On the subject of Respectability Politics
I am disturbed that the issue of respectability politic ha reared its ugly head again. This time I the Amen corner of the President’s new MY BROTHERS KEEPERS initiative. And don’t get me wrong, I know that they are in the Amen corner because I am there to see them – AMEN!
I have tweeted and posted before about the counter productivity of respectability politics and how it serves to divide and conquer. As a 50plus year old, I put on my respectability politics blinders and condemn young men who sag their pants and young women twerking, because the last thing I want to do is hear the voice of young people.
Being Respectable has not saved black people from murder, torture or rape. A suit and tie don’t stop a bullet or feed a family. It is the man or woman inside the suit of clothes that makes the difference, that does the work, that we attempt to shame.
My thought on Respectability Politics today is profoundly sad and shame filled. For whom am I being respectable? WHO AM I BEING RESPECTABLE FOR? There is a condition precedent that I am not enough as I am, that I have to clean up and act right in order to be safe in my community, have protectable rights and be safe in my skin. How is my humanity not enough? My citizenship not sufficient? That I must look better, be better, just to get permission to be?
Respectability politics has at its core an unforgivable and unbelievable concept. That we as black people have to EARN the right to exist. That we s black people have to prove our humanity and worthiness to exist. That we must seek permission to be accepted as full citizens and human beings. That the basis of white supremacy is correct, as a black person, I as all other black people are fundamentally inferior to white in particular and nonblack in general. Those of us who reject that premise are odd, crazy and must be tamed or silenced.
Well enough, I don’t buy it and if you buy it have bought it I ask that you give it some thought… because it is all BULLSHIT!!