Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zora says: The Politics of Respectability? or, the Politics of Responsibility?

Gordon, I consider both you and Chauncey to be friends. As such, I presume that you are intelligent and deliberative, that you think about the impact of your words and that you are capable of giving context to phenomena in our community. Above all else, I presume that in fact you love black people (I hope so, at least). I do not presume that you are both progressives -- that remains to be seen.

I will never waste my time defending "black degenerates," or any other kind of degenerate. They simply are not worth it. But neither will I waste my time highlighting and publicizing degenerate black behavior. Why? Again, they are not worth it. I only wish that the American media, white conservatives and black "progressives(?)conservatives" like Chauncey and Bill Cosby would share my perspective. Oprah Winfrey, for example, disappointed me greatly when she defended her choice to build a school in South Africa by saying that inner-city children in the U.S. wouldn't value a free education. Apparently, she asked a couple of kids in Chicago what they would want from her and they answered gym shoes. She took those few responses to represent the values of an entire class of children in our community. In spite of her own self and her own history, she bought into what the media consistently sells regarding our people. (I do wonder if Oprah now will be as quick to make generalizations about South Africans given that her new school is at the center of controversy). Please let us not forget that from the very time we arrived in the U.S., we have been putting our lives at risk in pursuit of education. Those values are still kicking in our community.

Why not use our voices and resources to discuss the black working poor who are struggling to get ahead? to discuss cutbacks in American public schools? to discuss the lack of police protection in urban neighborhoods? ... Let's address the root causes of disfunction where it exists rather than just mocking those who are disfunctional. This is not about making excuses, it is about taking responsibility.

Gordon and Chauncey, here's to performing the politics of responsibility! My brothers, are you with me?

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