Black In America: It’s A Thin Line

Posted: July 31, 2014 in General

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A series, inspired by the CNN special, dedicated to race related identity issues concerning Black people in America.

The Story

While reading up on this Iggy Azalea thing happening to Hip Hop I came across an article by Hip Hop feminist, Brittney Cooper. Cooper is a part of the younger generation of Black feminists who are now ascending the platform of discourse.

I admire Cooper a number reasons. She is bold and brazen in her opinions; and she is resolved to reconcile her academic sensibilities with her Southern upbringing and her Hip Hop passion. However, I often find Cooper, especially when it comes to her feminism falling into the common sterile pitfall that younger feminists fall prey to: outlandish declarations and accusations founded on emotional response rather than sound logic and research. In this particular article as Cooper chastises Iggy Azalea for her appropriation of sonic Blackness, she takes a moment curse Black men out as well — it wasn’t enough to release her anger on her article subject I suppose.

The Statement

Cooper states:

That Black men have no sustained critique of the politics of caping for white women in hip hop is lamentable. That their race politics don’t extend far enough to include Black women in any substantive way is downright unacceptable. Forty years ago, Black male race leaders told us that race was the only thing that mattered, feminism be damned. Now in this political moment of My Brother’s Keeper, in the cultural arena, rap crews like Lil Wayne’s Young Money Cash Money and T.I.’s Grand Hustle Entertainment throw their weight behind white women rappers without a second thought.

Cooper doesn’t set enough of a foundation for this claim. Where does she get the idea that Black men have no sustained critique of the politics of camping for white women in Hip Hop? She takes this one example and uses it to make a blanket statement about Black men. We have come to expect that kind of generalization from those on the outside of the community but to have it happen from one of our own is disheartening. Cooper goes on to say;

From this, Black women are supposed to conclude two things: 1) race does not matter, except if you are a Black man and 2) if Black men do anything for any woman, it’s the same as being hospitable and/or progressive to every woman.
By riding for white female rappers to the exclusion of Black women, Black men collude with the system against Black women, by demonstrating that our needs, aspirations and feelings do not matter and are not worthy of having a hearing.
Black men keep on proving that when given access to power, money and influence, be it political or cultural, it is not Black women they ride or die for. They want our unwavering devotion, even as they make choices that contribute to the silencing of women of color in a culture we helped to build. And young, oblivious white women, caught up in fanciful ideas about a post-racial universe, climb on board, taking my unsuspecting nephew and his friends for the ride of their lives.
In all cases, Black women remain relegated to being what poet Jessica Care Moore calls “hip hop cheerleaders,” “cheering from the sidelines of a stage we built.”

A well articulated argument with little truth and no ground. One Black man choosing to support a white female rapper for the sake of creating a gimmick and exploiting the industry hardly make the statement that race only matters if you’re a Black man or that Black men have no specific investment in the uplifting of Black women. Cooper falls into a common pitfall of modern Black feminists in that her feminism exists only as a weapon to assault everyone around her with the excuse that she is championing for all Black women.

The Thin Line

Relations between Black men and Black women often walks a thin line between love and hate. On that line is the middle ground that allows one to both love and chastise another. If one goes to far in one direction they end up loving blindly and sacrificing their hearts; too far in the other direction and they blindly lash out at everything around them destroying those who they sought to love.

Cooper states that Black men want the unwavering devotion of Black women. That’s sort of true. More accurately Black men and Black women want each other’s unwavering devotion. Any ideology that makes the claim to advocate for Black men or Black women but excludes the other from it’s umbrella of love and protection is a dangerous and insidious philosophy that bastardizes itself. How can one claim to love Black men but not their mothers, daughters, sisters, and lovers? How can one claim to love Black women but not their fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers. There cannot be one without the other.

and since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman, and our game from a woman. I wonder why we take from our women, rape out women, do we hate our women?

– Tupac Shakur, Keep Ya Head Up

The Problem

The major issue here is that we keep defining ourselves by our struggle, acknowledging each other only in our pain, and searching for each other in our battle. We are soldiers in a decades long war who have become so enthralled in the fight that we cannot tell friend from foe. I submit to you that if you want to know who your enemy is look for the one that is trying to kill you. Black men have not ever tried to destroy Black women. Perhaps in ignorance and/or neglect we have failed, hurt, and scarred Black women but never have we maliciously sought their pain.

It’s becoming redundant and counter productive to keep having these warmongering rants about how Black men hate Black women. That is a lie. We are not perfect. We have not honored Black women as we should have. We have not loved them as hard as we should have. But we do not hate Black women nor are we seeking their subordination. We want the sake thing they want: Justice and equality as well as love, and support. I don’t see a problem with that. The problem is that we make excuses for refusing to give it to one another. For that there really is no excuse.

The Point

I’m not here for any Black ideology that does not have love, understanding, and forgiveness as it’s core foundation. I don’t see a problem with that. The wounded do not heal themselves with vengeance and assault on themselves and the Black community – Black men and Black women – will not heal itself by warring within. It is true that although we all are oppressed our struggles are not identical. Their are nuances to each that can only be understood from that specific vantage point. However, we can’t waste time seeing whose wounds are worse. The revolution will require all of us. We are stronger united. We are better together.

I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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