The Grammys were brought to you by Donald Trump, a man who has managed to even make white America say “enough!” The the national mood of Trump resistance permeated the Grammys, accented by Katy Perry’s stance for “pantsuit nation,” Paris Jackson’s shot at DAPL and Laverne Cox’s call for solidarity with the trans community. These themes are popular in this moment of Anti-Trump fervor, black people still aren’t. While the NCAA is willing to boycott North Carolina over transgender rights, it said nothing when a US Court of Appeals essentially ruled that North Carolina was trying to block black people from voting. Seattle’s City Council (rightfully) voted to divest from Wells Fargo due to the bank’s ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline but when banks were found to have targeted blacks with subprime loans leading up to the economic collapse, municipalities never considered divestment. Black people are not and never have been en vogue. Wake up.
There is a surge of activism in response to Trump–from travel ban protests to the Women’s March–but that resistance does not necessarily include the core concerns of black people. That would be too risky for most, including many black folks. The stances taken at the Grammys are indeed important but not necessarily risky. Since most Americans support transgender rights and oppose so-called “bathroom bills,” even the NBA and PayPal have joined the NCAA in boycotting North Carolina, due to HB-2. Yet when voting, the most fundamental of American rights, was under attack the sports world batted not one eye nor did any corporation decide to abandon the state. The response of white liberals to DAPL helped to move the matter into the mainstream, such that it is more palatable to side with water protectors than clearly embrace the idea that “Black Lives Matter.” It is refreshing that thousands protested Trump’s travel ban at airports across the country but I don’t recall a massive non-black resistance to blacks being murdered on tape by police (although there certainly were and are white allies to the BLM movement). From the streets to the Grammys, ignoring black suffering carries no social consequences.
What troubles me is that routinely, blacks are asked to support every cause mainstream Democrats care about but reciprocity is often nonexistent. Yes, we as black people should stand up for all marginalized groups, even poor whites who are oppressed by the ruling classes. That said, it is hurtful that we cannot rely on those who ask us to support others to also stand with us. A Tribe Called Quest also performed at the Grammys and there is a significant lesson to be learned from their contribution to the show: if black people are to have our concerns voiced, we must voice them. Period. Our liberation is strictly our concern.
With this understanding, we should allow no one to question us when we advocate for ourselves. We must, for no one else will. Let no one shame you for caring about black people. It is not “racist” but simply rational and healthy to care for self. It is not “reverse racism” when we decide to vote and shop based on our interests. When you bank and buy black, it is a matter of self-preservation in a society that daily reminds us we do not matter. Until stars are lining up to denounce the injustices faced by black people daily, we must be focused on black power. Until the nation considers black concerns national concerns, every penny and ounce of energy we spend must be toward black liberation. We are not fashionable but it does not matter, for we are strong.