I am doing a mostly cut and paste job tonight because I think the post I am going to feature is very important to the discourse among black folks here in A-merry-ca. I like the fact that black thinkers are writing about where we are as a people, and how we can move forward to improve our condition.
The post is from Devona Walker over at the fine African American web site known as "The Loop". The author is concerned about the mindset of black conservatives and she writes in a thoughtful reasoned manner. It's why I wanted to post her essay and comment on her views about an important aspect of her thesis.
"We are born to a race, to a family, and that does not pre-determine how or what we think, act or believe. With that said, there is something very suspicious about many Black conservaties whose ideas I read about, and whose faces I see — often on Fox News— giving racial cover to white conservatives to go after other average Black folks or political leaders. They are so routinely paraded before us, despite the fact that they make up such a very small minority of Black political thought, it makes me wonder if it is intentional. They might not be intentionally trying to sell out Black people, but they often appear to be used in that way. And they certainly don't seem to mind.
Even though I fully understand we are not a monolithic people, in watching them, I can't help often wondering if they are sellouts, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or just patently unconcerned with the plight of Black people?
This below clip really drives it home. [the clip is in the last link provided] We have former Vice President Dick Cheney essentially calling President Obama a traitor. And here we have a Black man excusing Cheney’s outlandish actions. Once again, a Black man providing cover for a white man as he goes for the jugular of another Black man. In this case, it's particularly concerning because Cheney is intentionally trying to characterize the president as illegitimate, and therefore nearly condoning violence."
So far so good, right? I can't disagree with anything she said so far. But then....
"House Negro vs. Field Negro
There is the whole house v. field negro dynamic that we often use to define folks like this. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. I do not want to be defined today by something that happened in our collective history, especially if it is not useful. We do not appear to use this historical identification in any productive way, as a means to measure our progress (which is how Obama generally references the black experience) or as a means of motivation (which is something that Colin Powell has done quite eloquently).
If you consider the difference between the Black and Jewish experience, it does make you wonder how our collective identity affects our ability to rise above adversity. Jewish people tend to use their history and cement that history of oppression through religious ceremony and customs, much like the Black community does. But it appears to be something that binds them as a people yet motivates them as individuals.
I know there are huge differences between the Black and Jewish experience, and comparing the Black experience with the immigrant experience as well. Many of those non-Black minorities came to this country as tradespeople. They often represent the most entrepreneurial of their people, the ones who would venture to another country to claim their fortunes.
But I must admit that as a people we have historically appeared to use our history as a “collective grief.” We have, at times, nurtured that grief. Even now, we continue to use our historical framing as a way of discrediting folks who look like us but do not think like us. And much of this rhetoric has, especially among younger Black Americans, become irrelevant.
So the premise of the Black conservative is reasonable. There is something to be said about this “Get over it,” mantra." [ More here.]
Since I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this subject, this part of her essay really got my attention.
First, the only thing that I can say about the "Get over it mantra" is that it's a false construct. Contrary to what the author and black conservatives like to say; progressive black folks don't go around crying "woe is me". We are way too busy trying to put in the work that's needed to better our lives and our community. Just as she suggests that the house Negro/field Negro mantra is "not useful" and, as she says, is something that she is "tired" of. I would suggest to her that I am tired of the false label of victimologist [don't look for that word anywhere, you won't find it] as well.
And with all due respect to the author, the field Negro house Negro "dynamic" is not "history", it is still happening today. (Hell she talked about some -house Negroes- in the first part of her essay.) And it's still a dichotomy that is worth exploring and trying to understand.
I would even argue that the house Negro today is worse than the house Negro that lived on the plantations during slavery. At least those Negroes would tell the field slaves, from time to time, what massa was up to, and they would even slip them food and supplies from out of the big house to the slave quarters. These modern day house Negroes (you know who you are) would never share with those they consider fields slaves. They would never do anything to help them or teach them to try and uplift their condition. In fact, they are embarrassed by them, and they like to tell their modern day massa that they are nothing like those Negroes, they are different.
Finally, she uses the Jewish people (Happy Chanukah to my my Jewish friends.) as the model black folks should use to better their condition. But that would be impossible given the inimitable nature of the Jewish experience. The Jewish religion is over three thousand years old, and it is probably the oldest monotheistic religion known to man. Black people in A-merry-ca have no religion other than the one that was given to us when we got here. Our religious history doesn't motivate us as individuals, because it was used to pacify us and keep us on the plantation.
So sorry Devona, there is nothing "reasonable" about the "premise of the black conservative". It is a tired monologue rooted in selfishness and a false sense of patriotism that only he-the conservative- can understand.
Still, overall I loved the essay, I agree with lines like the following:
"The race and class debate is not about offering an image of an oppressed people who are without fault, it is about solving issues and about understanding the full context into which many oppressed people are born and must rise above. Black conservatives, much like their white counterparts, offer no solutions. It would seem their proclamations are simply meant as a way to unburden themselves from caring. "
Well said, now let's see if our conservative friends agree with you.
*Pic courtesy of BTX3's Blog.