Black Celebrities Are Not Spokespersons for an Entire Race
Date – January 7, 2018
“Hey, Rock. Can I ask you something? When will black people ever stop…”
Alright, let me stop you right there. *frustrated chuckle*
Before I begin, I have to introduce an idea that probably goes against the popular opinion. When people use the word, “ignorant,” to describe those who make racist or even sexist remarks, I don’t believe the word should have such a negative tone. Some ignorance is innocent. Some people honestly have no idea what is offensive because they haven’t been exposed to diverse cultures.
It reminds me of this 16-year-old kid from my days working as a pizza delivery driver. He jokingly told the manager, a playful dark-skinned man from Africa, that he reminded him of a monkey. Understandably, the manager was upset. But I saw the remorse in the kid’s crying eyes. He was truly innocent in his ignorance. He didn’t mean to offend. He just didn’t know any better.
If you were raised in one city, one culture your entire life with very little diversity, it’s understandable why you might be ignorant to the hardships, stigmas, or stereotypes of another race. I don’t think those individuals should be slighted for their ignorance. I don’t even think we should look down on them for being raised with that lack of diversity.
If you’ve ever been to some of the lesser-known areas of the United States, you’ll realize why minorities are called, minorities. In Colorado, I attended my cousin’s graduation. He was only one of four black students graduating amongst 200. It’s not White People’s fault that large groups Blacks haven’t migrated to parts of Wyoming or regions of the Northwest.
And when people say, “Well white people should learn the plight of (insert race)!”
I say, why should they? Unless they really want to know of their own volition or have a friend or loved one who’s of a different race that they want to draw close to, I don’t believe anyone should be morally coerced into learning the hardships of another race. I think those who do shame others into learning, either want others to feel their pain, or use their victimhood as some kind of badge of moral superiority. There could be other reasons I’m sure, but its something to think about and just cause for self-reflection.
On New Years Day, I watched Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix specials. It was highly anticipated. I enjoyed his last two and lamented his absence from the entertainment industry. Chappelle’s has a disarming voice, his comedic tones aren’t forced and he presents a discussion in the midst of his levity that prompts people to think, not out of guilt, but curiosity. I applaud him, truly I do.
But sadly, my elation turned to horror when he started talking about Colin Kaepernick and the whole issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. As an American, I respect their right to protest, I even respect the fact that it is essentially a peaceful protest. I disagree and dislike their protests, but as an adult who is taught to love thy neighbor, I understand and respect it.
However…when Dave Chappelle told his Los Angeles audience that Colin Kaepernick “took a knee during that anthem for us…” and that “everyone who takes a stand for somebody else always gets beat down…”
I was utterly disappointed. By “us” is he referring to relatively rich black celebrities, athletes, and public figures? I suspect not. I’m reluctant to put words in his mouth, but I believe its safe to assume, by “us” he’s talking about Black People. If he was specific and went so far as to say “Colin Kaepernick took a knee during that anthem for the racial injustices in America,” I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.
But when Black Celebrities take it upon themselves to tell a general audience, what Black People as a whole do or don’t want, this is a very big problem.
Allow me to explain.
The best way to understand this is to use the logic Dennis Prager had when he explained why you shouldn’t take God’s name in vain. During a question and answer lecture he gave with Ravi Zacharias, Prager clarified that people shouldn’t “carry God’s name in vain.” Meaning, one shouldn’t commit murder in the name of God, or steal in the name of God. Basically misrepresenting God’s name for your own self-interest is the sin of taking God’s name in vain.
Furthermore, he goes on to explain that if “an Atheist commits torture, and a religious person commits torture, it’s actually worse if a person tortures in the name of God than if an Atheist tortures. Because the Atheist has done pure evil, but has not ruined the possibility of taking God seriously.”
Do you see the correlation? I know gears are beginning to grind upstairs.
Prager says, “There is a direct relationship between all the murder in God’s name taking place in our time (referring to Islam), and the ascent of Atheism. Because nobody does the case for Atheism like the person who does evil in God’s name. And nobody makes the case for God, than the one who does beautiful things in God’s name.”
“Rock, are you seriously comparing Black People to God?”
I’m comparing race to religion, my friend. And I think the logic holds water. My biggest fear is that a majority of White People who aren’t racist, who don’t care about the color of your skin will eventually get fed up with being made to feel guilty or bad over something they never even did to begin with. I say that, because I know how it feels to be oppressed into caring about an issue that doesn’t apply to me one way or the other.
You don’t realize that you’re being forced to care about an issue out of some misplaced or exploited guilt, not at first. But eventually, the tactics lose their potency. You grow up. You hear or read logic that combats that which shamed you in the first place. Then comes the resentment. And if you’re not careful, that resentment can either fade in which you return to neutrality and love everyone regardless. Or…it can turn to animosity and a need to stand up against that which oppressed you to save others from falling down the same traps you fell for. That animosity can turn to hate. That hate can be passed down to your children. And so, the cycle never ends.
It wasn’t until I heard Mr. Prager’s reasoning that I was finally able to articulate my problem with Black Lives Matter.
You see, I’ve always said that my main problem with Black Lives Matter is the freaking title of their movement. They’re carrying the name of Black People. And when they do bad things like call for violence against whites, or disrupt an intersection, or applaud the murder of cops, they are essentially making a case for those who would and could be potentially racist against us.
More importantly, what if you are Black and you don’t agree with the Black Lives Matter movement? What if you’re Black, and you don’t agree with Dave Chappelle, or Jay-Z, or the dude from Grey’s Anatomy? What if you’re Black and you don’t believe in the idea of institutional racism? What if you’re Black you see how the media lies and manipulates the facts just to drum up racial tension. Meanwhile, a white father of three can get executed by a cop in a hotel hallway and the media just glosses over that.
When Dave Chappelle took it upon himself to tell a Los Angeles audience that a NFL player was standing up for “us”…I think educated individuals would see this and say, “We know what you’re talking about all Black people. It’s a bit misleading but we know you’re not saying that Kaepernick is representing Black people as a whole, just those who have faced racial injustices.”
It’s the same with those videos that start with “Dear White People”.
I see that and I’m shaking my head like, “Dude…you guys are pushing your luck.”
Or are they really so thirsty for a race war that they forgot what happened on Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.
Unfortunately, and I suppose this boils down to the crux of the matter, we live in a society where people don’t like to think, either for themselves or critically at all. Even on Facebook, it’s gotten to the point where one has to make a picture out of a statement just to get others to read it.
It’s difficult to discern what is true. More than that, if you’re of another race, living in a community that isn’t so racially diverse, and all you have to go on is the sayings of your favorite comedian, celebrity, or athlete to teach you about Black People, its very easy to be misled into thinking ALL black people agree with that public figure.
Diversity isn’t just about race or the color of your skin, it’s about the culture. Cultures have sub-cultures. Think about the 1950s, where you had the Greasers and the Socs. Think about the high school stereotypes, the jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, and so forth. Even when we grow up and develop our own interests, there are always different cultures and groups springing forth from a larger group.
It’s the same with Black People. Growing up, my favorite group was the Backstreet Boys while everyone else was listening to Juvenile, Masta P, and DMX. I was tormented relentlessly by my own race. The way I dressed, the way I talked, my mannerisms, and the fact that I saw beauty in all races, not just black girls, I was bombarded with slurs like Oreo or a Carlton. Black students would accuse me of wishing I was white. Some girls would accuse me of thinking I was better than everyone else.
I didn’t think I was better than everyone else. But clearly, I was different. Which is why I get a little bent out of shape when I see commercials and people romanticizing that notion, as if being different is a cool thing. It isn’t. When you’re really different, you’re not accepted. You begin to feel like something is wrong with you. And if you’re like me, you start to get angry. Some people pity themselves and get depressed. I balled my fist and threw down.
And you want know why I was different? Because when my parents told me to “just be yourself no matter what…” for some reason I took that to heart. The only time I ever fit in was when I was pretending to be someone else. I hated that. I was fake and sometimes, my friends could tell. This isn’t freedom.
So when black students in middle school would ask, “Oh, Rock wishes he was white.”
I’d deny it. At the same time, I wanted to tell them, “I wish I wasn’t black.”
Why would I? Black Pride? Pride in one’s African heritage? Pride in the fact that our ancestors were beaten, tortured, and forced to slave labor? What pride is there in any of that?
It wasn’t until I grew up and learned about the struggles of the Civil Rights movement that I understood what it meant to have pride in my race. I already had pride as an American. But pride in being an African descendant came later.
It’s easy to follow the trends and stand up for the marginalized opinions these days. Try doing it when buses were torched, churches were bombed, the KKK pulled off hits like the mafia, and whole communities rose up to lynch men for f**king whistling at a white woman.
There’s my pride. In the face of death and permanent bodily damage, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lewis, the nine students attending the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, Medgar Evers.
Even before that, the abolitionists, many of whom were white, like William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and of course the eloquent former slave, Mr. Frederick Douglas. These are my heroes. They fought for equality. They fought for liberty.
So why has it suddenly become popular and apparently acceptable that people are calling for segregation? I suppose that’s for another essay. Allow me to end with this.
“AMERICANS ARE MORE DIVIDED THAN EVER!”
We’ve all heard this vitriolic rallying call by individuals from both sides. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a tactic they use to make others feel bad for not jumping on the bandwagon of any given ideology or agenda.
Personally, I like that America is divided. I think we should learn to accept this. How can there be this call for diversity, yet the same ones expect unity? With the advent of the internet, more Americans are exposed to philosophies and concepts from around the world. It would be nice if we were united at least on one centralized theme, but I think the more secular we get, the lesser the chances of that happening.
AMERICA IS DIVIDED!
When have we ever been united? On what are we divided? What country on earth, would you say, is united? And if we should unite, what should we be united about?
This is the United States of America. I believe we are united by the laws of the United States Constitution by which we are governed. But that’s it. Our preferences, our ideologies, how we choose to live our lives, and who we choose to worship, that is our freedom. That is our liberty.
Just because you were born of a race or ethnicity, it doesn’t mean you have to live your life according to the most popular culture associated with it.