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The Revenge of The “Good” Blacks

October 14, 2007


John Ridley      Eugene Robinson   Juan Williams

By Thought Merchant

Within the African American community exists an element which virulently points to the “dysfunctionality” of the Black underclass as a way to both distinguish themselves from such behavior, and to attack the shortcomings of the Black poor as the fault their own misgivings.

These Black elites often show more disdain for the “ghetto posturing” and “keepin’ it real” of their disadvantaged urban brethren than the most reactionary white conservatives.

Such class divisions are not new to the African American community. Black upper middle class sensibilities ranging from maintaining pedigree, color complex, and concentration on petite-bourgeois material attainment are the more stereotypical hallmarks of the Black upper middle class. But new motivations have come to play since the end of Jim Crow and the rise of right wing reactionary politics.

The Root of Black Middle Class Resentment

At the core of the Black elite’s hatred for the behavior of the Black underclass is their ultimate fear of being equated with all things “nigger”. The Black elite cannot stand the possibility of being lumped together with those whom they disdain and might threaten their status of being “ascended” above the common plight of those who “shall not rise.”

As John Ridley, an African American Huffington Post Blogger and NPR contributor, wrote in his 2006 Esquire Magazine Piece, The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger:

“So I say this: It’s time for ascended blacks to wish niggers good luck. Just as whites may be concerned with the good of all citizens but don’t travel their days worrying specifically about the well-being of hillbillies from Appalachia, we need to send niggers on their way. We need to start extolling the most virtuous of ourselves. It is time to celebrate the New Black Americans–those who have sealed the Deal, who aren’t beholden to liberal indulgence any more than they are to the disdain of the hard Right. It is time to praise blacks who are merely undeniable in their individuality and exemplary in their levels of achievement.”

For Ridley “Niggers” are to be abandoned, shunned, and cast aside so as to not hinder the way for the “ascended” Blacks. The “ascended ones” will then be unfettered by the possible association with those uncouth “coons” in allowing their rise and acceptance by their lilly white paymasters.

Ridely sees the “ascended Black” as the rightful beneficiary of the Civil Rights movement. For him, they have proved worthy of all the material glory and achievement they assume the Civil Rights movement was based upon.

Ignorantly, Ridley fails to acknowledge that one of Dr. Kings most important programs was the poor peoples campaign. Furthermore, it was on the heals of the urban unrest that was brewing in America resulting from police brutality facing the Black poor that the Johnson Administration passed crucial Civil Rights legislation.

Ridley’s simplistic analysis of American issues of race and class show a lack of understanding that one of the beauties of the Civil Rights movement was that for a time we had African Americans lift as they climbed, as opposed to kick down as they ascended, which is Ridley’s prescription for solving the problem of the “New Black Americans” –who in reality are not that new, but seem much more narcissistic.

“What’s with All this “Black” Stuff?”

Mistakenly, another aspect of Black elite identity often hinges upon the perception that they are beyond “blackness”, and as a result, able to achieve on par with their white competitors.

Moreover, to achieve success in overall American society, it is assumed that the Black elites have refined their politics beyond the “accepted” racial positions maintained by the “traditional” civil rights establishment.

As put by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, in  his recent piece, Which Black America:

… “black America” is an increasingly meaningless concept — nearly as imprecise as just plain “America.”

Robinson argues that recent racial slights by White media figures such as Don Imus and Bill O’Reilly stem from the fact that America doesn’t understand that their is a “different” Black America not related to all the “thug life” depicted on television and in music videos.

However, Robinson fails to address why it is the obligation of African Americans to have to prove their dignity and integrity to the same media that enjoys defiling the Black image and trafficking racial buffoonery as normal African American behavior.

Moreover, Robinsion assumes that class nullifies culture in that, as African Americans move up the socio-economic ladder, they will be in essence “less Black.” Therefore, economic attainment will cause African Americans to lose concern for any of the social and political issues that were important to the Black community under harsher economic constraints.

Tacitly, Robinson is assuming that African American culture is a culture of poverty that will be shattered as more Blacks enter the middle class. Robinson’s position belies the long tradition of Black upper middle class social organizations and institutions that did not separate their politics from the Black poor, but sought to create a unified political front with the Black poor in order to fight oppression.

“And They can use Silverware too?”

Fox News contributor Juan Williams blames the poor condition of the African Americans community on a combination of the low quality of Black leadership, a constant concentration on racism as opposed to personal accountability, and an unwillingness to publicly chastise the dysfunctional behavior of the Black poor.

There is truth to much of William’s position. African Americans need to motivate individual achievement in environments that foster none, they must exercise prudent judgment in communities where such examples do not exist, and they must show responsibility in communities that encourage dangerous risk and foolish behavior.

Yet those of Juan Williams’ ilk never seem to explain how  human capital needed to become a model citizen is obtained in communities where 70% of the children are born out of wedlock and 25% of the population lives below poverty.

Furthermore, when Juan Williams stood as an enabler to the racist insults of Bill O’Reilly while he acted shocked that African Americans actually ate like civilized people, Williams lost significant credibility, and caricatured himself as a self hating negro that joys at laughing it up with the white folk at the expense of those “ignorant jigs.”

In conclusion, the revenge of the “Good” Blacks seems to be rearing its head more in America as the racial climate in the country heats up.

In the past it would be rare to hear so many African Americans publicly savage their less advantaged brethren in such times of dire circumstances.

Unfortunately, many African Americans have short memories and cannot remember a time when a nice house in a black suburb, or a quality education didn’t stop the possibility of you being called a nigger…or worse.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2007 11:15 pm

    I don’t know if I would put Eugene Robinson in the same category as John Ridley and Juan Williams, who have both either been enablers or outright shillers. Now, if you had added Jason Whitlock – THAT would have been a trifecta for you. Whitlock has been doing a serious Sambo Shuffle on the Jena Six case.

    I think Robinson and Clarence Page do a pretty good job of balancing being critical in addition to being informative. It’s a tightrope between being informative, and being an unhelpful scolder.

    But, the truth is, if we didn’t have these serious problems, Thought Merchant, there would be nothing for them to comment on in the MSM. We have serious problems within in our community, and you know it.

  2. October 14, 2007 11:59 pm

    My standard for real Black journalists are the following: Mal Goode, Gil Noble, and Tony Brown. These men were the first generation of mainstream Black journalists that came of age via the Civil Rights Movement. They spoke truth to power and did not compromise the integrity of the Black community. How do you compare these pioneers to the poor specimen of Black media commentators we have today. They are all shills and enablers compared to that list. Yet they are highly paid, less critical, and more willing to be complicit in the media onslaught on Black America. Quite sad…quite sad indeed.

  3. Sportsdiva permalink
    October 15, 2007 11:30 am

    Not many are willing to speak truth to power these days. All of them come off as cowards posturing with a fake bravado that doesn’t even thinly viel their self-hate. Sad group. Whitlock is definately amoung them and has a VIP pass to their group.

    The truth is ‘white communities’ have problems too, but their humanity as a whole is never questioned. All human communities have problems, we’re not alone there, we’re human. Nobody feels the need to put them on blast though and point out things that are self-evident.

  4. Denise permalink
    October 17, 2007 2:00 pm

    thanks for your compelling and well-written piece, TM.

  5. Chesapeake permalink
    October 17, 2007 2:31 pm

    Brother, I hate to make this post political; but I will for just a few words:

    I’ve been looking for a label. “Good” blacks sarcastically fits perfectly.

    I have spent much of the last few months talking up the possible sea change that this country can now have. It has been a long, long time since we had a chance to focus this country on the effect of poverty, lack of education, lack of heath care, and other related issues on this country. I was surprised that few people thought these issues matter.

    The “Good” blacks class of black America (if I may) is larger than you can imagine. I think this is one reason that black America will miss the opportunity to elect a president who bases his entire campaign on shifting policy from “tricke down Reaganomics” to building a foundation from the bottom up.

    That’s all. I hope I didn’t offend you too much. Thanks for the provocation!

  6. August 27, 2009 1:13 am

    Though two years old, lol, this post is spot on. For whatever reason, call it irrational racial pride i guess, I can’t stand to see Black commentators speaking derisively against Blacks in the conservative sphere. I have no confidence the audience for this type of traitorous(a tad harsh, yes) rhetoric will provide the reflection necessary to come to a sound conclusion about the plight of the black underclass. This is a huge reason I consider myself liberal. Though I do believe that much of what the “Good” Blacks say is true.

  7. April 9, 2010 9:58 am

    This is a great post. There are far too many Black middle class folks who want to berate the Black poor/working class for their predicament. The only person who I have a modicum of respect for out of the mentioned is Eugene Robinson. Every right-leaning Black talking head should be forced to read William Julius Wilson before they are allowed to comment on the situation of the Black underclass.

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