Black people are NOT cowards



What a difference a weekend makes. Before the Don Sterling tape scandal, I had not heard of the Clippers basketball team or of their multi-billionaire owner. The back-story behind this scandal is the stuff that soap operas are made of. From what I have gleaned online it appears that an 80 year old rich White man who happens to own a basketball team takes a young biracial mistress. His wife of 50 (something) years instead of divorcing her husband sues mistress for $1.8 million citing that she is a gold digger using her feminine wiles to extort money from silly old men. Mistress goes to her boyfriend to complain; apparently he shrugs and refuses to offer help. Mistress then makes the recording, probably selling it to the highest bidder. Old man is then banned from owning a basketball team for life by the NBA.

This story is very interesting on many levels. I found it ridiculous that a man would date a biracial woman and then complain when she associates with other Black people. Is she only Black when she is in the company of other Black people? Is he able to overlook her blackness when they are alone or associating with other White people? He objected to her being photographed with Magic Johnson, a respected sports legend and entrepreneur. Mr Johnson is not exactly someone dodgy from the wrong part of town. It does beg the question as to whether Black people can be truly accepted by white patriarchy, even if they are respected members of society. If a former athlete who has been openly praised by former US presidents is not enough for a Black man to be deemed reputable company it would suggest that the answer to the question is a resounding no.

I was prompted to write this piece after reading an article by rapper Homeboy Sandboy titled ‘Black People Are Cowards’. His premise is that African – Americans do not stand up for themselves in the way that the Civil Rights generation did. As a consequence White people are now free to disrespect us. His secondary gripe is that hip hop artists and TV reality stars perpetuate negative stereotypes about Black people which fuels the racism African-Americans face.

It is ridiculous to blame the oppressed for their oppression. The way in which Black people behave or are perceived to behave has nothing to do with racism. Racism is a social construct which exists to determine who controls and has access to the world’s resources. Slurs such as Black people are lazy, violent, feckless, crazy etc are hollow excuses to justify the barbarism of slavery, apartheid and colonialism. A Black person’s behaviour will not protect them from prejudice. Sterling was not impressed by Magic Johnson’s reputation. Respectability politics is a dangerous concept because it offers a false sense of security at the expense of our self respect. I abhor the behaviour of certain Black entertainers or members of the community. I am no fan of misogyny or Black on Black violence. However, I will always champion the idea that we are not a monolith group. When Black people play into the ‘respectability’ game you are ignoring the pervasive power of institutionalised racism and denying our humanity by lumping us as a group rather than a collective of unique individuals with a shared hue. Most importantly this argument lets the perpetrators and beneficiaries of racism off the hook. ‘It’s not our fault that we are racist; after all look at how these people behave.’

Mr Sandboy goes on in his piece to label the NBA players cowards for not refusing to play after the tape had been leaked. These men may very well be multi millionaires but who are we behind the safety of our keyboards to expect them to put their livelihoods on the line. He goes on to label every one of us cowards for not being prepared to do the same should a relevant situation arise. I have no idea how many bosses worldwide hold absolutely abhorrent beliefs. There are very few people who can abruptly leave their jobs without facing dire financial consequences. Is Mr Sandboy prepared to pay the rent/mortgage of the people who do not want to work for a jerk? Racism is a societal problem it is too big to expect an individual(s) to rectify. In some cases the biggest sign of defiance is survival. My own parents suffered a lot of indignities throughout their working life and did this (without complaint) to put food on the table and to provide opportunities for my sister and I. To continue and thrive in a hostile environment is the greatest act of bravery. It takes all of your physical and emotional strength to carry on day after day. The promise of the post Civil Rights era has not been fully realised. Gains have been made in the last 50 years but we have not reached the Promised Land. Black people are still several more times likely to be stopped by police, unemployed and imprisoned compared to their White counterparts on both sides of the Atlantic. If you doubt that we live in a post racial society, this tape is proof enough to remove those rose coloured glasses.

I believe in the power of protest but we must put things into context. We live in a different time from the 50s and 60s. The Civil Rights just like the Arab Spring were not random. They were orchestrated acts of civil disobedience which took years to build its momentum. In order to have a far reaching movement, it requires strategy, patience and planning. If you want to hurt the likes of Sterling, stop watching/attending matches, stop purchasing their sponsors products, then sit back and watch Rome burn. In order to have purchasing power you need to be in employment. Once you have lost your purchasing power you have no voice. I would advise Mr Sandboy to take a class in 101 Economics.

Fast forward a few days, Mr Sterling has been fined $2.8 million dollars and received a lifetime ban from the NBA. (And to think that no Black athletes had to lose their jobs in order to achieve this) I am not naive, once the sponsors feared a serious backlash due to the tape the NBA had to take action. I am glad that such action was taken but I am far from dancing in the streets. Personally, I couldn’t care less who Donald Sterling wishes to associate with and the reasons behind that choice. What I do care about is when someone is able to use their racist beliefs as a platform to diminish the quality of life for others. When he is not busy chasing a woman four times his junior, Sterling is a housing magnate owning vast amount of property in Los Angeles. He has been accused of systematically refusing to rent apartments to Black and Latino tenants. Various court case of discrimination has been brought against him, the most recent being in 2006. In the US and most places at that, where you live greatly determines your safety, the ability to receive a decent education or healthcare. Consigning Black people to ghetto environments significantly reduces their quality of life, potential for social advancement and perpetuates the disparity between rich White and poor Blacks. That is the power of institutionalised racism, when somebody has the authority to put their beliefs into action at the detriment of others.

I am all for all of us doing our part to make the world a fairer place but I am a believer in picking battles. I think it is right that Sterling be taken to task for his abhorrent views but the real fight is how do we tackle the system which allows men like Sterling to live in their ivory towers while they enforce housing segregation in the 21st century. Mr Sandboy would be better served taking his ire out on the powers that be instead of expecting miracles from the have nots.

Please let me know your thoughts


The hatred within


Self hate are two words which have plagued and continue to plague the Black community. In the last forty years the world has witnessed a Black first family in the White House, the ‘Black is beautiful’ slogans of the 70’s and Black artists filmmakers, CEOs hold positions of prominence. For all of this progress, the greatest enemy within the Black community is the self loathing that we have for ourselves and for others who share a similar hue. Skin lightening products are a booming trade, where people are prepared to put mercury on their bare skin. On both sides of the Atlantic, young Black men killing each other at a higher rate than any other racial group. To add insult to injury there is a new wave of Black entertainers who believe that it is acceptable to make derogatory remarks about their race with impunity.

The lack of self love is the negative emotional legacy of slavery and colonialism. Dividing the Black community was a deliberate strategy to control and manipulate. It is hard to stomach that several hundreds of years later that we have Black celebrities who are only too happy to spread this toxic bile to their own people. I read reports where rapper Lil Wayne was bemoaning the fact that his eldest daughter was dark skinned (source Bougie Black and his protégé Niki Minaj referred to other Black women as ‘nappy headed hoes’. In the Britney Spears remix of ‘Till the World Ends’ she goes on to say:

Chimpanzee’s is hatin’ but I take it all in stride
Put her in a jungle with bananas on the side

I honestly cannot believe that a Black woman would say such a thing, let alone put it on a record. My worry is that artists of this ilk have the platform to spread these self defeating thoughts to young Black men and women worldwide, who readily absorb these messages. It is important to analyse the information we are being fed and who is providing that information. Lil Wayne public persona is that of a bumbling, incoherent, baby making fool. He is a walking talking stereotype of the black buffoon. His image encourages young black men to be ignorant and irresponsible. Then we have his protégé Ms Minaj, a woman so desperate to adopt a White version of beauty that her hero is a Barbie doll. Her message is clear, in order for Black women to be accepted we have to renounce any trace of authenticity and embrace the old nonsense Black beauty and women are less than their White counterparts.

We have a generation of young Black people who have turned their backs on the education system. It is undeniable that the system is riddled with institutional racism, which dampens the enthusiasm to learn however the biggest threat is an accepted anti intelligentsia within the Black community. I deeply resent the implication that being poor and uneducated is the natural condition for all Black people. I think that rappers such as Lil Wayne and co are extremely dangerous because they endorse this message. They promote stagnation at the expense of progression. I don’t believe for a second that Lil Wayne is an idiot. He runs a label, manages the careers of several other artists/staff and has to oversee the legal requirements of his business. An idiot, no matter how well advised cannot do all of this successfully. Therefore all I can deduce is that this shrewd businessman knows exactly what he is doing.

None of us are immune from the effects of White patriarchy, my parents occasionally remind me of the time when aged four how I cried that I didn’t have blue eyes and long hair. I doubt that my school friend with blue eyes cried that I had brown eyes. We may not all be immune but some within the Black community are active collaborators. Our society has norms some subtle, some overt which is understood by all. Every Black entertainer who acts the buffoon, who insults Black women, promotes lighter skin tone as the only acceptable form of beauty,glorifies poverty and illegality is upholding White patriarchy. They are selling a vision of Black mediocrity to those who want Black people to remain at the bottom of the economic ladder and to Black people who take twisted comfort in never attempting to progress. These people are not selling entertainment; they are draining the youth of their aspirations, convincing them that they will always be less than. These ‘entertainers’ are not promoting ‘Black Pride’ they are force feeding their community ‘Black Fatalism’.

In order to fund my creative ambitions I often have to dip my toe in the corporate world. I have met various captains of industry all from different backgrounds. The one thing that they all have in common is an unwavering sense of self belief. Self esteem is the foundation of personal advancement and happiness. It is what spurs you on when your teachers tell you that you won’t amount to anything, it provides the discernment to allow and remove certain people from your life, it gives you the courage to pursue your dreams and the wisdom to know when to quit. Without self esteem you lack the skills to navigate your life in a positive way.

I don’t think that it is coincidence that the Black community has the highest level of Black on Black violence on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US Blacks are only 13% of the population but 40% of murder victims (Source: American In 1998 Operation Trident was launched, a Metropolitan Police Unit dealing specifically with UK Black gun crime. No other race has a police unit charged with looking at crime in their own community in the United Kingdom. This is the most vicious form of self hate where scores of young Black men believe that their lives count for nothing, extend that sense of worthlessness to whoever shares their skin colour.

Institutional racism is a reality, a reality that we need to strengthen the next generation to fight against. if as a community we are not encouraged to adopt responsibility and fight for opportunities, stagnation is the inevitable outcome. We have political leaders who revel in Civil Rights past glories yet offer no direction with the self hate within the Black community. We rush out to financially support Black entertainers who mock their own people, peddling the idea that Black is synonymous with a lack of education and personal advancement. Make no mistake our so called leaders and entertainers know exactly what they are doing. Our continued victimhood keeps these leaders and entertainers very rich at our expense.

I honestly could not care less about these public figures that are only too happy to sell their communities down the river. I just recognise how important self esteem is to have a contented life. I want any future son that I may have to believe that the world his oyster and that he could be anything that he chooses. I would wish the same for any future daughter, and that she would know that she is beautiful, special and unique. It’s important that we protect our children from this self hating bile that often comes from other Black people. In order for the Black community to prosper and grow we must turn out backs and close our wallets to those who happily betray their own people for financial gain.

Please let me know your thoughts