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President Barack Obama has always had a keen appreciation for the far-reaching influence pop culture has on Americans and that was never more apparent than during his commencement address at Howard University.
Speaking to graduates on Saturday, the president informed them that pop star Beyoncé “runs the world.”
For the record, the recording artist has an approximate net worth of $450 million, according to Forbes. Throw husband Jay-Z and his approximate net worth of $650 million into the mix, and the power couple is worth over a billion dollars combined.
Obama, who arguably owes his election as president to pop culture’s warm embrace, was commenting on the progress of race relations in the country, saying the United States is “a better place today” than when he graduated from Columbia University more than 30 years ago.
“In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant — at least not certain of them,” he told graduates. “There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges.”
And while Obama stuck to his guns on perceived racial discrimination, telling the audience more still needs to be done, he proceeded to undermine that very point.
“Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn’t even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback,” Obama said. “Today, former [Chicago] Bull Michael Jordan isn’t just the greatest basketball player of all time — he owns the team.”
“When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground,” he added. ” Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world.”
Which may explain why Beyoncé and Jay-Z are frequent visitors to the White House.
“We’re no longer only entertainers, we’re producers, studio executives,” Obama continued. “No longer small business owners — we’re CEOs, we’re mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States.”
Not bad for a country where racism has “a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on,” as Obama said just last year.
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