Sunday, April 17, 2016

Field Negro 101.

A friend of mine who happens to be a fine attorney has a radio program here in Philly.

This past Saturday I was on with her and her wonderful crew talking about this election season, and after the show I started chopping it up with the host and a couple of her producers.

Anyway, something one of the younger producers said made me realize that I haven't done my Field Negro 101 post in some time.

So here goes:

*(Note. I  posted this back in 2006.)

I am always amused at how sensitive some blacks----particularly black conservatives get when you talk about the house Negro field Negro dichotomy among black folks. Black conservatives are always quick to lash out at the house Negro moniker as if it's directed at them. They see it as a straw  man and red herring set up to distract from the real issues confronting black America.

Well it's not. The moniker is one that was created by Malcolm X in one of his more famous speeches to make a point about certain blacks not giving their all to the movement because of their so called stake in America. That speech is so inspiring and so on point, that it is from where I find the inspiration- not to mention the name- for this blog. I use it because I think it's still relevant for today's discourse in matters of race, as well as the black political movement in this country.

When I post on other blogs I always use the handle The Field-Negro, and the vitriolic responses I get for my handle alone -from whites and blacks- is at times frightening. "Why must you use that handle?It's so degrading to blacks."Shame on you for such a despicable handle". "You embarrass yourself and all self respecting black people by using such a handle". And on and on it goes. This is just from the black folks. You can imagine what I get from my fellow white bloggers on the web; or, for that matter, the fringes of the web. 

But, once again, I would like to set the record straight about this house Negro field Negro metaphor(and yes it's just a metaphor) and where I stand on this issue. Think of this post as Field Negro 101 for your self improvement.

First, being a house Negro has nothing to do with how you look, how much money you have, where you live, or, for that matter, where you work. The same can be said about being a field Negro. It's not about how radical you think you are or how militant or African you may appear in your features.

It's why I explain my background in detail to all who come to my blog. It's important to understand that in spite of my upbringing and background, I am firmly entrenched in the fields. It's not about my credentials or how I grew up, or even what privileges were afforded to me. Rather, it's about my state of mind at this point in time, and how I choose to engage in the struggle to uplift black people in modern day America.

For instance, I consider wealthy people such as Bill Cosby and Denzel Washington field Negroes. On the other hand, I consider some not so wealthy people, such as Jessie Lee Peterson and La Shawn Barber; house Negroes. I consider certain sports icons such as Jim Brown, Magic Johnson, and Muhammad Ali, field Negroes. But I consider icons such as Michael Jordon, O.J. Simpson, and George Foreman, house Negroes. Oprah Winfrey, in my book, is a house Negro; while her good friend, Maya Angelo, belongs in the fields. Jessie Jackson (yes, that Jessie Jackson) is a house Negro, but John Lewis, the congressman from Georgia, is a field Negro. In terms of appearance, the very dark Clarence Thomas should have his picture in the dictionary beside house Negro, while the fairer skinned Thurgood Marhsall was a big time field Negro. Get the point? It's all about who I think is contributing to the cause of advancing black issues in the right way.

Now let's look at this phenomenon literally for a moment: I have no problem with someone living in the house, and wanting the things the house offers for his or her family: The better schools; the safer neighborhoods; and a better quality of life. Only a fool would think otherwise. I don't even have a problem with the house Negro running to put out the fire if massa's house catches on fire, or, for that matter, if he tries to save massa's life. After all, if massa and his house are gone, where is the house Negro going to live, and who is going to hire him to work? On the other hand, I do have a problem if the house Negro tries to save massa before his own. That type of house Negro is a problem, and he is the one I speak so disparagingly of when I make fun of the house Negro.

Unfortunately, as Malcolm said, there are still a lot of house Negroes like the latter around today. They are the ones who write the books for massa's ears only, kicking black folks harder than massa would ever kick us by telling us how bad we are. They are the ones -insert Thomas Sowell here- who write about America and her problems, as if the white man is blameless, and we, black folks, brought all the problems on ourselves. They are the ones-insert Clarence Thomas here- who are not only too happy to work in the house with massa, but wish that they were a part of massa's family as well. That is the dangerous house Negro; the self hater, the one  who will do anything to be more white than the white person himself, because just working and living in the house is not good enough for him. That house Negro wants a stake in massa's house, and he will sell the rest of us out to get it.

I will give you an example: I have a black colleague who does very well for himself and his family. He recently purchased a home in a very affluent predominantly white neighborhood, and has from time to time bragged of being the only black in his development. Now this individual is a classic house Negro. And living in his all white subdivision didn't make him one, but being proud that he is the only black in said subdivision does. Like the "house nigger" in Malcolm X' s speech, he was proud to be the only Negro living among the whites. This is the inclination and fixed way of thinking of an individual who has fled from his people and would not mind if he never sees a black neighborhood or anything associated with black people again. This Negro didn't flee to white suburbia for better schools, safer neighborhoods, and cost effectiveness. Nope, this Negro fled to white suburbia because he wanted to be around massa and his house. This house Negro is the one I refer to when I make my lists, and speak of when I try to point out the Negroes that are holding us back by projecting to white folks-insert Oprah here- a false image of what black folks are going through. The field Negro, given the same circumstances, would find himself going back to the old neighborhood, volunteering his time, and helping when and where he can. He would not care about how many other Negroes lived in his development, as long as his family was receiving the benefits I outlined above.

So for all of you who see the handle, and wonder why The Field Negro, think about that for a minute. Think about what makes a field Negro: Hard worker, cares about his family and his race, always with the masses so he knows what it will take to improve our plight, understands that it will take more than just talk to make things happen. And finally, that the house is not his, and ultimately he will have to build his own.

That, my friends, is the essence of the field Negro, and that is who every Negro should strive to become.

*Watch the speech here.


PilotX said...

Do you still consider Jessie Jackson a house negro? As a Chicago kid we listened to his radio show every Saturday and I really got a lot from it. He began his career in Chicago by setting up Operation Breadbasket which helped many folks through the years, yeah I'm biased because my grandmother worked with his group. Rev. Jackson has done more for blah folks than almost anyone alive. Just reconsider.

PilotX said...

Also check out the Weather Channel's show Weather Geeks from today. My buddy was on. He developed a new technique for forecasting tornadic conditions weeks out vice just days. Very interesting. Also the show is hosted by the brilliant brotha Dr. Marshall Shepard who just happens to be my frat bro. Ha! Your wingnut trolls may not want to watch because both of these gents have PhD's in atmospheric science and are proponents of AGW. Heh heh.

lilacpr2000 said...

Ben Carson is house...he thinks by saying he wanted to cut his mother,that makes him field! Can u believe the ig'nance???! 0-O

Halle Berry, always marrying those white,blue-eyed boys.

Wendy kinda house too...

I have a cousin that's house! omg he's sooo house! Lord!

Jesse is not house! He was always out there representing, he's just old and tired nowadays, we all are xD

Don Lemon...mmmmm, he tries not to be, but...yeah...but he does try though. Maybe someday...

Yisheng said...

Oprah Winfrey isn't a house negro by ANY stretch!

The Ministry of Truth said...

I'm sure part of the furor with this terminology is how you're defining it.

Are you calling people "House" who have the same goals as you, but simply disagree on the methods?

Are you calling people "House" who aren't particularly interested in politics, but just want to get on in life? There's a difference between black people who are not particularly working towards "black uplift" -- everybody isn't cut out to be an activist -- versus people who are trashing other black people with unfair criticism (the Uncle Ruckus/Stacie Dash types).

I don't really see Oprah as spending a lot of time demonizing black people. She's not aggressively invested in specifically black causes, though she's generally supportive of liberal politics that mostly benefit the black community.

The Ministry of Truth said...

@ Lilac

I am not convinced that Don Lemon is some sort of sell-out. I hear black people say this, but when you look at the whole of his career, Don says a lot of crazy stuff, not just about black people.

I mean, he caught flak for questions he asked one of Bill Cosby's rape accusers. He suggested that the woman couldn't have been raped because she had given Cosby head, so why didn't she bite his cock off. WTF? He thought this was a serious question?

I think people need to consider the possibility that Don is ... just kinda dumb.

lilacpr2000 said...

Yeah I know about Don, that's what I mean, I've heard him talking real field too, so yeah...maybe he is just kinda dumb xD

But that's a great point though about giving the head! Whadayamean WTF? Why DIDN'T she bite it off? I mean if, well I guess if he forced them at gun or knife point...but..they said they were wtf? How can u be drugged,asleep...and give head? Dayum those girls talented! xD I dunno that whole Cosby thing...crazy!

But there's a house I forgot, Cosby! :)

The Ministry of Truth said...

"But that's a great point though about giving the head! Whadayamean WTF? Why DIDN'T she bite it off? I mean if, well I guess if he forced them at gun or knife point...but..they said they were wtf?"

Well, I don't think all of them were drugged. And keep in mind that these rapes were supposed to have occurred decades ago, not now when Cosby's an old man. Back then, he could have overpowered them.

Anyway, if you're not willing to bite a dude's cock off, then you deserve to get raped? Seems like an unfair standard to me. Just saying.

Aardvark said...

Yisheng wouldn't know a house negro if one came up and slapped her flabby ass.

Anonymous said...

Oprah definitely is not a role model.

Ralph said...

Malcolm X was born in 1925. Donald Trump was born in 1946. They were living on the same planet for 20 years!

Yisheng said...

Yisheng wouldn't know a house negro if one came up

Dear Roach,

You wouldn't know a normal life because I AM YOUR LIFE!!!

You wouldn't know an education if I bitched slapped you with a set of Britannica encyclopedias. Drop out!!

You wouldn't know a relationship if your pimp didn't bed you.

And you wouldn't be my stalker if I wasn't a successful, highly educated Black woman with a FAR better life than you'll EVER have!

MUAH MUAH MUAH!! Topped with a dating game kiss!!

PS you're like a roach, you'll be my personal stalker for ever!!

Yisheng said...

Oprah hasn't just given a LOT to Black Americans, she's given a lot to Black people, certainly more than ANY other Black person in recent history.

By Field's rather stringent definition of Field negro, there are NO field negros!

Yisheng said...

Don Lemon IS a Field negro IMHO.

A person's commitment to the Black community isn't defined by one single act or slip up. It should be measured by the totality of their deeds.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is on the opposite side of the race fence, I think I agree with the overall point of the post. You can make an argument that we should all favor our own groups and hope that a compromise is reached by equilibrium you reach via political pressure.

I can see how FN would be as outraged by certain behaviors as I might by, say, Tim Wise. There's a certain falseness you acquire by switching sides.

One side effect of heterogeneous populations will tend to be a need for more government control to keep the lid on, but there's nothing new there.

Make America Great Again said...

"Think about what makes a field Negro: Hard worker, cares about his family and his race, always with the masses so he knows what it will take to improve our plight, understands that it will take more than just talk to make things happen. And finally, that the house is not his, and ultimately he will have to build his own. "

Field forgot to include jiggying for his Democrat massa, lying,ignoring facts when they don't support his narrative, and promoting racial hoaxes. Field also forgets failing to hold his Democrat massa to the same standards he holds people he would never support or vote for.

Field is nothing more than a racial demagogue who uses racial paranoia to keep blacks on the Democrat plantation and field attacks any black brave enough to put plantation life behind him/her and think on their own. Field is a poor mans Jesse and Al.

Maybe field can talk about being a chump for the Democrat party next post.

Mr. Chang said...

HA! Makes sense roaches would be stalking yishengcow.They find a cool,dark home in her weave and between her rolls of fat. Maybe taking a shower and washing her weave will help.

Unfortunately, nothing can help her be smart like Asians. HA!

Spook in a Kmart suit said...

HA! Makes sense roaches would be stalking my mammy.They find a cool,dark home between her rolls of neck and back fat. Maybe taking a shower and washing her back hair will help.

Unfortunately, nothing can help me be smart like other Asians and Yisheng. HA!

Aardvark said...

Yisheng, how does it feel to go through life as ignorant as you are?

Limpbaugh said...

I don't know of much to disagree with with the 2006 classifications. I would probably rate Clarence Thomas as a slave catcher though. And I thought Bill Cosby telling black kids to act white was house before the other scandals were publicized. I have known people who don't want to work hard to make the white massa rich and people who work hard to be successful while standing up for what is right and never compromising their principles. Both are field. I couldn't agree more with Field's description of that.

And people can change. If the classifications can apply to white people, Howard Dean is an example of someone who went from the field into the house. The corporate media massa whipped him for threatening to break them up and now he is a lobbyist for the health care industry massa. John Lewis seems to be making that same move too. Hillary Clinton exemplifies why the government doesn't negotiate whole prices for pharmaceuticals, cut out the insurance company middle men from healthcare costs. or arrest wall street bankers. She exemplifies having wars to steal oil and sell weapons. She gets support from politicians and media personalities who want to get in good with her. She is one of their massas. John Lewis was a great Representative and a civil rights hero. Just like John McCain was a war hero. You can't take that away from them. But Lewis' deceptively worded statements about Bernie Sanders showed that he wants to go into the house.

Raid said...

Roach at 1:15, how does it feel knowing that Yisheng's education and success, makes you an obsessive nincompoop?

lilacpr2000 said...

In case the island is hit by those earthquakes, which we are very close ya know, goodbye and remember I loved y'all! xD

Goooooddddd bbbyyyyeeee!

Shake, rattle and roll! :)

field negro said...

Fair point, Doc. This post was done in 2006. Oprah has moved fron the house to the patio IMHO.

James Pitcherella said...

We have a solid house negro in Chester County, PA County Commissioner Terence Farrell.
Back in 2008 Chester County Republican election strategy was to keep students at Lincoln University from voting for Barack Obama. Chester County Commissioner & Election Commissioner Terence Farrell had the polling place moved from Lincoln University to a tiny, tiny building between an operating railroad and a busy highway. Chester County Commissioner & Voting Commissioner Carol Aichele voted along with Terence Farrell to make the change effective. The Democratic Commissioner and Voting Commissioner Kathy Cozzone voted against the move.
It was the Chester County Republican Party’s way of preventing Lincoln University students from voting for Barack Obama in 2008.
"In predominantly white Chester County, Pa., Lower Oxford East Township contains the largest concentration of African-American voters, largely because of Lincoln University, one of the oldest historically African-American universities in the country.

The township made national news following the 2008 presidential election, when some voters were forced to wait literally all day in pouring rain in order to vote. Many voters had to leave without casting their votes, disenfranchised by inadequate polling facilities. Despite numerous warnings before the election that the cramped polling place would cause problems, the County Board of Elections had refused to change the location of the polling place – a tiny community center that could accommodate only two lines of voters, a small number of privacy booths, and a single ballot scanner. And even after the 2008 fiasco, the Board of Elections rejected a petition to move the polling place to the campus of Lincoln University, where it had previously been located for years.”
There is a video at the polls in this post:

field negro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
field negro said...

James, thanks for reminding me abt that story.Yes, that is a classic case of a HN.

field negro said...

If Bill Cosby's alleged crimes are true, he has moved from the fields to the House.

field negro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Shadow Knows... said...

And excellent critique Field, breaking down the differences between the House Negro and the Field Negro.

Recently I debated a black woman on the Internet who described herself as a conservative with Christian values.

As it turns out, she used these supposed values to spew her own hatred towards, not only members of her own race, but the LGBT community, whom she believed were enemies of God, inclusive of those who supported same-sex marriages, especially our president.

Using your taxonomy, I'd say she's a House Negro. And given the fervor with which she held to her position, I'd say she's a lost cause, and will remain a House Negro for life, although it's not impossible for House Negroes to install themselves in the field, and set about plowing--overturning--the status quo, planting new ideas, and harvesting their good works.

field negro said...

Shadow, she helped in the building of the house. :)

field negro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wait, Bill Cosby? Really?

PilotX said...

Now Bill's jokes about spanish fly back in the day don't seem so funny now. I guess dude was always a freak.

field negro said...

2006 anon@12:46. 2006!!!

Pilot, you're right. All that talk about personal responsibility. Now what?

Anonymous said...

I see no hope for black /white race relations in America, as a white American I do not obsess about race, Blacks on the other hand even catorigize their own members,. Everything revolves around race, everything that goes wrong is because of whites, In my opinion integration has been a dismal failure. Racial animosity is worse now than when I supported the movements of the 1960's. there may be more opportunities available, but the psychology is worse. I would like if the black community would just get to the point, what is it that you want. I am a third generation immigrant, it takes generations of hard work, strong family for people to be successful. I sometimes get the impression that envy of what whites have in general is part of the problem, Intact families are required for success, as white families disintegrate, their success goes down. Politically there are many who want to use this situation to create dependency and servitude. not just for blacks but for everyone. I would very much like to put my name to this, but I will not as I would expect to be called a racist , a bigot and all the other adjectives that would be associated with a discussion that does not conform to political correctness.

Ben Kuxhouse said...

Things are words for black people today than they were before 1965. The Liberals AKA Communists have destroyed the black family. Black people just happened to be the first group to be completely destroyed by the Liberals they're trying to destroy everybody. White out-of-wedlock birth rate 1965 was under 10% now its 30%. It will probably go up in the next census. the left here wants to make us like Europe, where the government has replaced the family. Nobody gets married the government providing and the state is Almighty all-powerful all caring.