Tag: Donald Trump inauguration

womensmarch

No one cares if your car needs an oil change. No one but you, that is. A few mechanics might show some interest but only because they can benefit financially. You are the one person on the planet truly concerned about your engine oil. This simple truth helps us understand the white women who turned out in record numbers to march the day after the inauguration. Friends asked me why those same women did not turn out for Sandra Bland and frankly, the question is a silly one. For the millions of white women who marched after Trump’s election, the death of a black woman in the custody of police had no personal impact. Waiting for them to care is like waiting for me to come change your oil. Self determination must be the goal, this is but a reminder.

More than 2 million women across the world marched in direct response to Trump’s election. Trump represents a step backward in women’s rights and as such, they marched. Did Sandra Bland’s killing–and that of the many black women who have died at the hands of police–not represent a step backward? Not for the majority of the white women who participated in the March. Those killings did not register as their problem. This could have been predicted. We should remember that Trump was not regarded as universally disgusting to women (read white women) when he launched his campaign, regularly insulting Muslims and Mexicans. It was only after Trump was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault against white women that the “women’s vote” was assumed to be out of his reach. Muslims and Mexicans, your oil change, all the same.

You could argue that I should care about your oil change. Perhaps I will need a ride from you in the near future. If your engine fails while driving, I might end up in a fatal car accident with you. I should care about your oil change but I just don’t. Rather than wasting time trying to convince me to care about your car, you simply take the initiative to get your oil changed. This is precisely what black people must continue to do, daily. Allies are great but we should waste no time trying to convince people to care. Nothing in American history indicates that millions of white women would, collectively, turn out for a black woman who died at the hands of police. The challenges of black people–and black women in particular–have always been met with indifference and that will not change tomorrow. Therefore, we must commit to work toward self determination, today.

It is unfortunate that black women cannot count on their white counterparts to be consistent allies but I would be inconsistent if I did not point out that black men have also failed the ally test. If we are completely honest, we cannot fathom an entire movement being launched by the deaths of black women at the hands of police. That Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were men certainly helped other black men become active in the Black Lives Matter movement (which was largely launched by black women). As a black man, I struggle with the implications of this. Should we be lumped into the category of people black women cannot trust as true allies? This is the question black men must wrestle with and immediately answer. Until now, the question had scarcely been raised.

michele

Spike Lee announced that he would not be using Chrisette Michele’s song “Black Girl Magic” in his upcoming Netflix series. The reason? Michele had decided to perform for Trump (although she ultimately did not). Facing a strong current of white supremacy in America, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of blackballing someone because they sing at an inauguration. True, Michele and her “boycotting is not the answer” self is no Angela Davis but her performance at Trump’s inauguration isn’t holding us back as a people. A herd mentality that draws our focus to the surface and not the substantive is holding us back. Black people are diverse and should be allowed to think differently, so long as we are all committed to our progress as a race. Not sharing that commitment should get you blackballed, not singing a song.

So what, Michele wanted to perform at the inauguration. Our herd mentality, predictably, strongly reacts to that and we drag her. We did the same thing when she wrote her letter on the Black Lives Matter movement a while back. She said some questionable things but she also said a great deal that would be helpful, like encouraging people to attend city hall meetings. Why didn’t anyone rush to promote those parts? As soon as we hear something we don’t like, we discount all else and that is not helpful. Conservative or liberal, we all have some insight that would ultimately help us attain power as a people and that should be our focus, not blackballing each other. Sadly, the herd mentality just won’t allow for that level of thoughtful analysis. Most tragic, the surface level bickering distracts us from the substantive and that pattern of oversight has real and very damaging consequences. While we are blasting Michele for not hating Trump enough, countless other black celebs get a pass for being “woke” but do nothing to help us advance as a race.

How many black celebrities are actively creating opportunities for black people? How many invest their money with black owned investment firms? Is “Black Twitter” dragging anyone because they don’t do these things? We have enough entertainers and athletes that, if all were intentional about it, progress could be attained much more quickly. Love or hate him, LeBron James gets a lot of this right. Behind his billion dollar empire is his management team, once dubbed the “Four Horsemen.” They grew up together in Akron and rather than just hang out in clubs, LeBron decided that they would all learn the business world together and run his empire. Maverick Carter, his business manager and Rich Paul, his agent, are now giants in the business world. They are black men who earn millions every year and employ others. LeBron used his gifts as an athlete to create black wealth and impact his community. The celebs that do not possess enough commitment to their people to mimic LeBron are the ones we should be blackballing. Their actions help to perpetuate unemployment in our community, not Michele’s performance.

We do not live in an authoritarian state. We should be free to differ with each other and still work together to build up our community, without being blackballed. Plenty of white Hillary supporters probably don’t like Tom Brady’s love affair with Trump but he isn’t being thrown off of white people island, either. What black people should not tolerate are the celebs who are not committed to the values that will actually create black power. We should not tolerate black entertainers who take our dollars but don’t use them to create more opportunities for our community or even hire their own people. That should ignite “Black Twitter,” not a song.