Tag Archives: Respectability Politics

Respectability Politics: 4 Hints Your Approaches to Empowering Black Communities Are Harmful

18 Jul

There’s a running joke about whether or not black people should eat chicken in public.

When I’d bring a packed lunch with chicken wings to the office, I’d laugh at myself as I heated it up in the break room, thinking, “Am I really about to sit down with a plate of fried chicken in front of all these white folks?”

Of course I would. The chicken stereotype seemed silly to me, but there were other stereotypes I worked hard not to portray. 

I used to viciously side-eye anyone who argued that twerking was empowering. I’d quietly shame people who enjoyed reality TV shows like Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop. And I preferred artists like Janelle Monae over Nicki Minaj because I thought Nicki was a modern day example of the Jezebel stereotype.

I didn’t like anything that made black people look like we didn’t have home training. I wanted society to see positive images, like the high rates of black college graduates or the thriving black business owners.

To me, people who embodied stereotypes were enemies to black progress. These were my respectability politics.

Respectability politics are rules used by marginalized groups to help assimilate and survive in hostile environments that aren’t as accepting of other cultures. These rules define acceptable behavior based on mainstream values. They define how to act in front of (white) company.

These politics are frequently found in conversations about how to tackle racism and anti-blackness in America and how to uplift black communities.

For instance, some black parents will teach their children to dress and act a certain way around police officers, in hopes that their children will not suffer the fate of children like Mike Brown and Tamir Rice.

With the exceptions of a few “news” personalities whose intentions no one can be too sure of (ahem, Don Lemon and Stacey Dash), respectability politics typically comes from well-meaning people who love and support black people. Our mothers, teachers, friends, favorite musicians, and relatives use them to better our communities and protect loved-ones from oppressive situations… Read More at Everyday Feminism.

How NOT to be an Ankh N*gga

30 Jun

Dear Black men,

If you find yourself often posting and believing things like this: 

Stipper

Or this: 

NICKI

If you spend a good chunk of you time hating on certain “types” of Black women.

Then you may be an Ankh N*igga. 

According to the Curvellas of Black Tumblr, an Ankh N*igga is:

WHAT

If you fit the description, chances are, most of the Black Women on the internet can’t stand you. And though you stand preach Black unity, you spread a Black hate like no other. You need to be stopped, immediately.

STOP

So here’s help

Use these 3 steps to cease your Ankh N*gga tendencies:

Step 1: Check Your Respectability Politics at the Door

You may rock your Tutankhamun shirt with the Eyes of Horus chain all you want, but if you’re flashing your Kemet gear while criticizing Black women who own their sexuality and do not perform in ways that you agree with, your self-righteous, fake consciousness ain’t worth shit.

As I mentioned in a previous post, respectability politics, the view that only certain Black people who fit a narrow mold are worthy of respect, works to further restrict and shame, rather than liberate. By praising one idealized type of Black woman while shaming another, you create a very small prison cell for us to function inside of, a prison that is often demanded from our white counterparts. So you can hashtag #StayWoke til the day you die, but unless you learn to respect all Black women and drop your respectability politics, your views will constantly spew white supremacist ideology. You’re a walking oxymoron.

Step 2: Remember that #BlackWomenMatter. All Black women matter… the Janelle Monaes and Blac Chynas alike deserve your respect.

As I explained a while back when this meme was circulating:

back women COMPARISON

Black women are more complex than the Ratchet Hoe vs. Educated Sister dichotomy you seem to have engrained in your mind. Just like how you ask to be treated like a human being, we too want to be treated as people, not one-dimensional stereotypes. Just like you, we carry burdens from racism, white supremacy, sexism, and more. We have to show one another love. Remember, the rise of Black Americans requires the rise of all Black people, including women, children, the poor, and our LGBTQIA fam. 

Step 3: Uplift Black people with compassion and an open mind, rather than criticism and hate. 

There’s not really much to explain for this step: If you really cared for your people like you say you do, then stop dividing us into categories based on who is worthy of respect and who isn’t. You don’t uplift people with shallow judgment. You uplift with conversations. If you really love Black people, then show it.

Black men, I love you and will ride for you. Please show the same sentiments.

PS- Now, I know name-calling is not polite. No matter how fitting the name is, I won’t really be using it. It gives such a powerful symbol (the ankh) a bad name by associating it with a negative concept. But I did want to bring to light a problem in the Black community.

PPS- I also heard “Shea Butter Bitches” is the female equivalent. 

Sources (I learned of the concept “Ankh N*gga” from Black Tumblr): 

http://rootsexposed.tumblr.com/post/90562112704/hi-sorry-to-bother-but-what-is-an-ankh-nigga

http://witchsistah.tumblr.com/post/31439396164/dear-fake-conscious-brothas

http://curvellas.tumblr.com/post/87724549986/what-is-a-ankh-nigga

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/ankh-niggas

Why Kendrick Lamar is Wrong about Ferguson

11 Jan

KENDRICKOh Kendrick, I love you much. But you let us down.

When discussing the situation in Ferguson in his recent Billboard interview, the Compton rapper said,

“I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f—ed up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”

Ugh… Kendrick, Why?

Black people, PLEASE—we really need to let go of this “respect ourselves before they respect us” argument. It’s loaded with respectability politics and reeks of internalized racism.

Need I remind everyone that we are human beings, and therefore should be treated with a certain level of respect. You know—the same amount of respect a white man would receive if he was standing outside trying to break up a fight. Or the same amount of respect a white, skittle-loving, hoodie-wearing teenager would receive if he were walking through his neighborhood.

Yes, I know we are not white and therefore, are not afforded certain privileges. But we don’t have to co-opt the white supremacist thinking that niggers are niggers until they act a certain way. Because even if you are the most “respectable” person in the world, if your skin is not white, you’re still going to be followed by sales clerks in certain stores, you’re still going to face a certain amount of racism from ignorant people you meet in the world, and you still may have run-ins with the police that you would not have had if your skin was white.

Respectable or not, some people still discriminate based on color. And that’s what we need to be fighting against. Kendrick needs to point his finger at institutionalized racism, police brutality, and discriminative legislation, not at the people who are on the receiving end of this broken, racist system.

Also, who ever said that Black people don’t respect themselves? Please, inform me—cuz I really would like to know:

Aren’t the millions of Black parents who work hard so that their children can have even more fulfilling lives respecting themselves?

Aren’t the rising number of Black women getting degrees respecting themselves?

Aren’t the hundreds of thousands of Black people marching, demonstrating, dying-in, and demanding change in a failing justice system respecting themselves?

Anyone who believes that Black people do not respect themselves needs to turn off those housewife shows, leave their couches, and join the nearest #BlackLivesMatter protest in their area.

Some people look at certain situations and mainstream media, and then turn to tell Black people to respect themselves. Meanwhile, no one is looking at Honey Boo Boo, and then running to tell white people that they need to respect themselves.

Respectability politics does not work to our benefit y’all. We need to stop embracing it.

 

I want to hear your opinions. Drop some knowledge in the comments section below.

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