- Billionaire Jeff Bezos launched into space on Tuesday, the anniversary of the 1969 moon landing.
- Gil Scott-Heron, the revolutionary poet and soul artist, released “Whitey on the Moon” in 1970.
- The poem resurfaced on social media in response to the billionaire space race.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Gil Scott-Heron’s poem “Whitey on the Moon” has been used in the past to critique the space race. And the 1970 poem resurfaced this week in response to the recent influx of billionaires launching into the lower regions of space.
On the anniversary of the 1969 moon landing on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos, former Amazon CEO, founder of space company Blue Origin, and wealthiest man in the world, spent a total of 10 minutes and 10 seconds in space alongside his brother, an 18-year-old, and an 82-year-old passenger, according to The Associated Press.
Billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, took to the sky nine days prior with two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci.
Scott-Heron, best known for his song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” released “Whitey on the Moon” in 1970 following the 1969 moon landing.
The People’s City Council in Los Angeles posted a video of the artist, who referred to himself as a “bluesologist,” reciting the poem on Tuesday in response to Bezos and Branson’s ventures into space. The tweet went viral, receiving more than 5,600 likes, and it was shared more than 2,400 times.
The 2-minute spoken-word piece references the financial struggles faced by Scott-Heron’s family, including their inability to afford medical bills for his sister as described in the lines:
A rat done bit my sister Nell
(With whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell
(And whitey’s on the moon)
I can’t pay no doctor bills
(But whitey’s on the moon)
Ten years from now I’ll be payin’ still
(While whitey’s on the moon)
The poet also mentions his struggle to pay for basic necessities of survival such as food and rent amid rising prices, saying taxes are taking his “whole damn check.”
The piece became increasingly relevant to the modern-day, as social media users pointed out the ethical concerns of billionaires focusing their money on spaceflights – rather than helping those in need on earth.
“My first thought with all these space exploration by billionaires,” one user tweeted in response to the viral video.