It's about our community and our spirituality!

White Approval

The following is a response to an article on the Afrospear
titled White Approval Addiction–You Got it!

One of the things the black community suffers from is an all or nothing condition. We have a tendency to see things in simple black and white terms without taking much time to examine the varying degrees of grays that might line the middle. In real terms, nothing is really black or white. There are always circumstances and nuances involved with the examination of any given situation. All black people suffer from white approval addiction. We want white people to love us so that we can feel better about ourselves.

It really isn’t that black and white. Such a simplistic view of black people does much to assuage a lot of the pain associated with the black condition. If we just stop trying to spin our wheels in a fruitless and misguided attempt to win white people’s approval everything else will fall into step. And while it may be true that some black people really do need the affirmation of the white community to feel good about themselves, for others, white people’s approval is an inescapable fact of our lives.

In America, the black community controls a tiny fraction of the wealth compared to our white compatriots. For every dollar controlled by the white community, the black community controls something in the neighborhood of two cents. And the divide between the haves and the have nots is magnified in the black community. Everybody loves to point to somebody like Montel [Williams] or Oprah Winfrey or Will Smith or Tiger Woods. In my opinion these are prime examples of the extreme case where black people bend over backwards to win the white community’s approval. But for every Oprah and Tiger out there living large, there are millions of black people who are struggling. In order to tap into the vast majority of wealth in America, we have no choice but to do our best to win white people’s approval.

In order to survive, chances are black people are going to have to go through a gatekeeper, someone who represents the racially generic dominant community predominantly controlled by white people or by ethnic minorities who have already demonstrated their allegiance to the system so heavily controlled by the white community. You want a job? You are going to have to win the approval of the gatekeeper with a job interview. You want to buy a house? There is another gatekeeper that will arrange a mortgage for you if they approve of your status. And there are countless other situations black people find themselves in where we have to do our best to win white people’s approval. More often than not, a jury of our peers will be controlled by white people. Our entire justice system is full of white people who are in a position to wreak havoc on our lives if we don’t win their approval.

While some of us might want to minimize black people’s general quest for white people’s approval as some inherent character flaw, it is something that is real and should not be so easily dismissed. Black people who have the audacity to say that they are going to go through their life without white people’s approval usually don’t get very far.

So with that understanding, it is important that we challenge instances of racism in order to protect the black community from the negative stereotypes that continue to plague our community. I bristle to hear somebody call black our young black women little more than nappy headed ho’s. I cringe when I see young black men railroaded by representatives of the justice system and law enforcement for some minor infraction. I won’t simply label a fight for justice and to keep a young man out of jail on trumped up charges a fight for white people’s approval even though, in the final analysis, that’s exactly what we are doing.

The way I see it, if white people see black people as nothing more than lesser beings undeserving of their approval, we will be treated as lesser beings not worthy of their approval. It would be easier to ignore the happenings and ridicule black people who are more sensitive to instances of racial discrimination as people in a desperate bid to feel better about themselves by getting a pat on the head. But I really don’t see it that way. Some people need such affirmation, but not everyone. Not every black person is suffering from a character flaw to build our self esteem with white people’s approval. All too often the struggle against racism is real.

And if there are black people who can go through life without white people’s approval then more power to them. I know I’m just not there. And even if I were, there are plenty of other black people who might need a little help from me in dealing with their own struggle against the establishment. When black people work together in these endeavors it makes it more difficult for the dominant community to deny who we are and it reminds everyone that we are a community. Otherwise, we might just look like a bunch of individuals trying to get our egos boosted.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. “Everybody loves to point to somebody like Montel Jordan…”

    I’m assuming you might have meant Montel Williams and/or Michael Jordan…b/c this had me a little confused??

    Anyway, really enjoying your writings. I have you on RSS, a first for any blog I’ve read in years.

    Comment by ThisIsHowWeDoIt | Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback ThisIsHowWeDoIt,

      I can never get that man’s name right. Montel Williams, the talk show host who said he wouldn’t be with another black woman because they don’t know how to treat a black man but has a string of failed relationships with white women, is who I was referring to. But Michael Jordan would do as well. They both shamelessly catered, and cater, to the dominant community.

      And I’m honored to be your first RSS feed in a while. I promise to do my best to keep it fresh and keep you coming back for more.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Reply

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