Respectability Politics Are No Solution; They Are A Surrender » VSB

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Respectability Politics Are No Solution; They Are A Surrender

At times like these, when the uncomfortable behavior of (mostly) Black people is broadcast to a (mostly) White audience and becomes a national discussion point, a particular type of Black person tends to emerge. Actually, “emerge” might not even be the best word, because it implies that this person rose from somewhere, when in reality they’ve always been there. They’re just louder now.

You know who they are. They exist in your family. They’re found at your office, in your Facebook timelines, and on your TVs. And since you know them — you know them better than you wish to know them — you know what they’re going to say before they even say it, because when they’re talking about uncomfortable things Black people are doing, it usually revolves around the same theme: What Will The White People Think?

These are the people whose primary concern with Baltimore’s unrest isn’t the injustice that precipitated these protests and riots or the conditions that cultivated today’s tensions, but the optics. How badly things look on TV, how uncomfortable these uncomfortable Black people are making White people, and how difficult it will be to convince the White people unconvinced of our humanity that we’re humans if we continue making them uncomfortable. They’re the same people infuriated with boys sagging their pants. But not because it looks stupid. (Because it does look stupid as hell.) But because a White person might see them. And if that White person sees that one Black boy with his ass hanging out of his pants, that will give that one White person all the justification he needs to continue to believe all Black boys have a natural predisposition to abhor belts. Which will then lead him to continue to believe that Black people will not be worthy of full citizenship until we buy our boys some belts. You can even find this Black person railing against shows like Love and Hip-Hop and Empire because if we only behaved better, if we only projected more positive images of ourselves, if we only stopped saying “nigger” so damn much, Black people would thrive, and White people would be nicer to us.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that this way of thinking can be seductive. Because if things were that easy — if all we needed to do to right injustice was smile and shop at Jos. A. Banks — well, who wouldn’t want to sign up for that? Who wouldn’t want to believe that all it takes to convince the type of White person unconvinced of our humanity that we are, in fact, human, is a family sitcom? Or a collective community rejection of a fucking word? But do not be seduced by this subterfuge. Their respectability politics may seem like viable solutions, but they are not. They are, however, proof of surrender. They have given up. They are no longer fighting. They have been defeated, and they are attempting to survive within a world that has defeated them.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • ChiChi

    *Stands at desk and begins to clap*

  • radically moderate

    Please seriously consider the answer to this question for a few minutes before responding….. “Why are there so many white people living in poverty?”……..If you think about that in any serious way, you will be able to make a list of reasons. Despite their white privilege, despite their access to opportunity and despite all of their built in advantages, why are there far more white people living in poverty than people of color (granted it is a smaller % of their overall population, but the sheer numbers are huge). List the reasons, and I think you will find that they are nearly identical to the reasons why so many black people live in poverty, in every way except one…….white people can’t blame their race. Here are the reasons I can come up with……what can you add? — Lack of vision for a better future. Feeling trapped in their current circumstance. Failure to get educated. Failure to acquire job skills. Not enough opportunity. Unwed teen moms and deadbeat dads. Drug use. Criminal records. Health problems. Most frustratingly, the lack of desire/discipline to change their self-destructive behaviors — This list of reasons have nothing to do with skin color. Therefore, I would argue that the solutions need to be about better decision making by all, and not about race. We all need to understand that ending poverty for all requires a combination of public, private and cultural incentives that encourage productive behaviors by individuals. Poverty is not about skin color, as more black people than ever are thriving today and millions of white people remain stuck in abject poverty. Our solutions should be about addressing the list of reasons above, without regard for the race of those impoverished.

    • Let me suggest an alternative reasoning behind this:

      The economic system in America is best described as mercantilism (it never died): where the corporations and governments work together in order to achieve what they deem to be in the best interest of the state: thus the only statistic that really matters is GDP. If GDP goes up, then the economy is doing well. If GDP goes down, the economy isn’t doing well. In the last 70 years, GDP only went down once: it was 2008, and it was technically, not that big a drop. The economy is functioning properly, it never stopped doing so.

      The American government favors corporations, because they help boost American power and influence which benefits all politicians associated with it (this is why all congressmen come out as millionaires when they go to DC), it is not simply because of mere corruption that things are the way they are (every government is corrupt by nature anyhow, it’s a matter of how much are people able to thrive despite it that makes a country good or bad – as racist as America is, it’s pretty successful in this regard). America could change it’s economy to favor small business, high wages, and full employment, however, such an economy doesn’t keep China at bay, thus, hey, we’re going to favor Wall Street because they help fund corporations, which help us produce the wealth and power that we need to maintain the number one spot.

      The nature of corporations is to consistently increase productivity, and the biggest expense of a corporation is it’s labor…thus the best way to bring increasing value to your company, is by cutting labor costs. You either do that through firing people or you do that through automation (the government also creating laws that help cancel out competition also helps, but it can only do so domestically; international competition is harder to regulate and their motherlands tend to retaliate to.) Welp, we’re living in an age where automation is driving things and thus, a lot less American workers are needed…and yet the population is increasing.

      America is well aware of this and knows that such circumstances screw the vast majority of the people, however, the greater good is to stay ahead of China, Russia, The EU, Japan etc, thus politicians main job is to figure out ways to deal with the obvious unrest that such circumstances demand: republicans advocate religion and a strong judiciary; whereas democrats advocate increasing the taxes of the rich and social planning or reorganization (aka money that isn’t already in corporations and increasing the power of the state is what ends up getting used – democrats screw over athletes and doctors more so than corporations like they sell themselves as doing)…this is how America works.

      White people tend to be taken better care of, because they are indeed privileged, but also entitled (google Joe Stack: IRS building), so when dibs come for jobs that involve dealing with social unrest they get first choice, especially when it’s from republicans: thus why white men dominate the judiciary jobs esp. the police force. When it comes to liberals who advocate for social programs produced out of redistribution of wealth, they give it to their own bases: white women and minorities. White guys also are the most armed people in the U.S. and when all else fails, states tend to tread carefully when people are armed and organized. Yeah, they still plot to get rid of you, but in the mean time, they’ll negotiate and bide their time until they can come up with a solution (google the mafia).

      In the end, poverty is a by-product of the system. It’s perfectly logical actually, when you sit back and think about it, after all, if the purpose of your government is to maintain it’s number one spot, then all parts of society are going to have to sacrifice in order for that to be the case. The easy answer is to change the system, which the 60’s and 70’s protest, believe it or not did achieve, unfortunately, change ? better…they are actually responsible for the society we have today, and are completely unaware that this is their own doing. We’d go farther as a society if we incorporated such knowledge when trying to bring about change, we’d actually put a lot more thought and refer a lot more to history and wisdom in the process.

      • Dutty Boukman

        And what they deemed best is shipping good jobs overseas, not paying most people a minimum wage, and working the American public to the max to where we’re damn near zombies.

    • Vanity in Peril

      Ew. This is a safe place. Please stop leaving the gate open.

      • PunchDrunkLove

        Can folks “post” without the attacks, trailing and sarcasm? Just wow l

        ThIS is the kind of ignorance I’m leery of. Where’s the progress in your INABILITY to allow others their say? I don’t see anyone trailing and harrassing you. Keep it moving if you can’t civilly discuss. IJS. Digs and jabs shows your true ignorance.

        • Vanity in Peril

          Nawl

    • Asiyah

      “Therefore, I would argue that the solutions need to be about better decision making by all, and not about race.”

      And the first people who should focus on building better decision-making skills are the police officers who continue to kill unarmed civilians.

      • Dutty Boukman

        These white folks and cops gonna be racist. There’s no stopping that. So how are we gonna deal with them?

        A snake is gonna be a snake, and I know they’re on my property. So when I need to educate my loved ones about the snakes, what is the better course of action? Teach my loved ones how to outsmart the snake, and how to deal with it to survive the encounter, or should have a conversation with the snake, and tell the snake how mad I am?

        While I agree these cops need to be better a decision making, I think leaving that decision on the cops to make the right decision is not in your best interest.

        • AlwaysCC

          “A snake is gonna be a snake, and I know they’re on my property. So when I need to educate my loved ones about the snakes, what is the better course of action? Teach my loved ones how to outsmart the snake, and how to deal with it to survive the encounter, or should have a conversation with the snake, and tell the snake how mad I am?” <—i like this

        • Asiyah

          I didn’t appreciate radically moderate’s extremely simplistic notion that making better decisions is “the” solution. While I definitely agree with your notion of outsmarting the snake, life isn’t that simple.

          • Dutty Boukman

            I respectfully disagree. I think it can be that simple. If you know they capable of biting, then you won’t do stupid crap to get bit. You’ll probably would want to build a snake trapnor something Lol. Hoping a snake won’t bite is not smart. You have to assume its dangerous, hence you know to be smart about roaming around.

            • Asiyah

              “I think it can be that simple. If you know they capable of biting, then you won’t do stupid crap to get bit.”

              What you might consider to be smart, the perpetrator might not. You can be extremely intelligent, law-abiding, etc. but if the police officer perceives you a certain way, no amount of lack of “stupid crap” can guarantee that the officer might not hurt you.

        • radically moderate

          Dutty, I would argue that a 25 year old man who has been arrested 18 times, spending time in prison, for selling drugs to children, robbing people, etc., is a FAR bigger snake in your neighborhood than the police officer who arrests him. I am NOT trying to excuse what happened, as no one should EVER die while in custody, but your determination that a police officer is the biggest danger or “snake” in the community seems a little misplaced to me.

          • Val

            Drug dealers are supposed to be snakes. Police aren’t supposed to be. That’s the point.

      • radically moderate

        Why does someone have to go first? Why can’t we all move forward together? Almost every recent tragedy covered by the 24 hour news cycle has involved a victim who was engaged in criminal or suspicious activity, which is what the cops are paid to deal with. Obviously, that does NOT mena any of these tragedies should have occurred and we clearly do need to train police better and to eliminate the bad apples. But, AT THE SAME TIME, we need every citizen to make better decisions, to obey the law and to respect the police. We can do this, but it is counter-productive to demand the other side goes first before we start improving ourselves.

        • Asiyah

          Why is this onus ALWAYS on citizens to make better decisions? Police officers are citizens as well and they should also practice better decision-making skills. And you are demanding that us, the citizens, go first in the improving ourselves department.

          • radically moderate

            I suggested moving forward together…..not demanding the other side go first. That seems awfully childish to me. Plus, I’m pretty sure that police officers are citizens too.

            • please read: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/29/david-simon-on-baltimore-s-anguish?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share-tools&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=post-top

              What you are saying is faulty reasoning at best…and is at the core of what is going on with the protests right now. There’s an article by David Simon on whats been going on in Baltimore for quite some time, about how the definition of “probable cause” has blatantly be destroyed to the point now, where cops in the city could pretty much end up arresting you because they don’t like the way you are looking at them.

              The fact remains, and is basic social studies 101: the police are a part of the judiciary branch, which means they are a part of the government and thus are granted privileges that other citizens are not…which they have for the primary purpose of serving the public. The reason why the citizens are protesting, and increasingly becoming enraged, is because they are well aware that if what happened to Freddie Grey happened under the supervision of other “citizens”, then they would be in jail immediately. It’s because what you’re saying has no veracity in reality that people are out there losing it.

              And no, it is not childish to expect that a servant act like a servant, that’s what the badge represents. It’s clear in Baltimore to anyone who pays attention, that that isn’t what is going on, when the cameras aren’t on display. The other thing missing from your arguments is that you’re so caught up in the maintenance of law and order, that you’re ignoring precedent. The fact is that criminals, are citizens too, and they have rights as well. When cops are killing them without due process, and due to technicalities are getting off for murder or manslaughter which a regular citizen or criminal would not, you’re basically telling the community that “character” is more important than “rights” under the law…which makes you no better than a slave, since basically you’re telling people that their survival is dependent on whether cops like them or not.

              • radically moderate

                I hear lots of people making similar arguments to yours and I understand where it comes from. I don’t think the facts bear out the hyperbole, though. The vast, vast majority of arrests are performed without incident. That is not to excuse these tragedies, but they are a tiny minority of all police actions. There are obviously bad apples in all professions, but I am just not as comfortable as you in looking at all the facts and coming to the conclusion that cops are bad and the people they arrest aren’t bad. Let me ask you this question……Do you believe that Freddie Gray had no other choice but to steal things and deal drugs, getting arrested 18 times by age 25? Are the decisions he made with his life inevitable and beyond his ability to control?……While we are raging against the police, shouldn’t we balance some of that anger with rage against our citizens who choose the easy, illegal dollar over the one that requires work and effort? What choices would you advise your children to make???

                • It is irrelevant whether the majority of cops are good or bad, or whether Freddie Grey is an irresponsible adult or not. What matters is what people are allowed to do, once a badge is put on their chest and they are given the responsibility to enforce the law. We are quite clear on what citizens are not allowed to do…and we do a good job of punishing those who fall out of line…perhaps better than any other nation in the world.

                  The basis of your argument is that because of your initial assumption that police are generally good, you do not have a strict sense of limitations and boundaries that they are supposed to be working in, and thus do not have a sense of outrage when they do work outside of them, because to some extent you view them as not being expendable. And it is because of the support of such people as yourself, that police men are able to actually protect the supposed “bad apples”, because they themselves view their institution as not being expendable: which was on display in NY when a “large number” of supposed good apples, blatantly and openly disrespected their Mayor, because they felt he didn’t have their back.

                  All of this is why I mentioned branches of government. When this nation was formed, it was well understood that the branches of government had to be checked against one another, because they were easily seduced by power, which leads to corruption. My concern and complaint, is that when it comes to the judiciary branch in this country, especially the part of the police force, that people like yourself get so caught up in the maintenance of law, order and fighting crime, that you are willing to overlook blatant corruption even when it’s staring you right in the face like in Baltimore (the David Simon article) and Ferguson…with the victims ending up being the people who aren’t Freddie Grey, but since they live in proximity to him, suffer nevertheless…people like yourself are willing to accept tyranny in bad neighborhoods as a necessary evil, because you’re more scared of anarchy. Unfortunately, as Baltimore shows, the only logical conclusion of tyranny is anarchy, it’s just a matter of when the people snap.

    • Question

      Interesting thoughts.

      The only problem with your line of thinking is that it requires that White people acknowledge the poor that exist within their ranks. The truth is a) White people don’t acknowledge the White poor and b) even the White poor themselves are reticent to think of themselves as poor, hence why you see so many White poor repeatedly voting against their own self interests.

      The majority do not see poverty as a temporary and addressable condition; they see it as a symptom of a mindset and therefore as totally controllable.

      • radically moderate

        Interesting. I am confused by your last sentence, as I think nearly all people, of all backgrounds, who have worked hard and reached some level of success, see poverty as temporary and addressable if the impoverished person’s mindset can be changed. There are so many examples of people rising from poverty to accomplish great things that it really does seem like implementing programs that can encourage a positive vision for the future and better decision making to start down the path toward that vision……while providing public and private support for those who begin that journey and for those who have yet to commit themselves, or who are unable to commit themselves.

        • Question

          I agree with you.

          I am confused by your last sentence, as I think nearly all people, of all backgrounds, who have worked hard and reached some level of success, see poverty as temporary and addressable if the impoverished person’s mindset can be changed.

          …if that were the case, what is the plausible and rationale argument for not investing in the educational, health and job placement systems in inner cities? There is a disconnect and I think it lies in the fact that the sentiment you describe above, that I wholeheartedly agree with, is not nearly as widespread as you would like it to be amongst the General Population.

          • radically moderate

            I reject the concept that anyone failing to vote for more and more money to be invested is somehow against solving the problem. I have some right wing friends who do amazing personal things to help those less fortunate, but who don’t believe that the government can solve problems no matter how many billions it spends. The solution lies in changing the mindset, and that MIGHT be better served with personal one on one mentoring and other non-financial based support. When we invest money, maybe we should try some different approaches focused on encouraging work by subsidizing wages through major expansion of the earned income tax credit, so that employers could afford to return to these areas and hire more people at lower wages that would then be offset by the EITC instead of surviving on welfare payments that don’t encourage work??? Keep in mind that it has never been easier to get a world class education in urban areas, where smart phones and free public libraries are wired to provide access to every bit of knowledge ever known to man. If your school is failing, log into Kahn Academy, TED Talks, and thousands of other educational sites where anyone can learn how to do whatever they are interested in doing. Once mindsets are changed, empowerment may be able to build momentum and change lives forever…….in ways that both parties might find acceptable.

            • Tanya

              We tried the personal, non-financial support.Check the history. Google Scientific Charity – “not alms, but a friend”. Poverty isn’t a moral failing it is an unfortunate byproduct of capitalism. This is why we did not have any form of social welfare programs until after the great depression (Social Security Act of 1935), when the world saw how anchored to the market people were. When you have a society that is dependent upon labor wages (which we were after the industrial revolution), but remove jobs and make them inaccessible to people …poverty happens. The whites who live in poverty are mostly in rural areas. Guess what the issue there is…NO jobs because no one wants to build out there. The best chance they have is either agriculture (which is as mercurial as any market dependent on weather climate would be) or some type of factory jobs. Oh that’s right, they closed down most factories. Trade jobs that rural people were able to do went away during the mass deindustrialization wave (See: Detroit) in favor of white collar jobs that they did not have the education to fill. Go to school, you say, get an education. RIGHT – but Education sucks in rural areas (I know because I grew up in NYC but lived in the backwoods of PA for my HS years). It is very hard for a person to leave their socioeconomic strata, despite the many examples of the opposite. For most, if you are born poor, you remain poor. And in regard to welfare ..speak from what you know. TANF – Temporary aid for needy families which began as ADC (Aid for Dependent children), referred to as PA encourages work. Hell, they demand it. They allot you a maximum of 60 months on it per ones whole lifetime, and under the stipulation that you receive job training and are actively looking for work. Its called the “Back to Work Program”. The issue with that is that the jobs they help ‘train’ you to acquire such as Security Guards, Home health aides, Maintenance – don’t pay much, keeping you below the poverty line, but making too much for you to receive federal aid. I grew up on welfare, unbeknownst to me. My mother worked a full time job in food service, but my father, a Vietnam veteran and carpenter/AC tech was receiving Social Security Disability insurance (which most people don’t know is a means-tested program = Public assistance). Hell, I didn’t even know we were poor because I compared myself to my neighbors. I didn’t live in the projects and I never wanted for anything. We didn’t receive food stamps. But guess what…I damn sure receive them now. With this college degree in biology from a well-known private university, with 4000 + hours of national service working in under-served communities, having work experience since the age of 16. Where is my moral failing? You know what’s really F***ed is that I was almost happy when my income hit rock bottom because I finally made little enough to qualify for medicaid. On March 17 I had my first non-triage doctor visit after 10+ years of making too much or too little to get health insurance. I cried so hard that my doctor had to just awkwardly sit there and ignore the snot bubbles.

    • niksmit

      This post was clearly spurred by murders, reactions to murders, and reactions to those reactions. Yet you wrote some words on poverty.

      Is poverty wearing badges and murdering people? Please explain, because I’m quite confused by the placement of your words.

      • radically moderate

        Niksmit, sorry for the confusion, but there have been many comments about poverty being the root cause of all of these issues we have been facing for years, so I thought I would expand the discussion and point out that it is poverty, not race that is the biggest determinant of one’s lot in life. Poverty comes in all colors, and the solutions that acknowledge that reality will have the best chance for success.

        By the way, just for the sake of accuracy, has anyone been convicted of murdering anyone in these tragedies? Your question confused me……..

    • Nan

      But it is not open season on poor white people….sorry…not the same.

      • radically moderate

        Nan, please calm down. Do you realize that almost twice as many white men are killed by police officers than black men (granted there are 5 times more white men) and that far, far, far more black men are killed by other black men than by police officers. It is hardly open season on anyone other than possibly when viewing gang rivalries. I think we probably share a lot of ideas in common, but you have to lower the nonsense if you actually want a reasonable discussion on potential solutions.

        • Asiyah

          Where are those stats? Thanks.

          • radically moderate

            Those stats are all over multiple websites. The more liberal sites couch them by using the % of the total population to show that the % of black men killed is higher, while more conservative sites couch them in raw numbers to show twice as many white men are killed. But the actual numbers don’t seem to be in dispute on any sites. Of course, the numbers of black men killed by black men are off the charts compared to the police killings. One final point to offset the silly and inaccurate “open season” nonsense is that the percentage of police interactions with black men that end up with the black man being killed is a fraction of one percent. Please keep things in perspective.

  • ghettoS

    Well stated.

  • Soula Powa

    The death knell/wake up call RE: respectability politics for me came via an interview with Melissa Harris-Perry on TWIB’s On Blackness series, I think. Dr. Perry said something to the effect that respectability politics is bunk because Skip Gates got arrested by the police for breaking into his own home and YOU CAN’T pull up your pants higher than Dr. Gates.

    I always wanted to find a good compact way to tell those friend’s and family members I have that. ‘Cause “They don’t see you as human” wasn’t working. Sigh.

    • Andie

      Is there a pill for the “What Will The White People Think?” problem. I was thinking of Melissa Harris-Perry too and her Sister Citizen book watching the news last nite. When I saw that teenager getting beat by his momma on CNN. I was feeling a whole lot
      of fictive kinship. And it wasn’t pride. Ooooh I was feeling the shame. And
      feeling ashamed of feeling the shame. Then I had to remember how the shame is supposed to increase the cortisol stress hormone. And that if I am consistently
      confronted with shaming images I am gonna end up with stuff like hardened arteries. Is there no medication for this? I’m glad I got a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I don’t feel too good.

      • esa

        ~ Is there no medication for this?

        perhaps you might try meditation and yoga, in a sustained effort to purify the body and soul. i find it can be effective to detox from society’s vast pool of poison through the simplest means, which means we must cease shadowboxing with lies in order to be free ~*~

      • Freebird

        “Is there a pill for the “What Will The White People Think?” problem.”

        Pride. Of the unforgivable kind.

  • miss t-lee

    Ready to throw all these respectability politics preaching types in the sack with the cobra.

  • Dutty Boukman

    So here’s the problem. Y’all think that because some people are ashamed of how we’re being portrayed, it’s somehow cowering to white people. That’s a lie. And that’s how they tricked some y’all. To think that because some black folks say to “stop with the bs”, you’re saying that you care about what white people think, is playing right into their playbook to keep us disorganized. It’s about caring about the future of our people. All this rioting is doing is forwarding the narrative of black people as savages. And you know what? Believe or not, we do live in a mufti-cultural society, where white people are the majority. So getting some sympathy for our causes could go a long way. And not just to white people, but to all races of people in this country, and the around the world. This is a fact. You can’t win a war of attrition against the power structure. We’re out manned, no resources, disorganized, and more willing to tear each other down. They’re not threatened by this. If they were, they will shut that crap down. Until we fix this, we will lose.

    They like showing our dysfunction. It forwards the narrative of continuing the onslaught on black people by showing us as savages. We need to fight them black ops style. Strategically. Or realize that all Americans have a common enemy. The super rich, crooked
    politicians, and corporation that robbing us of our opportunities. They want people to not be sympathetic to our causes. Because it distracts everyone from the real enemy.

    I want to be able to go through my community by not being shot by the police. It’s important we show our outrage at this. But if we want to be honest with ourselves, when I go through my community, I’m more worried about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and one of these thugs killing me. I hear more stories about good black people and our young getting shot by our own people, then some of these criminals getting shot by the police. I know I know, some of y’all gonna say that doesn’t matter. That’s exactly what they want you to think. Distract us from the real issues. Highlight the white on black crimes, so you ignore killing each other. That’s the game they playing, so they can control the black population. And like I stated previously, they want to show our dysfunction so they can continue the attack on black America. If we care about each other, and our future, we have to do better. Not for white people. But for our children’s futures. That’s who I care about. I could give a crap what white folks think. They being bamboozled too to care more about their skin than their interest. I care about my people, and want to see us prosper. And this doesn’t help that cause.

    • You have a significant misunderstand of what respectability politics actually are. Regardless of how educate a Black person is or how in-line their outward appearance is in regards to their perceived self-worth, it will not have an effect on how white power structures perceive and treat you. That has nothing to do with communal violence and crime.

      • Dutty Boukman

        Nope, you’re severely lost and brainwashed. I can’t fathom that you think “stop killing each other” = respectability politics. That should be a fairly simple concept that there’s no benefit in this. But when you’re brainwashed, you can believe anything.

        • Respectability politics does not refer to crime. Get that through your thick skull man. Respectability politics is the notion that Black people have control over how white power structures will treat us.

          • Dutty Boukman

            But the author, and many others are claiming that any black person that tells black people to “stop the bs” or “get your crap together” is respectability politics.

            But I’ll entertain you anyways. So when I say “stop killing each other”, what is the problem in saying that?

            • h.h.h.

              So when I say “stop killing each other”, what is the problem in saying that?

              it’s redundant.

              most crime, an overwhelming amount of murders, is committed on the same race. for example, a white guy, will murder..more ofthen than not, another white guy or white girl. white people from west virginia, who have an urge to kill people, aren’t traveling to black cities. with that being sense, black people more often than not, kill other black people (or people in the communities)

              i get your point, i’m borderline “respectability politics”, but stop killing each other is more an american symptom of trying to use violence to solve underlying issues/problems, than a specific ‘black issue’.

              • Dutty Boukman

                I don’t’ think the notion of “stop the killing” can every be classified as redundant.

                I understand it’s an American problem. But we don’t have time or the numbers to be doing so. We gotta start comparing ourselves with the whites. We gotta be better than them. Let them kill themselves. We need to come together.

              • I’m not so sure about this.

                There’s a great book by the historian Carrol Quigley about the history of weapons and social order in human history. And generally, the fact remains that the most free societies are usually societies where arms are dispersed and where the government pretty much owns the same kind of arms as the people. There are a lot of societies where the people don’t have weapons…they are treated far worse by the police.

                In other words, people tend to be more hesitant to be violent against each other when they are certain that retaliation and likely death is a high probability. In the hood, those who own arms usually rule over those who do not, and are usually the collateral damage that the police use to oppress the community…so it’s often a choice between two devils…the system that wants to exploit your poverty or the gangs who want to exploit the lawlessness. There used to be a time, when black folks were willing to die to clean up their neighborhoods and it was celebrated…used to be movies of black war vets coming back and beating up young black dudes who were out of control, even kill them…such an idea has surprisingly died out for some reason.

                I do agree with the sentiment that black people do need to clean up their hoods, but I also think it’s silly to believe that simply saying “Don’t kill each other” is going to work or has ever worked. I also am of the opinion that until black people are in a position where they can say we don’t need police, we’re going to continue to be exploited by them…and I think that applies, even if the police force is a majority black force, because systems are designed to function the same independent of the race or class of people.

                • Good points. The only thing I add is that a lot of interests in America make their living off of our disorder. While they aren’t scheming to oppress us on some Illuminati stuff, they will scheme to make sure their mortgage note is paid.

                  • True, disorder is big business: whether it’s in the community, the family or in the mind and heart of the individual. But like in the individual, only he himself can find a solution and rid himself of his own disorder…we can only work with the tools we have.

            • pls

              what other race is constantly asked to “stop killing each other” though? part of being brainwashed is believing the lie that somehow the violence and murders that take place in our community are any different from other races. why don’t you say “stop killing” and just leave it at that? blind leading the blind ass

              • Dutty Boukman

                So you’re justifying killing because other races do. Gotcha.

                • pls

                  didn’t justify anything. I’m saying don’t act like we are animals or uncivilized when it’s a human condition, not a black one. -_-

        • Asiyah

          with all due respect, you tend to lose people with rhetoric like “you’re severely lost and brainwashed.” what makes you think you’re not lost and brainwashed as well? you’re just as stubborn as me, him, the dog, the mail man, etc.

          • Dutty Boukman

            Well, when someone has a problem when someone is stating “stop the killing”, what else can I think?

            • Asiyah

              Nobody has a problem with “stop the killing.” That’s stating the obvious. Of course we all want to stop the killing.

              • Dutty Boukman

                OK good. So you can now address my other points if you want.

          • Dutty Boukman

            Also, I know I’m brainwashed. I have to fight this crap everyday. I’m a work in progress. But I can tell when some folks are far gone than I am.

            • Asiyah

              How can you tell? If you’re brainwashed, you’re brainwashed lol

              • Dutty Boukman

                Haha you got me. I’m a recovered brainwashee I guess. Bottom line, I want better for us, and discrediting other blacks for different opinions is playing right into their. Causes us not to come together. We need people like DL.

        • Val

          The problem isn’t being against Black folks losing their lives at the hands of other Black folks. The problem, and respectability politics aspect, comes when people use supposed Black on Black crime as a way to change the narrative. And the new narrative is always, if only Black folks would just stop killing each other then….

          • Dutty Boukman

            Why can’t you talk about both? I don’t get how saying stop police brutality, but we also need to do better also is such a bad thing.

      • Dutty Boukman

        You go off on a different subject. I’m not addressing how white people perceive me. I don’t care. But to address what you’re saying, that is true, how “educate” a black person is, does not have any effect on how the power structure perceives me. So with that thinking, when I say “black people need to do better”, how is that caring what white people think, when I have the preconceived notion of me just being black, regardless of social standing, has their engrained stereotypes of how were perceived to them? I only care about our future. Alot of what this media is doing is driving these preconceived notions or stereotypes, to continue the onslaught on Black America.

        • Respectability is completely about the perception of white people. That’s the point. That’s the topic of today’s discussion.

          • Dutty Boukman

            And that’s what I’m discussing lol. When you make an argument, you have to have examples to make your point.

          • PunchDrunkLove

            And that’s the thing. If you aren’t acting ignorant folks ASSUME it’s cause you care what the white folks think. Well I was raised nowhere around white folks. Finding resolve has more to do with us collectively as a people than what white folks think. I guess its a thing incredible to act civil sans any attachment to white folks and their perception. Thuggery ain’t the answer……whatever your color, no matter who is watching or not.

            • Except “acting in a respectable manner” isn’t exactly a top 10 black issue. STD/STI rates, black boys falling behind in education, joblessness, voting, domestic violence, lgbt violence, homelessness, etc are far more pressing issues.

              • PunchDrunkLove

                Actually I agree, but I would say THESE are the issues we need to attack if we expect to have a place in society somewhere other than sub level.

                There’s a way to be taken seriously as a race. And not acting like the white folks. Black folks by the majority live crossing the grain. Until we fix this and get everyone’s buy-in, acting like animals confirms what folks believe about us.

                • I think that’s the exact problem actually…trying to be taken seriously as a race, is an attempt to appear respectable. To whom? We already know. When the basis of your existence is founded on a reaction to a group of people or a force, you lose by default because you have already conceded your own inferiority and dependency in the process. You either exist as an independent entity or you don’t: blackness either exists independent of whiteness or it doesn’t.

                  Many of the conversations and dialogues that we tend to have about the “solutions” of the black “community” are often evasions. Like I’ve said in the past, it’s much easier to attack and fight white supremacy loudly, than build up and clean the community quietly, which ensures that the victories can actually be sustained. This is kind of why I don’t support black people fighting for reparations, I don’t mind the arguments behind them, but I don’t think they make a difference. Not because black people don’t deserve them, but by gaining them it’s another thing white folks gave away…

                  It’s even worse that some people intend for reparations to act as a boost for the black economy. The Japanese Americans did get reparations, but it was for symbolic reasons, not to boost their economy. Relying on such things, will only lead to a reduce in a sense of pride with no foundation of self-sufficiency, and that is always what we have lacked.

                  • Val

                    Reparations wouldn’t be White people giving up something. Reparations have been earned, long ago.

                    • Black people have earned far more than any reparations could ever be paid…however, in politics anything having to do with money that has lasting value is based on having leverage and maintaining it. Black people do not have the leverage to force the American government to pay reparations, and if they did, it wouldn’t really matter…and we wouldn’t be in the position that we are in.

                  • PunchDrunkLove

                    All I’m saying in short is that we DO need to “appear” respectable……for ourselves first and then before the rest of the world. We’re so busy saying we shouldn’t have to be this, that or he other in front of white folks that we are counterproductive in EVERYTHING we do as a race. It’s not before white folks, it’s because really we just need to be! We need to do better. White folks have all kinds of faults like black, but as a race we have issues. We can’t look over the fence into white folks backyard saying what we ain’t doing or shouldn’t cause they’re racist! What does that have to do with us trying to dispel the stigmas and stereotypes that are often applied to us? No one will EVER make me believe acting a fool and destroying and causing havoc is right because of foul cops. TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT.

                    My kid kinda wants have that Alleybat mentality too, that this generation seems to think is okay. And I tell her if you walk and live outside of structure and being constructive you gon have a hard time too, in your life like the rest of the heathens and alleybats that believe you produce crap life and the rest of the world should just eat it.

                    No we are not on stage performing for anyone, but we are watched by all. Just like we have our eyes on all other races, we make observations and comments and pass opinions. How different is what we say and observe about whites and all other races any different that what they say and observe about us? YES we should be respectable because our children are learning by example. My kid sees what most kids do no matter how backwards and think that how things go cause it’s what the majority does now.

                    I don’t care how “preachy” it comes off until and unless we do better, respect laws and be governed, honor God and not put him in the back of our lives (until something tragic happens or it’s time to die) we collectively will ALWAYS be on the bottom.

                    I couldn’t give a flying flip about white foks, but I do know is, they’re the ones sitting behind the desks in HR, and banks, they’re controlling capital. I serve God and whire folks ain’t controlling him. So yeah, he makes blessings come to fruition….but yeah gon head with we don’t need white folks and eff white folks. They control (not in my world….God controls my world) most resources. All they’re doing is shaking their heads at us.

                    • Yes, but are they in the positions they are in, because they are highly favored by God though? Since, basically what you’re saying is that success is granted to those who are religious, law-abiding and honorable to God. If that is true, and after all God is in control of everything, then logically speaking that could be the only rational conclusion, unless you’re saying Godly laws don’t apply to white people?

                      I’m pretty sure you don’t believe that; I’m also sure you’re quite aware that black people, on average are more Christian and religious than white folks. What I’m saying is religion might indeed help, but it is clearly not the factor that played a role in what we saw.

                      And for the record, not all white folks are shaking their heads…many are joining in on the party:
                      http://i60.tinypic.com/wgrxtz.jpg

                    • PunchDrunkLove

                      Now you’re splitting hairs…..and that I can’t do.

                      Nobody never said white folks or any race weren’t or aren’t guilty of many things….but our concern is black folks and how we need to get and do better.

                    • Actually, I disagree…that’s how we deceive ourselves.

                      Black people are at the core human beings, and the laws of human nature are universally applicable. If you say something affects black people because they act or think in a particular way, logic dictates that if another group of people replicate the same thing, they should arrive at the same result. This is why when we have conversations like this about black people, and always come up with a list of never ending problems, we have no groundings in reality to determine which of them are true or false.

                      So it’s not that I’m splitting hairs, I’m expanding your theory to show why it doesn’t answer the problem. And for the record, I’m not out here advocating crime or any of the things like that, I’m arguing about causes, not symptoms.

        • uniquebeauty79

          I agree with Enrique completely. That is the whole purpose of this post. How people get uncomfortable about that races perception of us.

          • Dutty Boukman

            Just a typical playbook of the brainwashed smh.

            • uniquebeauty79

              LMBO, whenever anyone uses the word brainwashed in reference to someone who simply has a difference of opinion, they immediately gets tuned out.

              • Dutty Boukman

                You already dismissed me, because of my opinion. So what’s your point?

                • uniquebeauty79

                  nothing to do with your opinion, more your choice of words when approaching me. that’s my point.

                  • Dutty Boukman

                    Fair enough.

          • Dutty Boukman

            Hence, why when someone says “stop killing each other” or any thing to call black people on bs, it’s called respectability politics. Do you get the concept?

            • Wild Cougar

              People who live within proximity and who are acquainted kill each other. Of every race. Do you have some proposal to end that phenomenon and get people to only kill strangers? That’s called war, but you could advocate for world peace. It seems like you think when Black people kill each other, that is a special problem. I live in a black neighborhood and nobody kills anybody. There are no trap houses, no assaults, not even burglaries. No crime. So maybe you should solve whatever the issue is with your neighborhood, because it’s not a Black issue, it’s a people issue and has nothing to do with me.

      • Question

        Agreed. But some people are parading around the notion that to be frustrated with Blacks who engage in violence during otherwise peaceful calls for change is somehow buying into respectability politics.

        Is it not possible to think both that respectability politics are bullshitake and that by looting our own communities we aren’t doing ourselves any favors??

        • Val

          Those are mighty high concepts for people who are getting murdered in the streets by police to consider. Don’t you think?

          • Question

            What are mighty high concepts – wanting to control, influence and change our communities?

        • PunchDrunkLove

          “….that by looting our own communities we aren’t doing ourselves any favors? And by favors, I’m not talking about public perception, but moreso whether these actions are in direct conflict with our desire for increased opportunity, sovereignty and change in our communities…”

          I don’t understand what people don’t understand. Seems simple enough

    • PunchDrunkLove

      And it ain’t acting white either…..if I might add!

      Applause, applause, applause! THIS (x 10).

      I.GET.THIS

    • ChiefbutnotA_Keef

      Here’s the thing, does anyone think of white people as savages when they start riots over black friday sales or fight for entitlements (aka WELFARE) in the EU? Why is there a difference in perception for the SAME behavior?

      Behavior is not the problem my dude, its the racist and prejudicial perception society has placed on us.

      • Dutty Boukman

        Yes, they are savages for that. But I don’t care about what they do. Because I already know the snakes have different standards than us. In just want to see us do better. There is a negative perception of us in the world perpetuated by the media, and we double down on it. If we want to fight theses snakes, we gotta be smarter than them. Killing and acting like this does not help our cause.

    • I see where you’re coming from. Social conservatism isn’t just a White thing. I get it.

      That said, I do think that playing to conservative mindsets reinforces racism inasmuch as it forecloses efforts to change society. If the traditional social order is fine, on what basis do you challenge police brutality? It’s a difficult position to rip out one thing in society while keeping everything else the same, particularly when it’s such a deep rooted experience.

      • Dutty Boukman

        I believe that’s the box they want you trapped in. Thinking that asking people to be above the bs is conservative mindsets. That’s BS. There’s not such thing as black and white, there’s a lot of grey areas. And ideals differ from and another. They try to make you think that liberals think only this way, and conservatives only think that. There’s positives and negative to traditional liberal and conservatives ideals. Why some may have more traditional social ideals, but don’t like the thought of gay rights (may be a bad example, but the only one I can think of on the fly). When some Blacks are dismissed by others because they have a different opinion, that causes dysfunction our communities. We gotta recognize that there’s benefits with adopting some traditional conservative and liberal ideals. If you haven’t notice, these two parties really don’t care about us, so why should we be loyal to one or the other? Police brutality needs to be addressed, because it’s alarming. Police brutality is a result of poverty, that doesn’t get addressed. We can strategize by valuing family structure, fiscal strategies, and less government. The same government that’s against you, is giving you entitlements that help struggling families. A lot of it is good. But it could be a detriment, because it makes you complacent, and relying on a government that could care less about you.

  • KB

    Saw a white lady comment, “MLK must be turning over in his grave at these people who are rioting and looting.” in regards to the events in Baltimore. Lady if you don’t go sit somewhere indian style, in the corner with those comments. White folks love to bring up MLK when discussing our people protesting against police brutality, but fail to mention that MLK was violently gunned down by a white man (or men depending on which conspiracy you believe). I’m going to need the Beckys and Toms of her ilk to go run along and enjoy their white privilege. We are fighting for our right to exist here!

    • Dutty Boukman

      So true. I hate when they say that. SMDH

      • KB

        Do they forget that MLK was labeled a communist, domestic terrorist, had his home bugged by the FBI, bombed by white Christians, and other such things? Though he preached non-violence, he was quite the radical.

        • Dutty Boukman

          Why you think he was killed? Because he was gonna go away from the whole non-violent stance. He was starting the see he was being played.

          • miles b

            look up one of his last speeches. he was talking about reparations.

    • pls

      white woman = becky
      white man = beck (since beyonce lost album of the year at the grammy’s)

      • heyheyno

        LMBO!!

    • Lol, amazing how comfortable mediocre white folks are in judging blacks against one of history’s greatest figures. You wonder if they judged themselves based on the scale of Benjamin Franklin or John Brown, if they wouldn’t be doing the world a favor by jumping off a bridge, at their ability to compete.

    • Corey Mayhew

      No conspiracy. U.S. Gvmt foung guilty, and admitted. Was an assassination point blank pperiod.

  • NomadaNare

    “They have been defeated, and they are attempting to survive within a world that has defeated them.”

    Yep. Probably one of the best things you’ve ever written on this site. Let’s also not forget that a Rev Dr. Martin Luther King was shot in the head hanging out on his balcony, before and after consecutive speeches espousing nonviolent resistance and to love our oppressors. If all it took was some patent leathers and a monkey suit, we would’ve solve this a long long time ago.

  • Yellow Tail

    Yes I do understand the looting and rioting and in the end it has caused America to take some notice at what’s going on in Baltimore. However, the reality is that the people that have real power just shake their heads, unphased and reaffirmed in their beliefs about how dangerous black people are while discussing the NHL playoffs. What good is destroying your own neighborhood and businesses going to solve? At least go elsewhere and destroy other people’s stuff.

    And the respectability politics is a bunch of BS. White people wont love us until we resemble Brazil and you can’t really tell who’s what. And I think we’ve all seen how messed up Brazil is from a racial perspective so I don’t see any light to this. However, if we had better leadership from a financial and educational perspective we can make white people respect us via our wealth. It’s always all about the money. Imagine how many problems could be solved in the hood if adults worked decent paying jobs with regular hours and benefits?

    • Wild Cougar

      Fear of Black rage is what makes the power wheels start to grind, not signs and peaceful protest. Don’t be fooled by the snake singing you to sleep.

      • Yellow Tail

        I completely agree that signs and peaceful protest are a waste of time. At least the violence turns some heads but in the end we’re just hurting ourselves the most, just to have people listen but not give a sheit about what we’re saying or fully understand because quite frankly they don’t have to.

        • Wild Cougar

          I think you underestimate the primal fear white people have of justice. They know they are way overdue for getting what they deserve. They will literally do anything to stop a united group of angry Black people who look like they are riled up enough to deliver justice. If a Black “leader” comes along and says I’ll calm the people down if you do x, you best believe x is gonna get done if the threat is imminent enough.

          • Yellow Tail

            I agree with this in terms of the police. If police know their cities will riot if they keep killing black people then maybe, just maybe they’ll think twice before they take out their guns. I don’t think the violence solves the other community ailments though.

            • Wild Cougar

              Don’t you know that MLK was successful because they were scared of Malcom and the Black Panthers? Without the threat of “by any means necessary” MLK is just a nice preacher. With it, he’s the voice of reason to those people who want to exact revenge. They didn’t pass the civil rights act out of the kindness of their hearts.

              • Yellow Tail

                “…a riot is the language of the unheard” – MLK. I agree that both were needed. We have the rioting now where’s the leadership?

                • Wild Cougar

                  Bills are being debated in the house and senate to address police brutality and abuse of power as we speak. I don’t think there would be as many or as much interest were out not for the Ferguson unrest.

                • Epsilonicus

                  The organizing is happening locally. That is never going to make the news though

              • Shay-d-Lady

                very interesting perspective… interesting indeed!

              • Deeds

                I’ve never thought about it that way…something to ponder.

  • I want Don Lemon to fall face first onto 10,000 sharpened spears. I pray for this on a daily basis.

    • AlwaysCC

      have you seen awesomely luvvie’s petty prayers for don lemon?? hilarious.

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