've written extensively about the golden opportunity that is crowd funding (see blog at and what will turn out to be Obama's lasting legacy to Black people -- equity crowd funding.

We have a whole lot of things we can do today that does not require action from people and institutions that we literally have to spend our whole existence trying to influence. Crowdfunding of Strategic Entrepreneurialism is high on that list.