Friday, September 11, 2015

Race Issues Part 2 Black on Black Crime: The bourgeois Edition

If you Google black on black crime you'll be bombarded by statistics detailing inner city violence, pictures of chalk outlines and countless stories about the lives that have been destroyed. What you won't find are many stories chronicling the way some inside the black bourgeois are attacking poorer and less educated blacks. This form of black on black crime is often overlooked by many, but exploited by those who seek to validate the criminalization of  blacks. The most tasteless form of these attacks are levelled by "elites" who seek to distance themselves from the negative imagery associated with black life. In Lacanian terms this is symbolic castration. They (the black bourgeois) seek to separate themselves from stereotypes associated with their black skin.   

Every ethnic group has distinctions that can be used to create artificial hierarchies. Historically, the black community has used skin pigmentation, hair texture, and even eye color as in-group out-group signifiers. In sociological terms this is called colorism. Many of these distinctions have roots in slavery where light skin and straight hair were favored. The wealth and status gains made by blacks in the last half of the 20th century have provided another layer of distinction for those looking to embrace a false sense of superiority. 

As a teenager Spike Lee's movie School Daze opened my eyes to the various rifts that exist in the black community. There were two dominant forms of black on black crime  in School Daze. The first type was class based between the locals (who were often depicted as envious and jealous) and the students (who were mostly depicted as entitled and pretentious). The second type was race based between the dark skinned Pan-African students (depicted as militant and angry) and the light skinned fraternity brothers (depicted as fake and sellouts). 

In the 25 plus years since School Daze was released the psychological warfare between segmented groups inside the black community has grown more vicious. Social media has given a larger platform to blacks willing to spread the seeds of fear, distrust and hatred. As evidence for this claim I offer the likes of Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, Tommy Sotomayor and Pastor James David Manning. These men are my trinity of black hatred. You can find clips of each of them making the most derogatory statements about black people. Their critiques (mostly inarticulate and overly simplistic) are disguised as tough love, yet they rarely offer any serious solutions to the systemic or cultural problems facing the black America. They share a common ideology that blames black victims of racial injustice as the culprits of their predicament. These men have in their own way justified slavery, Jim Crow, inadequate schools, stop-and-frisk, mass incarceration and police brutality.

The ironic and fatal flaw in their worldview is that no level of self aggrandizement can separate them from their black skin. These self righteous blacks are susceptible to the same racial profiling and discrimination they dismiss or outright deny. From a phenomenological standpoint all of us are powerless in mitigating the way others tattoo us with their perceptions of the world. There isn't enough black on black crime to insulate the black bourgeois from non blacks who hold similar views about black men and women. My goal isn't to deflect or silence their criticism, but to call into question those voices who have nothing but contempt for black people.