Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gordon Gartrelle says: Respectable to Ourselves!

Sister Zora,

Buffoons of all stripes are made to be clowned. Don’t you laugh at tacky rednecks or homoerotic white frat boys? Why does it become a matter of racial elitism when the buffoons are poor and black?

Shouldn’t we, progressive thinkers concerned about black well-being, be given the benefit of the doubt? We don’t hate black people. We aren’t ashamed of our blackness. We don’t believe that racism has been eradicated from our society. We don’t believe that all poor black people are hopeless degenerates. We do, however, believe that some poor black people are degenerates, and that those of us who should know better continue to enable and make excuses for them. Clearly, the black underclass doesn’t have a monopoly on dysfunction, but we delude ourselves by pretending that the problems aren’t acute among this population.

What’s more discouraging is that “respectable” black people jump to publicly defend black degenerates—I emphasize “publicly.” I’ve spent a lot of time with brothers and sisters like yourself: educated defenders of the black underclass, performing all manners of excuse-making and victimology to anyone who will listen in public, but who behind closed doors spew the most callous vitriol about the very people they defend. The harshest comments I’ve heard about the black underclass have come from educated black progressives (as well as the respectable members of the underclass itself). As Brother Chauncey often jokes, Michael Eric Dysonbrilliant, pandering flimflam artist that he is—probably looks at the loud, vulgar, disrespectful horde of black kids in ghetto neighborhoods and says to himself, “What a bunch of ign’ant ass niggas.”

The politics of respectability used to be performed primarily for white people. Since courting white approval is pathological, it’s time for the politics of respectability to be performed for black people, especially the worse off among us.

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