Check out "I have a question...," Mes Deaux Cents' response to my post, "Is this the end of the black race as we know it?"
In her post, MDC asks if it is time for the black community to "cut loose" folks whose values and actions are a detriment to our race. Below is my take, which can also be found in the post's comments section. As we discussed this issue on her site, MDC made what I think is an insightful proposal: Maybe we are living in a post-black era. In other words, an era where race is not a defining factor in our lives as it may have been for our ancestors. I think MDC has hit on something there. I find in my own life, my blackness, though important, is not the most important influence on my values, desires and culture.
What do you think?
Since I wrote my post and read yours, I’ve been thinking about the notion of solidarity. H.G. Wells said, “A downtrodden class … will never be able to make an effective protest until it achieves solidarity.” That is undeniable. Throughout my life as a black woman, I have had that idea reinforced regarding my community, so I get a sickening feeling when black middle class folks talk about “cutting loose” other black folks. When I wrote my post yesterday, I felt gnawing middle class guilt. The very notion of what I was saying is contrary to black solidarity as it is thought of in the black community.
But you know what? Here is the definition of solidarity that I found on answer.com: “A union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests.” I think this definition explains the fallacy of commonality based solely on race. The results of the recent Pew study underscore that not every black person shares interests, purposes, sympathies, responsibilities and interests. I don’t think this is a bad thing. It just is.
So MDC, what is the answer to your question and mine? What is the responsibility of the middle class?
We are not obligated to embrace or endorse people and behaviors that damage us. In fact, I think we are obligated to call out and challenge those (of any class) who put our survival in jeopardy—from the neighborhood drug dealer to the smut merchants at Viacom and BET. I can’t be unified with someone who is trying to kill me—figuratively or physically.
Middle class black folks should reject the guilt that gets laid at our feet for “abandoning” the black race. I am not a traitor for seeking opportunity for me and my family.
But we are obligated to give back in return for the blessings that we enjoy. We need to work to even the playing field for all people and remove the institutional barriers to success. We need to support programs that heal the self esteem of black men, women and children. We need to practice generosity and compassion. You know I love the Dalai Lamaisms: “Visualize every being as your own beloved mother or as another person for whom you have the utmost affection, someone who, for you, embodies great kindness.”
So, to me, it is not about making enemies of other black folks, but it is about “cutting loose” unhealthy attachments to people and thinks that are detrimental.