Friday, July 25, 2014

Authentically Black?

At a town hall meeting in Washington, D. C. President Obama rejected the what multiculturalism was doing to the African-American community.

Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I've worked, there's been the notion of 'acting white'—which sometimes is overstated, but there's an element of truth to it, where, okay, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there's some authentic way of being black, that if you're going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go. Because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African American men to be authentic.

Hopefully, his words will resonate.

If African-Americans are taught that they must reject any behaviors that signify whiteness, in order to be more authentically black, they are marginalizing themselves. If they choose to read less and to study less, in order to be more authentically black, they are hurting their own prospects. If they choose not to speak proper English, they are undermining their own futures.

If African-Americans underachieve, it isn’t all the fault of white racism. Obama did not call out multiculturalism in particular for the scourge that it is, but he was correct to tell his black constituents that they are hurting themselves by seeking out an authenticity that separates them from the larger American culture.


Dennis said...

There is one big problem with a "coat of many colors" and that is it tends to fray and come apart at the seams. Instead of becoming that "melting pot" that brought all the different cultures together and taking the best of each to define American culture we desire to eschew the benefits of being an American.
Until we stop being hyphenated individuals and become an American we will constantly be placing emphasis of out differences instead of what we have in common which always erects a barrier to communication and seeing everyone outside that group as the "other."
Politicians love the idea of us being competing groups because it is so much easier to control us. Sadly we have far more in common than we do otherwise. I am an American and only that and that is what we all are or we will die on the cross of enmity.

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't authenticity per se. We seek it in everything.

Surely even Jews don't want to totally assimilate into the gentile community. They want to cling to something authentically Jewish, be it religious, historical, or cultural.

When blacks sought to recover their roots and develop their own voice, that was a good thing. But in time, black 'authenticity' became marred by demagoguery, idiots like Sharpton and Jackson, ghetto attitudes, gangsta 'culture', politics of insipid rage, mob psychology, and scapegoating everyone else for what are authentically black problems.

It authentically became stupid and trashy.

Obama is really part of mulatto culture that is really distinct from black culture, and there are (not-so)subtle barriers between mulattoes and other blacks.

Lastango said...

Methinks he speaks with forked tongue.

On the one hand, he postures as being concerned about the wholesale collapse of black males.

On the other, he has done every possible thing he could to advance dependency culture.

That's SOP for Obama. Most recently, he was really, really concerned -- more concerned than even his critics -- about the flood of illegal migrants pouring over what used to be the southern border. He is demanding we fix this crisis!

Anonymous said...

What happens when the local urban melting pot combines Black Nationalism, victim politics, and gangsta culture? You get a fantasy world of separatist, subsidized lawlessness. You get Detroit.

The cumulative effect is that money isn't earned, it arrives magically, with little practical effort. Playing by the rules (like paying your water bill) is racist and unfair. People begin to believe that necessities are rights, simply because they are necessities. Young people believe that being a musical performer is real economic development: a reliable ticket to fame and riches. "Respect" loses all meaning, relegated to something from a mob movie and little else. Young men become predators, carjacking and impregnating.

This kind of social decay does not require a plurality or majority to take hold. It's the path of least resistance, which is human. Follow the money, look at who the popular kids are. What are they up to? And if you think this is a black phenomenon, thing again... read some of the statistics on whites aged 18-35. This has entered the cultural mainstream as a desirable lifestyle for the majority of the population, and it's not leveled off. Culture trumps everything, and changing it is a long, slow process.

People choose based on what they understand, and repeat those choices based on what works. For a great many people, the math tells them work is for suckers. Work is being divorced from manhood, dignity and freedom. Work becomes a distraction from the true purpose of life: amusement, novelty, entertainment, porn.

As long as having shootings, single parents, free food and minimal education works, and there are public figures who enable this kind of thinking, and a media culture that glorifies it, the madness will continue.

Bartender, a round of stiff hemlock for me and my friends, please!

Change will be an uphill climb, person by person, soul by soul. I'm glad Obama is saying something. If we're going to recover anything from his post-racial promise, he's going to have to do a lot more of it. That's worthwhile campaigning, in my book.