Monday, January 30, 2023 Jan 30, 2023
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Publications

SELF-HELP FOR THE CYNICAL

By Cecil Sharp |

BOOKS It may not be the biggest self-help book of all time, but it has the most shocking title: How to Be a Rich Nigger, written by RUFUS SHAW in 1979, is now in its sixth printing through Shaw’s own publishing company. Its premise, one the author stands by more than a decade later, is simple: “If you’re doing the same thing a WASP male is doing to be successful, you won’t make it.”

Shaw, 38, says that Rich Nigger (the first of a “black economic trilogy” that included Hustling: The Art of Black Financial Survival and Street Economics) was “the first book written on how to be something if you’re black or disenfranchised.” Shaw uses the N-word to connote “unfair treatment that crosses racial barriers,” and believes that women, Jews, and other ethnic minorities also can learn from the book.

A Lincoln High graduate who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SMU before forging a career in black print and broadcast journalism in Dallas, Shaw exhorts his readers to “have realistic objectives and accept the fact that you ain’t gonna be certain things in life no matter what you do, or how you try to assume the ways of white folks.”

Shaw urges black men to attend and teach at black colleges; select wives wisely (“one of the biggest economic decisions you’ll make is who you’ll marry, particularly if you own a business because she’ll get half if you divorce’1); and socialize with the white business sector: “Learn how to play golf. There ain’t many domino or touch football games going on at their business meetings.”