And if Michael Brown was not angelic, I was practically demonic. I had my first drink when I was 11. I once brawled in the cafeteria after getting hit in the head with a steel trash can. In my junior year I failed five out of seven classes. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been arrested for assaulting a teacher and been kicked out of school (twice.) And yet no one who knew me thought I had the least bit of thug in me. That is because I also read a lot of books, loved my Commodore 64, and ghostwrote love notes for my friends. In other words, I was a human being. A large number of American teenagers live exactly like Michael Brown. Very few of them are shot in the head and left to bake on the pavement.
The “angelic” standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious “morality” to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of “twice as good” while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community “with rough patches” becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily “black-on-black crime” becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing."
— Ta-Nehisi Coates, being amazing. (via politicalprof)
So a Black boy needs to be an angel in order to not be deserving of death? Is this the conclusion of the New York Times article?
This relates to the ludicrous nature of respectability politics.
In a way, respectability politics doesn’t really exist. I say that in the sense that it isn’t possible for a Black person to ever be worthy and valuable within a white supremacist context. This is abundantly true if an apparently reputable publication is using facts that are true of many American teenagers to paint Mike Brown as somebody deserving of being executed.
But even the New York Times article stepped around its true conclusion. It isn’t that Mike Brown deserved to die because he wasn’t perfect. He didn’t deserve to die because he got into “at least one scuffle” or because he had tried marijuana or because he wasn’t constantly on the honor roll. He deserved to die because he’s Black. According to white supremacist discourse every Black person deserves to die.
Fundamentally, the idea that being respectable will save you is dangled over Black people’s head. But it’s a false promise. Respectability politics is an ideology that Black people use to police ourselves — to limit ourselves. And to what gain?
There is no such thing as being a respectable Black person outside of the Black community. Everything that makes us respectable in our own eyes is dismissed in the larger world.
To be Black is to be un-respectable.
At the end of the day if our humanity can be parsed by not getting good grades or experimenting with drugs then we were never accorded humanity to begin with."
— excerpt from “He Was No Angel”: There is No Such Thing as Black Innocence" @ One Black Girl. Many Words. (via daniellemertina)
— James Baldwin (via orangeiguanas4)
I’m not one bit surprised. Obama has done exactly what he was put in office to do (or not do),