Black respectability politics is back with a vengeance swallowing the next generation.
To many he blew the doors off the house with said speech upon accepting a humanitarian award, applauded for taking the opportunity to make meaningful public commentary on something as impactful and profound as the devolving state of continued police brutality on minority communities, particularly the black community. Being a member of the black community, doing it as well as the Harvard graduation speech also going viral online earlier this summer, graduation speeches earning standing ovations, national recognition, and for good reason. This of course brought out the haters who thought he should be fired from his gig on Grey’s Anatomy for being anti-white, circulating a petition to that effect; basis of the petition seeming to be, had a white person said the same things about African Americans they would have been globally chastised and expediently Fed- Xed to the unemployment line, relegated to answering want ads, virtually black listed and rightly so. Especially considering the fickle nature of his profession and that one little wrong move can derail your career in Hollywood, being deemed difficult to work with or one big movie flop, one lack luster performance, suddenly no one wants you. In this case citing precedent on the Grey’s set, who could forget of course, Isiah Washington’s very public firing and removal of character Preston Burke after Washington made a homophobic slur to fellow cast member, at the time, TR Knight referring to his as faggot. Orientation of Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy creator’s politics aside, never mind what Williams said about race and police while being ‘anti-white and anti-law enforcement’ was 99% true and needed to be said; what he said wasn’t a slur of any kind rather a frank, blistering assessment of the way things still are, an example of the work still needing to be done, how far we still have to go. The Young Turks Cenk Uygur rightly commenting, if you can’t give a speech like that, in times like these where race has made progress but military policing and an almost total lack of being viewed as a human being still persists in the 21st century, during acceptance of a humanitarian award for your contributions to bettering the human condition for everyone, not just ‘your people,’ when can you say it; when will you ever be able to say it and have people actually listen? Which has in turn spawned counter argument after counter argument about why Williams was criticized, ‘white privilege,’ ludicrous safe spaces we want created in every corner of society, far surpassing the college campus or the coddling of young minds; plenty of older ones want to be coddled too. The underpinning of the Salon article reference used in the title, to calling him a timely voice speaking to both his community of color, and the dominated white community of success, achievement and meaningful accomplishment accepted and respected by society at large. Few however alighting on what the true firestorm should have been about: the redundant, unhelpful indictment of his own community taking on a new face; the hypocritical indictment of white people willing, trying to help after seeing with their own eyes videos describing, detailing what minorities have said for years, having had the scales taken form their eyes, so to speak, finally beginning to think what if that was me, my child, my sister, my brother, aunt, uncle, friend. And he repays them with that speech, after years of begging, pleading, imploring whites to find their conscience, see blacks, other ethnicities as human beings, as equals, not animals, chattel, see and acknowledge the injustices visited upon blacks by police, employers, those who should be their fellow citizens, they start to and he rewards their effort with that speech. Concurrently bashing blacks finally trying to achieve, succeed, get ahead by way of getting educated, getting a job, striving for a career involving something other than the corner selling body or substances, when the narrative rebuke has been against either criminality or complacency. Rome wasn’t built in a day, inroads on civil rights weren’t accomplished with one march, one sit in, but here’s Jesse Williams spurning offered help in the form of poetry, giving spoken word poetry legitimacy and at the same time detracting from its art form via his choice content. Fueling an environment where Justin Timberlake can’t even pay the man a complement on twitter without being branded an exploiter if not a racist, a part of the problem not the solution by virtue of nothing other than his skin color, which he has no control over, and his chosen profession; music clearly crisscrossing styles not simply black music. Note no one criticized the boy bands of the 90’s, early 2000’s, had droves of people from all races screaming for them; no one doubting Justin can sing, has a beautiful voice worthy of the notoriety and awards received, a profession Williams is prolific in too by the way, just a different genre. Huge question remaining, as huge as thousands, if not millions, think his BET speech was, why was he able to blow the doors off with that, how was he able to bring down the house, in a good way, with that and no one notice what he was really saying, how his words would be interpreted on both sides of the race debate, throughout the many facets of black, minority cultures working to improve their circumstances, move things forward; Williams arguably moving it backwards several steps? How is it that someone did not stand up from the BET awards audience and tell him just as ‘eloquently’ where he could stick his thoughts on the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way to wear ‘black identity,’ the ‘right’ way and the ‘wrong’ way to represent ‘black’ identity,’ represent the African in African American, grabbing that award trophy away and breaking it over his obviously too thick, fame inflated head or at his feet, whichever is non-lethal while imparting the same powerful lesson. There isn’t just one way to encapsulate a culture, an ethnicity, a community, and if you have to start your commentary, your work telling whomever it is you’re endeavoring to help to look more like this, don’t do that and start doing this, you are precisely the wrong person to be receiving a humanitarian award, the wrong person to be speaking to, or on behalf of, ethnicity issues, regardless of your skin color, if your skin color matches those you’re trying to reach, make understood to the rest of the world.
Granted I know nothing about the conservative mentioned in the Salon.com article whose subtitle I made my piece’s title from, and judging by the articles content I have no wish to get to know them, their work. But the problem with Jesse Williams’ speech isn’t that I have heard spoken word poetry done better, though I have; my skinny, white high school writing teacher read Sekou Sundiata’s Space to classes year after year with more great oratory befitting a single, underrepresented ethnicity, in literature or elsewhere, than any aspect of Mr. Williams’ delivery that night. Nor that there is a palpable anxiety around discomfort in our supposedly increasingly coddled culture of safe spaces; though I have no idea if that’s the core reason their named conservative targeted him or attacked comedy ‘because it was no longer fitting into the mold of almost totally white and acceptable excluding all previously fringe portions of society.’ And the reason I don’t care about either 2 items is because there is so much more to care about; the bright red bullseye problem with what Jesse Williams said in his BET acceptance speech is it’s the same old repackaging of black respectability politics that never really went away in the first place. He starts out great using jarring words reminiscent of a rap video/ political speech denouncing supposed progress, how far we’ve come: “Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich.” Going off the rails as it were when he began eating his own, as the saying goes, yammering about working for money and what we, blacks choose to do with it: “Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies.” Clever words you have to hear twice just to understand, but putting name brand clothing on your body, by your own choice, is not the same as slave brands placed on those brought over here from Africa, those born here into a system of brutality and forced servitude, and to say so is to cheapen those centuries of prayers. More to today’s point, how dare he denigrate people who after being told for decades, by people just like him come before, if you want things in life work for them, no one is going to hand them to you, especially as a black person accounting for the bad history between blacks and whites in this country, when they do work hard, achieve and choose to spend their money on the same nice clothes, expensive sneakers, nice cars, nice things others possess, priding one’s self on looking well-kept even in distinctly styled baggy clothes. Question Mr. Williams, as a point of order, who were you wearing that night, who was your silk imitation, perhaps even real, shirt from, what about your pants, shoes; did you come in a suit coat too, then it probably came from a known designer of business formal men’s wear clothing, Joseph A. banks and the like if not an exclusive designer to the stars, known names rattled off for making women’s talked about gorgeous, cutting edge fashion gowns—oops. Forget brands like FUBU shorted from For Us By Us, what Michael Jordan did for Nike and the Air Jordan line of well, everything, fragrances, clones, accessories put out by Snoop Dog/Snoop Lion, Puff Daddy Puffy/P. Diddy/ Diddy—oh that. “There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.” Yet isn’t the last part exactly what you’re saying Jesse Williams, you and all your respectability politics cohorts of decades past; if we, the black people, black community didn’t act like animals, act like apes, they wouldn’t call us that, if we weren’t always out committing felonies, engaging in criminality behaving like thugs they would stop calling, assuming us criminals and thugs? Ta-Nehisi Coats, known black writer, said it in his Atlantic piece on police, using the beloved example of Tamir Rice come to epitomize the need to stop police brutality, police assassinations: “I can’t see the image of Tamir Rice aimlessly kicking snow outside the Cleveland projects and think of how little we invest in occupying the minds of children. A bored Tamir Rice decided to occupy his time with a airsoft gun. He was killed,” but at lease he said it in the context of what society needs to do to stop this, where to put the police, where to use other resources, not beating up on the back community merely in a different way than police do, not in entrenching himself in respectability politics. There were plenty of blacks who commented of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin, if they had respected their elders and kept their hands to themselves they would still be alive like we’re living in a twisted Mayberry; to little pushback, heads nodding in silent agreement. Forgoing the agreement that, no matter if they were the worst hoodlums in the world they shouldn’t have been murdered for what they did, brushing aside what they didn’t do; I guess they acted a kind of free that was out of place too? “Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little sidenote. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.” Please clarify what you mean, and if you mean, as alluded to in the introduction, all these newly awakened whites coming to their senses, if you mean people who decry the cop killing in Dallas, in Baton Rouge, who have come to the conclusion violence impedes the long term goals of blacks whether it’s the Black Lives matter movement or others, people just trying to get by, make it through their daily lives, who don’t want those lives made harder by violence feeding the ‘black people are dangerous’ trope maybe it’s you who needs to sit down; even my own work differentiates between understanding and condoning violence, detailing its roots and agreeing with it, accepting it, carries a tone of you know what you have to do to stop this to the larger world, a tone of you stop when they stop to oppressed people of all colors, all stripes. We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.” And we’re back again to why it’s bad for black people to make money using the talents that they have, to generate examples of their culture for the enrichment of the country and the planet while getting paid, providing a life for self and family like we’re supposed to instead wander the world in sack cloth and ashes? Anyone else see that ring on his finger or wonder about the name brand of the watch you can almost see in still photos of his speech that night, so it’s ok for you to bling Mr. Hollywood but not us? One guesses we should have been suspicious when he opened by talking about his parents in the audience and them making sure he knew what schools were afraid to teach us, but because there can be so many interpretations to that phrase readers/listeners decided to give him the benefit of the doubt; in hindsight silliness, when someone starts talking like that we know where this is going. Though he and his parents have nothing to fear, when schools began trying to whitewash and sanitize history calling imperialism expansionism, capitalism free enterprise and the biggie, the slave trade transatlantic trade, tried to change curriculum to align with conservative views, promote patriotism and other nonsense gobbledygook, students walked out, staged protests. No, thank you Mr. Williams for showing your true colors on the wrong side of history and respectability politics debates.
It smacks too much of Bill Cosby shouting down the kids who weren’t getting shot down for political reasons, but got shot for stealing pound cake when we knew it was about so much more than pound cake, Coca Cola; asking where parents crying at their child in an orange jumpsuit were at 2, 12 and 18, how they missed their child had a pistol, when he should have been asking why trained police felt it ok to shoot anyone in the back of the head for suspicion of petty crime. Knowing full well a staggering percentage encompassing those absentee, clueless parents were probably incarcerated on varying degrees of legitimate charges, virtually assassinated in the street not by thugs, bangers, gang members committing drivebys, rather by police before we knew names like Eric Garner—Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the newest names added to the carnage since Jesse Williams decided to channel Cosby in front of a microphone trying to tell it like it is. Williams who says these things, as Cosby did a decade prior, when not 3 years ago, a mere year after Tamir Rice was gunned down playing, 2 upscale department stores harassed patrons in instances of shopping while black for their legitimate purchases including an actor from the movie Finding Forester and Forest Whitaker was accused of stealing from a New York deli, being dressed to the 9’s at the time to boot, fully aware of Terrance Howard’s harrowing airplane story just trying to take his young daughter to the bathroom. The same Cosby who demonized Ebonics is you, you aint, where he go, saying he can’t even talk like “these” people and kids can’t get anywhere not knowing how to speak English; telling rapt listeners that they can’t fly a plane or be a doctor “with that crap coming out of their mouth” suggesting they spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics, a debunked program 2-4 years before his speech was made famous circa 2002-2004, as opposed to $500 on sneakers. Independent even I, who didn’t grow up speaking it, can translate Ebonics from watching television, so why can’t you also engage in some cross cultural immersion, if you want to talk to “these people,” questioning wouldn’t a better speech have been why they can’t be pilots, doctors speaking their vernacular of English the same as the southern drawl, California twang, a Bostonian accent; further “de-legitimizing” his already wildly unpopular stance on respectability politics failing to address what you do when you’ve done all this and the needle still doesn’t move owing to systemic racism, classism and discrimination. Declaring “I haven’t heard one fellow yet say, I went to medical school all because my gang members encouraged me to do so while we were breaking into the gas station,” yet it’s entirely possible, even plausible they got out of the life, went to med school after seeing a friend killed, nearly killed and being powerless to help for lack of knowledge, the latter feasible sans gang participation. Mr. Jell-O, America’s dad decrying backwards hats and clothes a good 10 years after Kris Kross, the non-gangster rap duo responsible for the trend, had hit it big and faded out of public notice along with body piercings, tattoos; telling kids to pull up their pants and not denigrate the minimum wage job once talking about an Ethiopian man willing to work at Burger King, Dairy Queen because he knows he will someday own the Dairy Queen. Until the recession and millennials came along in full force proving both wrong; me personally having the same problem today as when I first heard it or Barbra Walters on The View advising college kids not to think the MBA from Harvard made them too good to get the boss’ coffee, his plan works great if your end goal in life is to own a business, not for anything else and her advice would have more merit if she could answer how not to be doing the same thing in 5, 10, 15 years because management used you for a gofer without teaching you anything the purpose of an internship, entry level position. Important since we are discussing minorities who can’t afford to be choosy of any opportunity in their path, more likely to be used in such a way and the recurring exclamation from employers about résumés: wanting to know if you just got the boss’ coffee or had an actual job, the former never what an internship was for. Irony of a man telling kids to pull up their pants who couldn’t keep his zipped and needed to drug women to get them into bed despite his celebrity status, probably committed the far greater crime, than expecting things handed to you, sagging your pants or blaming ‘the system’ for your own failures—rape, fathering at least one child out of wedlock while bashing women for having 8 kids by 8 different fathers simultaneously amassing 20 mistresses, paying hush money to protect his stellar image was lost on all of no one. Charles Barkley too even now choosing to beat up on ‘lesser’, ‘unsuccessful’ blacks chanting the mantra we have to expect better from ourselves, defending people a-la Adrian Peterson and ‘the south’ for the switch induced flogging of is 4 year old son over shoving his bother because of a video game, calling it discipline and that the whole region would be in jail if what he did was suddenly a crime. Chris Rock opening is HBO show, eventually getting rich talking about blacks he called n*ggers, the bottom of the barrel of black society making it harder for ‘good’ blacks to succeed getting laughs out of a joke about hiding his money in books because n*ggers don’t read; Mychal Denzel calling out the trio and more besides as I extrapolated from there challenging Michael Moore and millennial workplace clothing trend backlash. Reminding people who never have to worry about their race, their hair, their name or their street address in applying for a job that that ‘welfare queen’ mentioned in article 3 below is a ‘welfare queen’ because her race, bitter circumstance, lack of money for beauty/fashion school to cut hair, tailor clothing for a living is why she gets by on ‘welfare’ doing hair and suite alterations in the neighborhood for folks job interviews. Reality that sure some dime a dozen thug in your ‘hood’ would “tease you about being a nerd, but told the other drug dealers not to mess with you because you were going to college,” or dope dealing Cousin X bought your school supplies. A good-for-nothing-drunk-of-an-uncle who fixed cars that helped folks get to work probably drinks so much because he never got to go to mechanic training to fix cars for a living, too busy working minimum wage to help his mom/dad support his brothers and sisters, or if he did, no one would give him a job, there aren’t enough of those type jobs in his dilapidated F-town. Because he is black and ‘lives there’ his options to seek treatment, try to get sober are far more limited than whites. Mychal Denzel Smith hit the nail on the head when he said: “What the “bad blacks” have understood better than the mouthpieces of respectability is that under white supremacy we won’t all “make it.” Under the current system, there isn’t room for all of us at the table, no matter how high our pants are pulled up or how great our diction. In order for some of us to achieve, the “bad blacks” sacrificed themselves.” No, Jesse Williams shouldn’t be fired for his provocative poetry, neither should he be lauded for it, but like Bob Costas, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Shultz in late 2012 emphatically insisting if Jovan Belcher had not owned a gun, i.e. had guns not been so easy to get, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive, he deserves to be called out for getting it horribly wrong in crucial ways, for too quickly jumping on the bandwagon of respectability politics run by those who came before him to the same disastrous results, resorting to discussions on pound cake, sneakers, vernacular instead of the issue. That echoing another blogger writing on Ferguson—“Looting, too, is about power. When people have nothing and something happens to remind them, in a big way, that what little they do have can be taken away in an instant, including their lives and the lives of their children, they may reach for any semblance of power or control they can get. That might mean breaking a window or even starting a fire. It may mean taking something. Something you’ve been told you can’t have because you’re not human enough to live, let alone prosper—,” it is about the store owner who always denigrated you for your neighborhood, blamed you for the bad in it without you having done anything, high prices meaning you, your family could never afford anything from there when others could. So that when predictably things erupt, as they always will, you loot, steal what people told you, you were too inhuman, undeserving to have, to have a change to own, consume, enjoy even when it’s just pound cake and Coca Cola. And instead of talking about, as Mychal Denzel Smith also said, why black opportunities are so few, when you do pull up your pants, speak well, are smart, intelligent, capable, we’re screaming why are you looting? Or in Williams’ case, why name brand clothes are bad for blacks and blacks alone: because slavery.
How easily he dismisses for all the “Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil—black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them.” Those who happily line up to be ‘stolen from’ ‘exploited,’ who don’t see it as exploitation and shouldn’t; to make money and do well showcasing your culture all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the raw, real places people come from, come up from and come out of informing people and creating a good life for you and yours, fluffing the economic 11th commandment: giving your children better than you had, the 11th commandment for the impoverished: get the heck out of the projects. The ‘white’ people who work at record labels, similar venues who aren’t racist or exploitive making the same money helping back people tell their stories through their music, their clothing, their business venture, and what pray tell is wrong with that again, other than you don’t like it? Oh yes Kanye West did it to music in All Falls Down, talking about white exploitation’s effect on blacks, a lifetime of social conditioning turning out blacks who don’t know how to get success or what to do with it when they have it; back when he made music rather than making headlines for interrupting award shows, targeting white celebrities for obnoxious behavior and being married to Kim Kardashian, naming his children confusing things North and Saint being his daughter and son. “Man I promise, she’s so self conscious She has no idea what she’s doing in college That major that she majored in don’t make no money But she won’t drop out, her parents will look at her funny Now, tell me that ain’t insecure The concept of school seems so secure Sophomore three years aint picked a career She like fuck it, I’ll just stay down here and do hair Cause that’s enough money to buy her a few pairs of new Airs Cause her baby daddy don’t really care She’s so precious with the peer pressure Couldn’t afford a car so she named her daughter Alexus She had hair so long that it looked like weave Then she cut it all off now she look like Eve And she be dealing with some issues that you can’t believe Single black female addicted to retail… Man I promise, I’m so self conscious That’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches Rollies and Pasha’s done drove me crazy I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that versace! Then I spent 400 bucks on this Just to be like nigga you ain’t up on this! And I can’t even go to the grocery store Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team It seems we living the american dream But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem The prettiest people do the ugliest things For the road to riches and diamond rings We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us We trying to buy back our 40 acre s And for that paper, look how low we a’stoop Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coop/coupe… We’ll buy a lot of clothes when we don’t really need em Things we buy to cover up what’s inside Cause they make us hate ourself and love they wealth That’s why shortys hollering “where the ballas’ at?” Drug dealer buy Jordans, crackhead buy crack And a white man get paid off of all of that… I wanna act ballerific like it’s all terrific I got a couple past due bills, I won’t get specific I got a problem with spending before I get it We all self conscious I’m just the first to admit it… Never mind if you want to do hair go to beauty school not college; many people growing up poor are self-conscious doing the things he described, not just blacks. Returning to Jesse Williams, talking about who’s “Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit” is to stop being oblivious to those who first tried to gentrify us were our own all the way back to reconstruction and WEB Du Bois or that he’s engaging in the same thought process while whining where others aren’t; forget ‘black’ music, ‘black’ style have been mainstream for decades about the time black people figured out they could make money making music in the modern age. Mr. Williams and I are the same age thus old enough to remember when hip-hop and rap were just that, not gangster rap giving them something to denigrate talking about pimps and hoes, featuring scantily clad women, ‘bling,’ cussing every other word out of the artists mouth or that both mainstreamed because it was cool, there was an appetite for it from the white community having grown up in identical projects, alongside blacks. What does he think made Eminem so popular being white and again there is no argument he’s good, there’s no argument he has a place among black rappers, can do it with the best of them, has earned the respect of that group and had no shortage of collaborations due to his talent in the genre. Not that he didn’t get the same cultural appropriation flack as Timberlake’s complement; his song The Way I Am illustrates that perfectly getting success likewise meant getting raked over the coals, “and I just do not got the patients to deal with these cocky causations who think I’m some wigger who tries to be black cause I talk with an accent and grab on my balls till they always keep asking the same f-ing questions what school did I go to, what hood I grew up in, the why, the who what when, the where and the how till I’m grabbing my hair and tearing it out…” And it’s only ‘cultural appropriation’ when whites do it, when blacks do it it’s called bettering themselves; blatant double stander highlighted by a YouTube commenter looking at the Justin Timberlake dustup, “cultural appropriation” AKA jealous, racist blacks mad that a white person doing their art form better than them…how many whites do you see getting mad at Darius Rucker doing country music? NONE…” (what he says after that isn’t fit to print) Attitude problem notwithstanding, his claim of racist blacks notwithstanding he’s right; few cared Darius Rucker went from alternative rock to country, especially on the country side. Remember Rachel Dolezal the NAACP chapter leader scandalized for ‘pretending to be black’ for then saying she identified as black mirroring the same way some identify as transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual the following commenters disbelief in the LGBT community aside he makes a valid point, “Bruce Jenner is celebrated. Chaz Bono is celebrated. Obama calls and personally congratulates people like Michael Sams, Jason Collins, and the Windsor woman, who are behaving in ways that contradict the theory that we humans are still a species. Yet the political Left and the Obamas have extended no love or support to the Spokane NAACP president who identified as Black. She attended an HBCU and has a Black husband with whom she and he have conceived and delivered a child who is made up of 50% of each’s DNA (without a surrogate, I presume). She passed as Black without medical, surgical, or pharmaceutical intervention – no excisions or implants. She described several life experiences that were not true (whereas Jenner and Bono have also described personal beliefs and occurrences that cannot be truth, and have undergone invasive bodily interventions that go against the natural biology and physiology of the half of the species that each is a DNA and phenotypic member. Yet Jenner and Bono have been greatly celebrated by the political Left). I am a Black American adult male, a trained medical doctor, who has endured the medical claims of certain factions of the medical and psychiatric communities that have supported lgbt delusions that are IMPOSSIBLE to substantiate, yet accepted in mainstream society as proven truths. In conclusion, if one group can claim to be something other than its absolute self by proclaiming life experiences contradictory to his or her natural biology and physiology, then the Spokane NAACP president (now resigned) should be just as celebrated for making claims about her life experiences to legitimize her racial-orientation. The ends do justify the means. Otherwise, all lies are equal whether in the mind or in the behind.” [Sic] There is no denying she immersed herself in black culture, clearly identifies with it, did graduate work at a black college, there is zero indication she failed in teaching black studies to students, fails in understanding uniquely black issues and ‘passing for black, biracial with some portion of black heritage’ experienced some of the same racism, discrimination. It reminds me of a white college English professor I had who told the story of her little boy also ethnically completely white (no more than 8) who liked talking in black vernacular was very free in church, things she tried to discourage him out of lest he be called a racist, accused of the same, wrong, bad form, exploitive cultural appropriation; let’s make that sit down and for good measure shut up. Not to mention our national obsession with Michael Jackson’s skin color refusing to believe he had the skin disease vitiligo and used makeup, as the disease progressed, to even out his skin tone to look a semblance of normal, or considering his job, evened it out as not to scare fans, spawn more dying and death rumors. The skin bleaching that does go on in the black community, pushed by the black community because the lighter you are the more acceptable you are even among them Lil’ Kim a tragic celebrity example of colorism spreading beyond Hollywood. But thanks for calling us all race-traitor, accused of having an Oreo problem for wanting, trying to earn a good living while you work where?
Jesse Williams is the type of person, at least in his identity politics, who makes people feel they aren’t black enough, loyal to the cause enough if you don’t do certain things, arrange their life a certain way, accused of cozying up too closely to oppression otherwise, a 21st century variation on the back to Africa movement, going back to Africa because that’s where we belong, movements to adopt different names, changing your name to an ‘African’ one not your ‘slave name,’ because it ‘sounds white.’ Example, your aren’t being a good, representative black if you don’t name your kid something distinctly ‘black;’ it can’t be Rose or Grace or Anne, it has to be Shaniqua, Chantal or something exotic, it can’t be James, or John, or Alex, even if it is a family name, honors a mixed race heritage. Saw a YouTube video responding to Williams whose title was Mixed People Don’t Count? It has to be Jaquan, Keon, Pharaoh and always spelled some odd way as to stand out; no thought given to just how much it will stand out to the teacher who can’t pronounce it, the child who you hold in your arms who will be teased for it or the negative impact it will have on a job application. Identity politics that sees black women hating white women who love a black man, criticize black men or women who date, marry whites because to do so is taking the good black men, the non-ho black women away from their community, limiting choices of people seeking to make solid families; hey wasn’t that a movie plot with Julia Stiles? Wanna talk about crap issuing out of people’s mouths how about we do away with that and the attitudes behind it? The kind of parent who won’t let their kid go to the store and choose their own age appropriate, safe toy beyond dolls vs. trucks, building kits for girls not boys only, but who insists they must choose the black doll not the white one, filling their world with only black faces and black role models petrified their child won’t have a cultural identity or worse, it will be ‘too white.’ At least when Nathan McCall did it he was trying to prevent the cultural void, cultural disconnection he himself experienced, that drove him to activities that meant time in jail, and it was coming out of the ‘70’s we know better now, or we should. Speaking of parenting, black respectability politics, identity politics that fuels ultra-authoritarian models exhibited by people like James Harrison who made a big fuss over his son’s participation trophies not simply in the era of too many trophies, celebrating mediocrity, but under the, however subconscious, idea blacks have to be so much better than their white counterparts to have a chance. Destructive identity politics perpetuating savage parental discipline like Adrian Peterson’s, Schaquana Spears’ who felt compelled to beat her kids with a video cord, not just to follow the prevailing white thinking of making better citizens, limiting the number of entitled brats ‘we are overrun with’ but harkening back to slavery where they had better keep their kids in line, teach them their place lest they be killed by master; evolving today into their parents had better beat them or the police will, hailing it as some kind of preventative to the former, instead of adding to his spoken word poetry a line or 2 about police not beating anybody regardless of color, race creed. Identity politics telling individuals it’s more important to live your race, your ethnicity, have the elaborate ‘black’ hair, the ‘black’ clothes than it is to be who you are as a person, more important to speak the neighborhood vernacular than it is to be yourself, or following the Kanye song go to college than say beauty school, stylist school, because now that blacks can go to college everyone has to. How is that not a different kind of slavery, servitude as we’ve been trying to bring ourselves out of for years, how is that different than our driving force being money, getting paid and the ‘bad,’ unwise things we choose to do with it; doesn’t seem much different to me and a lot of other people. For someone who praised his parents for telling him to focus on comprehension and not career he fails to comprehend quite a bit; quite a bit more than these deemed uneducated fools in the streets who will never reach their full potential thanks to their habits. And if this is not Jesse Williams, if this was not his message, why did he give that speech and give it that way; if I’m reading this wrong and his not touting respectability politics with a side note or 2 on other issues, then why give that speech, why the lines about brands on our bodies, why the lines about gentrifying genius, extracting dollars like oil, black gold? If it meant something else, other than telling black people the evils of money, to focus on something else, never saying what, acting like we should all be in sack cloth and ashes until such a time as what, he never clarified either, then why did it hit my ears and so many others that way, why engage the argument that way at all, why not the line about Tamir Rice and stop, giving people more to think about on top of it? No the discomfort with Jesse Williams, generating the reactions he got, is same discomfort had with Bill Cosby, Chris Rock and Charles Barkly, he isn’t telling the truth backs won’t face or whites won’t face, or being real, telling it like it is; he’s rehashing lies, stereotypes and tropes using different words. Being specific about which ‘white’ public servants, police he has a justifiable problem with losing that specificity in talking about how whiteness has abused blacks taking all their culture for their own benefit when what he’s really doing saying is he’s chastising business for acting like business always has; and while there are plenty of reasons to hate corporate America, bad business practices that have become standard, A- corporate America is not all business in America. B- because ‘it is detrimental to the black race,’ isn’t one of them when what derailed Kris Kross’ business ventures is a common mistake of not knowing your numbers, spending money unaware of what’s no longer coming in; says the surviving member of the group regarding their still operational business in Europe, that in reality went from hot trend to simple survival, not total dissolution. Simultaneously telling blacks, however subliminally it has been refined in the 21st century poetic forms, pull up your pants, improve your diction, don’t sell out to ‘white people; which has only lead to more black failure as those of all ages look up at the system, see it’s broken, listen to the back voices of success and decide if success means losing myself I will stay down here where I can at least be me. Mystified as to why all white people too don’t want to be painted with the same brush and said so; no boo doesn’t need a petition, but one to stop BS, worth a try.