When a certain cohort of Black celebrities attain class privilege, they turn into New Blacks. The term coined by Pharrell, is an old concept in 21st century window dressing. New Blackery is respectability politics magnified by the coveted access, resources, and luxuries that a large bank account brings. With an elevated class status, New Blacks forget the lens by which lower and middle class Black people view racism and race relations because such a lens doesn’t help their brand or bottom line.
When we see a dead Black body laid in the street for over four and half hours, we see a tradition of racist oppression, in which Black bodies are targeted, captured, and killed by a network of institutional racism every 28 hours … not a bully. To us, bullies are those members of law enforcement, vigilantes, and their barely-guised racist supporters who, collectively, uphold these racist systems by justifying deadly behavior by those in authority.
To us, bullies are police units that rely on broken windows policing to reinforce racist oppression, embolden the racial caste system, and ultimately invigorate the prison industry and criminal justice behemoth.
Unlike Kanye West, we do not believe racism is a “dated concept,” or that “classism is the new racism” … because racism is still the new racism. Racism and classism are intricately linked, and — unlike Kanye’s shortsighted views that those oppressive systems are different — there’s enough scholarship that exposes the overlapping layers.
Hell, the Ferguson DOJ report detailed how race and class connect in that municipal units target Black folk in order to generate revenue for the locale. In doing so, Black people are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty as substantial fines are leveraged for the most minor offenses.
We don’t believe racism dies when Black people extend a loving hand to white people, as Common seems to believe. His perspective is odd considering his impressive involvement with Selma, and legacy as a socially conscious pro-Black lyrical storyteller. Even he’s not immune to New Blackery.
— April (@ReignOfApril) March 17, 2015
New Blackery is getting more shameful in respectability. Raven-Symoné went on national television and defended the reporter who said that First Lady Michelle Obama looks like a cast member of The Planet of the Apes. Raven-Symoné denied the obvious racist overtones by saying “some people just look like animals,” and then compared herself to a bird. Wow. Self-hate is so sad.
And then there’s the use of the N-word, always a controversial element of New Blackery. Terrence Howard threw his respectable hat in the ring when he said he allows his white friends to use it around him because hey, “it’s just a noun.” Never mind the violent relationship that’s immediately reignited when the N-word is uttered from a white person’s lips. Never mind the intrinsic shift in power that relegates Black folk to the underclass when the N-word is spoken from the mouth of white privilege.
New Blackery is shamefully frustrating because of the durable class element. Black celebrities have large credible platforms, and their words reach the masses. Whether they want to be or not, they are representatives of the Black community, and when their words go against our racial and cultural principles of Blackness, it’s us — grassroots Black folk — that deal with the consequences of their ignorance.
It is us who have to defend against white people who say that they’re colorblind and post-racial, and the next great frontier is class equity. It is us who have to expend the emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical labor defending Black people who are murdered by cops. It is us who have to demand justice in an oppressive society dominated by white people who have little incentive to destroy the racial caste system from which they benefit.
New Blackery is selfish. We bare the brunt of their irresponsible foolishness while they profit from whitewashed assimilation.
*Featured Image Credit: www.noisy.vice.com