Diagnosing the New Negro

Diagnosing the New Negro

Five signs you have a clueless, colorblind Black Person in your circle [OPINION]

by Terrence Chappell, December 31, 2015

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Diagnosing the New Negro

Don Lemon

Is a daily migraine getting you down?

Do you wake up in cold sweats…confused?



Does your stomach churn, despite the fact that you ate right?

These aren’t symptoms of the flu or food poisoning. Far worse, you might be friends with a New Negro. Ya know, the Black person who uses the #AllLivesMatter hash tag. The one that relies on words like “all-inclusive” when talking about racism (assuming they believe in it). I’ll delve into that later, but the New Negro didn’t always have color blinders on.

Coined by American writer and philosopher Alain Leroy Locke during the Harlem Renaissance, historically the term “New Negro” was defined by Black people’s “active refusal to obey Jim Crow-era laws post World War I” and post Reconstruction.  According to Locke, because Blacks experienced less discrimination while fighting in France during World War I, this was one of the catalysts that breathed self-confidence, assertiveness, and militancy into the Black community.

In other words, Black folks were reminded of their humanity and advocated for its recognition. This was the pillar of the New Negro Movement during the 1920s, which demanded equality across politics, education, class, and stronger desegregation efforts.

My, my how today’s New Negro has fallen from history as Locke does somersaults in his grave. 

There ain’t nothing militant or active about today’s specimen. Mainly because these clueless individuals truly believe we’re living in a post-racial society. The New Negro subscribes to respectability politics better than a clown performs at the circus. Their detrimental political philosophy is only outdone by their delusional beliefs that everyone is already equal. At the end of the day, you’re still a n***** in the eyes of racist people and ain’t no damn degree, salary, Brooke’s Brothers’ office suit or church dress is going to change that.

Just because Black people share skin color with New Negroes does not mean they share our ideologies. The New Negro’s vantage point is one that is so willfully blind and mistakenly optimistic that it actually ends up contributing to a racist system. The only thing blissful about the ignorance of today’s New Negro is how far in life they managed to make it without getting shot. Remember momma use to say, “You can’t do the same things they do.” The New Negro needs to take heed to that philosophy. It's the only way that we may be able to "do the things that white people do." 

So, with the New Year approaching, I think it’s time we snatch the tag off today’s New Negro. In no prioritized order, I decided to provide a quiz on five of many key qualities to look for in a friend or acquaintance who you suspect is a New Negro. If someone in your circle is a “yes” when it comes to all of these statements below, then free yourself RIGHT NOW.

They Only See The "Human" Race

Sweetie, you don’t have the privilege to only see the human race. Are we all humans? Of course! Should we all be treated like humans? Absolutely! But are we all treated like humans? Hell to the no! I’ll never forget about my humanity for others, even in light of racism, but that doesn’t mean I dress the world up in “Because I’m happy” songs and accessorize it with a lack of awareness. Stay woke.

They Collect and Drink White Tears

You know what I can’t stand more than racism? A New Negro who will tap dance to please their oppressor. There can only be one Bojangles, and he passed away in 1949. I get it. Being Black can sometimes be exhausting. But compliance and assimilation aren’t viable solutions. While most of us feel that we should force mainstream society to see its failures and shortcomings around race, the New Negro; they will cry and whine about why the majority won’t  accept them…um… like they don’t see they’re a Negro, and a brand new one at that. So, similar to White tears, the New Negro’s tears are distilled with good intentions, but lack any sort of concrete comprehension. My suggestion is to urge them to stick their noses in the corner and read a Frederick Douglass book…all of em.

They Think Fellow New Negroes are Cutting-edge

“That Don Lemon really has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on.”

“Raven-Symone truly is the voice of millennials.”

This type of "real talk" only comes from fellow New Negroes. It's not a complete surprise that New Negroes admire their famous peers when they see them on TV. It’s like Hollywood and TV has a clown car full of New Negroes, and you never know which one is going to pop out next. “Racism is rare." Really, Will Smith…really? I’ll never look at Fresh Prince of Bel Air the same. And the more recent of Lupe Fiasco coined #ThanksWhitePeople hash tag coonpaign, which says to the world behind every great Black man is a White man. Again, right sentiment, misplaced tactic. We hope he is kidding.

They Vote Against Themselves

To be fair, New Negroes aren’t the only people who vote against themselves. Caitlyn Jenner is still voting like she’s a rich, white man instead of a transgender woman. And the food stamp capital, Owsley County, KY, is white and republican, even though the GOP drastically cut funding for the food stamp program in that state. Then you have these Negro cartoon characters praising Donald Trump.

Voting against yourself is nothing novel for idiots of all races and classes. Personally, I’ve never been one to just vote Democrat "just because," or brand all Republicans as evil racists, but I’m a firm believer in voting to protect the greater good of a society’s most at-risk populations. And if you’re anything other than a rich, white man, you’re included in those at-risk populations. So, when I catch wind of New Negroes voting against themselves, I just want to point them to Amistad because they’re about two aimless votes from being in shackles.

They Never Get Angry  

James A. Baldwin moved the needle on what it means to be Black in America when he said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a constant state of rage.”

I’m always very perplexed when I see happy-go-lucky, unconscious and unaware New Negroes. I’m not saying they have to pop off on everything to everybody, but where’s the emotion? Another police brutality case involving the shooting death of a Black body? All smiles from the New Negro. Nine shot dead in a church in South Carolina? No complaints from the New Negro. Congress just passed a vote to reinstate slavery? I guess that’s just life according to the New Negro. Are we reading the same headlines? I’m not advocating for aimless anger, but anger can by a very useful tool. It was anger that sparked the Civil Rights Movement. It was anger that propelled students from my Alma mater, Mizzou, to strike.  It was anger that got all of us this far in life. Hell, this country was colonized by anger. Even Jesus flipped a table once. But of course the New Negro isn’t angry because what’s there to be angry about in their eyes? I wish they’d all drown in White people tears.

Terrence Chappell surfaced on Chicago’s media scene as UR Chicago Magazine Online’s fashion editor. Since then, he has worked and contributed to various media outlets such as Michigan Ave. Magazine, CS Magazine, and The Men’s Book. Currently, Terrence serves as the editor-at-large for ChicagoPride.com, the city’s largest LGBT entertainment and news website where he writes “Chappell Confidential,” a nightlife and society column. Terrence also heads “Chappell on Community,” the site’s newest editorial monthly series that profiles the LGBT community’s most innovative leaders.



 

 





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