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June 2013

Black Twitter always gets tripped up on respectability politics. The discussion of Rachel today makes me very sad. As PoC, we must mentally divest from white supremacy. Today’s discussion on Black Twitter is the reason why I love Zora Neale Hurston’s writing. Black vernacular is nothing to be ashamed of. We all can’t be ‘exceptional’ Northern negroes. Some of us are just ‘regular’ and we had the ‘misfortune’ of being born in the South. Can we live?

White supremacy says that PoC must be perfect—perfect meaning acceptable and presentable to whites. Good diction, proper grammar and strong command of English aren’t things that make people of colour more white, but we do judge PoC harshly when they don’t speak English or perform Blackness in a very specific way. The very stereotypes that we are placing upon Rachel are the ones that killed Trayvon Martin. Fictive kinship is killing us.

I still have to check myself when my respectability creeps up on me. Being human in the U.S. is an automatic for white people, but for others, we must audition for our citizenship and humanity. What does it say about us that we spent months hashtagging #IamTrayvonMartin but we think it is kosher to drag Rachel? What does it say about our activism? For all of you who took pics in hoodies showing your solidarity for Trayvon Martin but you’re belittling the person who spoke to him last—a 19 year-old baby who has probably had to bury other loved ones and families.

Because we’ve been socialized in a certain way, it is impossible to rid ourselves of the knee-jerk reaction to not engage in respectability politics, but when the feeling crops up honor and place to the side and press forward with doing the right thing.

The fact of the matter PoC, we will never make the cut. POTUS and FLOTUS can’t make the cut as PoC, so I know Rachel from Miami-Dade county can’t make the cut.

If it wasn’t for the white gaze, we wouldn’t be so harsh towards Rachel. Rachel isn’t just Rachel Jeantel; she now represents ALL 40 million Black folk in the U.S. So again fictive kinship says, ‘if she doesn’t present well, we are all fucked.’ That is what white supremacy wants you to think.

Your social media activism ain’t real if you haven’t integrated your politics into your life, world and affairs. Praxis. I am flabbergasted by the amount of people who are considered leaders in Black Twitter pandering to white supremacy.

And this rhetoric of policing language started very early in this Trayvon Martin case; it started when we were policing Attorney Crump. Many well-meaning Black folk weren’t impressed with Attorney Crump. He wasn’t a slick talking/sounding Northern Negro.

We can’t be so busy policing others that we forget to police ourselves.

Black women who look and sound like Rachel aren’t meant to survive in this white supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchal society. Black women are only allowed to be Jezebel, Sapphire or Mammy. Renounce that thinking. Undue burden is placed on the Black female body to represent ALL of Blackness.

I read Sister Citizen last year and it saved my life. It help me let go of fictive kinship. We all must check our fictive kinship and tell it to have a seat. No one Black person can ‘bring down the race’ or set us back. Let go of that white supremacist thinking.

I hope that I have given you something to chew on. I know for many of us, the talented tenth is still a real thing for us, but again…have a long talk with your fictive kinship and then bury it.

You ain’t radical, revolutionary or love Black people if dragging Rachel J. was an acceptable sport for you today. Rise above the BS. We all must do better. We all must ask ourselves ‘where in my life do I support and uphold white supremacy?’

I stand with Rachel J.




BOOM! This quote is from her tweets last night.

I was also disgusted with what I saw yesterday. I recall the people who slammed Attorney Crump last year after Angela Corey (the same one responsible for the prosecution AGAINST Marissa Alexander) announced that Zimmerman would be charged with 2nd degree murder. Many Black progressives insulted Crump’s accent (and questioned his intelligence) and the South in general. They couldn’t see how that insult connects to the same line of White supremacist thinking that makes people believe Trayvon deserved to be murdered for simply existing as a young Black teen wearing a hoodie, though hoodies aren’t required for murder while Black. Oscar Grant, Aiyana Jones and Rekia Boyd weren’t wearing hoodies.

Like she mentioned above, socialization is why the urge to jump into respectability politics framing and the fear of the White Gaze exists for Black people. We have to be vigilant in rejecting this type of thinking every time it surfaces.

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