By Yvette Carnell (Photo credit: Gawker)
I tend to avoid statements like “all Black people are..” or “only Black people …” since I’m not into pathologizing Black behavior. People are people, and although there are many influencers of human behavior–such as culture and policies–pigment is not one of them.
Having said that, an article up at Gawker about the pseudo-protest by L.A. Clippers over racist comments made owner Don Sterling did make some points which deserve more attention. Much of the article focused on the decision of players to pretend that wearing their warm ups inside out was a significant protest, but then the writer goes further:
It’s almost as if people have forgotten that struggle includes struggling. You might have to lose your job. You might have to lose your life. That’s what it takes for change to happen. There’s no easy way to do this. If you’re scared to stand up for yourself, for whatever reason, all I ask is that you stop pretending. Stop with the Facebook posts. Stop with the meaningless conversations. Just stop. Be honest. About how you behave. About your part in all this madness. About what you are. A coward. Just a coward. No need to put on an act for the rest of us. We can all see right through each other.
And I don’t think the writer is essentializing Black behavior as much as he’s questioning what we can and cannot afford to allow at this juncture in history:
I don’t really think Black people are cowards. I think humans are cowards. Most of us. I think that regardless of where one’s phenotype places them within the imaginary concept of race, that the majority of us are content to live on our knees rather than die on our feet. The problem is, we, us, Black people, can’t afford to be like everyone else anymore. Not if we want to survive. I don’t know how we got here, but everywhere you look we’re at the bottom of the global totem pole.
Not to say that this essay isn’t without its flaws, but I agree with this. I was having this conversation last night. In David Remnick’s recent New Yorker essay about Pres. Obama, he questioned why investors and other Wall Street types had turned on Obama, considering their earnings were way up. I found it laugh out loud funny that Remnick couldn’t answer his own question. Wall Street big wig types ruthlessly wield power every day and know enough to know that Obama doesn’t have any. And it’s not just Obama. Nobody’s afraid of us … and it’s not because we’re marginalized. It’s because when it comes down to it, we’re unwilling to put it all on the line. We’ll allow you to abuse us, then we’ll pray for you, dust ourselves off, and move on. Cowards.