You're Part of the Problem: How "New Blacks" Miss the Mark

by Kinsey Clarke

We all know that one person: The one who hears an overgeneralization of stereotypical black culture and defends it. The one who plays Devil’s Advocate on issues such as cultural appropriation or other sensitive racial issues. The one who states that maybe, perhaps, black people just aren’t trying hard enough to lift themselves up by the bootstraps in order to succeed in society.

We all know a New Black.

In a time when people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are marching for justice over the unarmed Black people being shot by police and vigilantes, the New Black will question why nobody cares about “black on black crime.”

In a time when white people are gleefully wearing blackface and having “black-themed” parties for Halloween, the New Black will try to make a case for why White Chicks was just as oppressive.

In a time when Iggy Azalea appropriates Black southern culture and argues for the right to say “nigga”, the New Black will defend her logic and try to make it so that Black people are the ones wrong for correcting her.

In a time where Charles Barkley purports that black people are “brainwashed”, “unintelligent” and “not black enough” if they don’t subscribe to being a “thug”, the New Black backs up this claim with whines of being the lone black kid who was teased for being “too white” during their adolescence.

The New Black misses the mark about how oppression and systemic racism affects the lives of Black people. They fail to understand that by cosigning of the structures that oppress us, they are actually supporting the way non-black people treat us. Instead, they believe not recognizing system racism, embracing respectability politics, and their use of code-switching will help them. They do not hold others -- or themselves -- accountable for the way racism limits Black people. They ignore centuries injustice, by embracing the “boot strap” theory. This is a slap in the face to their fellow black people.

I have news for New Blacks: You are a part of the problem.  If you don’t see black people being upset at “black on black” crime – or if you can’t tell the structural power difference between an officer shooting an unarmed civilian versus two black people shooting each other – you simply aren’t looking to see it.  If you think that if Iggy Azalea can’t say “nigga” then nobody should say it – you’re in the wrong.  If you think the long history of blackface is in any way similar to the Wayans brothers movie – you have some serious thinking to do. If you are still upset after being called “too white” in your youth, please get over it. Black people are a part of a multifaceted culture with additional sub-cultures; and to try to portray us as monolithic is an act of erasure.

In short: No, New Blacks, you have not transcended racism by turning a blind eye to injustice in order to fit in with the mainstream. As you join the ranks of Raven-Symone, Pharrell, Keke Palmer, Bill Cosby, and Charles Barkley, please suppress the desire to place the blame of racism on black people as a thinly-veiled attempt at renewing the black community from the inside.

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Kinsey Clarke is a senior at Michigan State University.  She enjoys aerial silks and solo trapeze in her spare time.  You can follow her personal Twitter account here.

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