by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Former Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent may be on his way to prison for killing one of his best friends. Jerry Brown Jr., who also played for the Cowboys, had the severe misfortune of being the passenger in the car that Brent was driving after drinking enough alcohol to take down a horse.
According to Toxicologist Justin Schwane, Brent likely took in 17 drinks on the night that he killed his friend.
Brent’s blood alcohol level was 0.189, more than twice the legal limit of .08 in the state of Texas. Brent is being charged with intoxication manslaughter. If convicted, he might be in prison for up to 20 years.
The legal fight is now one regarding whether or not Brent was seriously drunk. Brent’s attorneys are arguing that his size is the reason that the alcohol likely had no effect. Of course, all of this is in contradiction to the fact that it has been confirmed that his client was drunk off his butt when the accident took place. I’m not buying it.
But while I am OK with being hard on Brent, I feel sorry for him. Also, I am writing about him as a Financial Juneteenth lesson because there are numerous economic and wealth-building implications of this particular incident.
You see, the culture you choose to adopt has a direct impact on your ability to accumulate and protect your wealth. If you choose a culture that embraces hard work, education, discipline, investment and accountability, you are likely going to be a person who accumulates and preserves your financial assets.
But if you embrace a culture built on “poppin bottles” at the club, getting sloppy drunk, chaotic consumerism, throwing money in the air and irresponsible choices, then whatever wealth you have a chance to acquire is going to go up in smoke. Right before his death, even Jerry Brown openly speculated on whether or not the “fast life” was good for his future. Obviously, it was not.
The talents of both Brent and Brown were multi-million dollar assets for the Dallas Cowboys and for their families. They could have translated this opportunity as a chance to build a collection of valuable financial assets that they could pass onto their children. But after Brent’s unfortunate choices, these assets no longer have any value to the team or to Brown’s baby girl. Beyond that, the ability of these two young brothers to extract and accumulate wealth from their God-given natural resource has been destroyed because of poor decisions.
We’d be lying if we didn’t admit that this happens to far too many young black men, who are heavily influenced by the reckless nature of hip-hop culture and the influence it has had on the African American community. This is not an assault on all of hip-hop, but instead a clarion call for us to be thoughtful of what kind of mindset is being thrust onto young black boys before they enter the world of men.
Every time a brother is shot or arrested in the club, we should remember that he could just as easily have been spending that time in the library. The fact that this statement seems so far-fetched, nerdy and “unrealistic” is a symptom of the toxic nature of the culture that some of us have some to embrace. It was only my desire to break away from my friends in college and spend a crazy amount of time in my books that helped me to rise above the chaos that destroyed the lives of most of my best friends from back in the day.
So, here’s the point I want to make: A fool and his money almost always part ways. If you’re the multi-million dollar baller who throws money in the air, hits the liquor and weed whenever he can, and doesn’t desire to gain a semblance of financial intelligence, then you will probably end up broke. I could give you more money than NASA and a man who has chosen to embrace the thinking of a Jackass will surely find a way to throw away everything that is valuable in his life.
So never, for one second, believe that culture has nothing to do with wealth-building. My PhD dissertation topic was on Financial Psychology and I can tell you that culture and mindset are EVERYTHING. Encourage your children to embrace a culture that is productive and intelligent, not one that will put them in a prison cell or the morgue. May Jerry Brown rest in peace and may other young brothers learn the mistakes of Josh Brown. If we look at this unfortunate incident in the proper context, we may be able to save the next generation.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series, “The 8 Things Every Black Man Must Know in Order to Survive and Be Successful.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.