I was royally disappointed. National Public Radio had scheduled a discussion on what makes a black person a sellout on the program Cityscape. Could it be that black people like Bill Cosby and Clarence Thomas are turncoats to the black community or are these people simply misunderstood independent thinkers? At the precise time I had my radio tuned. However, because of an ice storm that hit the Midwest hard the talk show guest was unable to keep the appointment. No word on when or if the discussion was to be rescheduled.
Although I was looking forward to the conversation I’ve never been impressed with these talks. The fact that we have to discuss such behavior of people in the black community gives legitimacy to their racial betrayal. Is it really wrong for black people to use their celebrity and/or position of authority in ways that would distance them from common black people? Should a black Supreme Court justice be void of any semblance of compassion for the black community? Is it truly okay for a black celebrity to stand in front of a room full of well to do white people and ridicule the poor black community for all the racial stereotypes that the dominant corporate culture slaps on black people?
The other day I was watching a show on the development of submarines in the Untied States and in the Soviet Union. The show indicated that America always had a technological advantage over its Soviet counterparts. But John Anthony Walker and his family compromised that advantage when they sold American secrets to the Soviets. Very few people in America would have any problem discerning whether or not Mr. Walker betrayed his country. Few here would dismiss him as an independent thinker. There is little doubt that Mr. Walker betrayed his country.
But ask the people in the Soviet Union about Mr. Walker’s decision to sell secrets and they would probably call him a hero. More than likely people in the former Soviet Union would call Mr. Walker an independent thinker willing to take great personal risk to keep balance in the arms race. If we lived in Russia and this question stayed at the forefront of national attention, propaganda would be tuned to promote Mr. Walker as a role model for other Americans to follow.
In the struggle between the black community and the dominant community, black people who turn their back on the black community in order to become part of the mainstream culture are rewarded for their devotion to the status quo of white privilege and black subjugation. Black people who focus on personal responsibility instead of trying to develop a sense of social responsibility to the black community will do very well. The fraction of the black population that does well is positive proof that there is no racism or prejudices that keep black people from succeed.
Propaganda will tell you that no one can keep you from what you want if want it bad enough. If a racist doesn’t want you to work at his or her company all you have to do is go to the next company and the next company and the next company until you find the one that is willing to hire you. The fact that the black candidate has to look harder and longer and settle for less than the white candidate is nothing that needs attention. Or if a racist doesn’t want to hire you all you have to do is roll over on your back, expose your belly, tuck your tail between your legs, and prove that you are no threat to their sense of racial superiority and would in fact be a good soldier in the war to protect the status quo.
However, such behavior will only camouflage racial disparity. Black children will still go to jail for exhibiting behavior that barely gains a nod from white counterparts. Black women will still go missing without any attention from mainstream media while white women who disappeared years ago will still grab our collective interest. Black men who try to exercise a little personal responsibility and protect their family and property from drunken white mobs will go to jail while white man who kill black people for burglarizing their neighbor’s house are hailed as a hero.
It is no that black people who support the status quo and defend the establishment will be defended by the establishment. In fact, the dominant culture looks for black people who will defend their interest. When the President is a staunch conservative who wants to replace a black Supreme Court justice with a liberal mindset and the President wants to keep the racial diversity of the high court, the President will look for a black justice with the same thought patterns regardless of merit.
If people want to make something abhorrent look benign a good place to start is by asking a question along the lines like “is this so bad?” It is a matter of perception. If people believe that they will benefit from abhorrent behavior it is more than just acceptable, it is in fact necessary. Murder may be a bad thing. But murder as an act of war on behalf of the country is generally perceived to be a positive thing.
The same thing can be said about being a racial traitor and committing racial espionage. The dominant community will always see black people who distance themselves from the black community as role models for black people to follow. Are they black sellouts? Are they black traitors? It really depends on your perspective. If you are somebody who thinks black people have nothing to complain about and should just submit to the status quo that favors white people without exception, then there is nothing wrong with black people who distance themselves from the black community. In fact, you are more than likely to be one of those people that would even promote such a mindset.
However, if you are a person who is looking at the disparity between the black community and other communities, when you see black people being scorned and treated with contempt from mainstream, when you see the constant propaganda that paints black people as criminals, unethical, morally inferior, unwilling to face real challenges, unimportant, expendable, uneducated, unsophisticated, and unqualified despite our qualifications, more than likely you see black people who distance themselves from the black community, who promote dominant culture values that oppress the black community, who reinforce every negative stereotype of black people, as traitors to the black community.