Dear Black on Black Bashers:
I don’t know what kind of voodoo witchcraft Stephen from Django Unchained conjured up, but there was something about the month of May that prompted several prominent Black figures to come together and clown their own people. I’m sick of it.
First, there was Will Smith, who told Haute Living magazine: “My style of parenting is very similar to that of my parents, minus the concept of ownership. I think that, specifically in African American households, the idea coming out of slavery, there’s a concept of your children being property and that was a major part that Jada and I released with our kids.”
What kind of yoga exercise must you learn to pull something so silly out of your butt? Has Fresh Prince Sr. never heard of a dowry? Why didn’t Professor Aunt Vivian 1.0 teach Willie From Philly some history? Parents of all races have a complicated and sometimes problematic approach to their role in their kids' lives; however, I don't think that slavery taught Black moms and dads en masse to think of their kids as little house and field Negroes present to do their bidding.
There are stupider comments, though. Say, Miguel’s assertion that Black people are the “most judgmental in the world.” Everyone is hyper critical of their own, sir, and you ought to be way more appreciative because until you get that “crossover” appeal you so desperately desire, it is Black folks keeping you afloat and it’ll be Black folks who stick around when the mainstream moves to the next.
However, May’s worst offenders are the Obamas for their ‘don’t be that kind of Negro’ themed speeches at the graduations of Bowie State University and Morehouse College, respectively.
Mrs. Obama claimed that “when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can't be bothered” before adding that these days, “Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they're sitting on couches for hours playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they're fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.”
With all due respect, FLOTUS, didn’t you tell People magazine last year that if you could trade places with anyone it’d be Beyoncé? So you can be Beyoncé, but some child can’t aspire to be a rapper? By the way, there are plenty of children out and about fighting for better schools in their community – including nine-year-old Asean Jackson, who is from your own city of Chicago, where your hubby’s former chief of staff initiated the largest mass public school closing in American history.
That leads me to President Obama, who said that in the past “sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you've learned over the last four years is that there's no longer any room for excuses.”
He went on to say that: “It's just that in today's hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven't earned.”
Well, we can’t all grow up with our white grandparents who put us in fancy private schools that set the proper path to the Ivy Leagues. Nor can we each get away with trying cocaine and weed. In fact, had Obama been caught smoking weed under his own drug policies, he wouldn’t be President Obama, he’d be Barry, that brilliant ex-con whose intellect can’t be exercised because no one will hire him.
Hell, a college degree alone can’t close the racial gap in hiring practices per past findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And we mustn’t forget that the likes of Abigail Fisher and her corporate-interests backed help are doing their part to decimate diversity programs altogether.
Where is President Obama on Rahm Emanuel shutting down all those schools in Black communities citing budget constraints though he’s found a way to fund college basketball arenas using public dollars? Speaking of education, China, India and Brazil are actually teaching their students to think critically versus merely test-taking. And when it comes to fighting poverty, Brazil is closing economic inequality at a faster rate than any other country largely because of their multibillion-dollar program in which they give money to those living in extreme poverty.
Yet, Mr. Personal Responsibility President is cutting social aid programs, and worse, still has the very people who helped cripple a generation of Black people via the foreclosure crisis continuing to shape economic policy. Obama is in the position of ushering in structural change to aid minorities suffering, but he’d rather scold us to the glee of select White liberals who wish they could say the same things out loud without repercussions.
I’m not aloof to the problems in our community and that we collectively ought to be proactive in fixing our issues. But, when we criticize each other context is key. So say everything or nothing at all.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where tough love is served with just a touch of shade. Tweet him at @youngsinick.