Where do I find “community”?
Commentary by Chitown Kev
For last Sunday’s Abbreviated Pundit Roundup, the opening was a link to and an excerpt of new Pew Research Center polling that identifies how Black people link their Blackness to a sense of personal identity. Because I had only begun to read the Complete Report (located at the top and to the right of the summary of findings) I did not want to comment much on the report other than to say that the nuances of the report were “very interesting.”
Including this bit:
A small share (14%) of Black Americans say they have everything or most things in common with Black people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). The majority of Black Americans say they have few things or nothing in common (60%) with LGBTQ Black people.
As Willona Woods would say, “Ain’t that a blip?”
I even went into the questionnaire itself and one question in this survey was, “How important are each of these characteristics to how you think about yourself?”
Perhaps I need to delve deeper into the data to discern what the answers given to that question actually means; for example, both my Blackness and my being a gay man are very important aspects to my identity and I could well see how both straight and LGBTQ Black folks would say that their sexual orientation or/and gender identity is an important part of their identity... and their Blackness.
I signed up here at Daily Kos on June 5, 2009 with a mission.
At the time, I had just discovered the “blogosphere” a few months before in the aftermath of California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. And there was a lot of discussion about the role of the Black vote in that outcome; some of that commentary was racist.
My primary hangouts in the blogosphere at that time were the gay blogs; chiefly the Black gay blogs Pam’s House Blend and Rod 2.0 along with two gay blogs that I would say are “majority white”: Joe.My.God and Towleroad. For mainstream news and internet conversation, I mostly relied on The Huffington Post.
In spite of some of the racism at the majority gay white blogs, I did feel a sense of community there and, of course, I always checked in to Pam’s House Blend and Rod 2.0...but I was dissatisfied with Huffington Post for reasons that I won’t get into here.
I had a desire to at least try to reach out to and seek online community with straight Black folks and it was while rummaging through some of the links at Pam’s that I came across shanikka’s Prop 8 diary, “Facts Belie the Scapegoating of Black People for Proposition 8.”
Based mostly on shanikka’s diary and surfing around this site, I decided to sign up here at Daily Kos and y’all haven’t been able to get rid of me since!
In other words, I came to Daily Kos specifically to seek community with straight Black folks and here, I have found it . In fact, a lot more than straight Black folks are included in what I consider to be my Daily Kos community now.
As far as straight Black community in real (non-online) life...the results of the Pew survey do not completely surprise me but I’m like: Damn, most Black people really do think that I am a mutant of some sort.
Across all demographics.
I was born into a Black family. I was raised by a Black family. I’ve been fortunate to know more than a little bit about my Black ancestry for the overwhelming majority of my life.
I am a Black man in American society and all that comes with that.
In large part, I am bringing this entire topic of “community” up because the topic happens to be some of the same concerns and questions that I am asking of myself in various therapeutic environments.
The conclusion that I reached some years ago was that “community” is where I find it and make it and, in the words of the title of one of the books by anthropologist Benedict Anderson, where I “imagine” it. That has not changed. Much of what my therapy is about now is the continuing negotiation of necessary boundaries.
In spite of being a bit sad, confused, and even angry at the specific results of this Pew survey as it pertains to Black LGBTQs specifically I will say this: I now take a bit more comfort in the fact that I wasn’t making this s*it up (and I have been told exactly that); it reflects a reality that I know better than I would like.
NEWS ROUND UP BY DOPPER0189, BLACK KOS MANAGING EDITOR
A new case just arrived on the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket” that could upend a quarter-century of higher education policy and end diversity programs that were once on the cutting edge of conservative thinking. Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board is a significant escalation in the school admissions wars, because it rests on the assumption that the current crop of Republican judges will not tolerate diversity programs that do not explicitly consider race.
Twenty-five years ago, as governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed a law creating the state’s “top 10 percent” rule, which, as the name implies, guarantees Texas students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class admission to state-funded universities. The program is still in effect today, although the state’s flagship school, the University of Texas at Austin, now only accepts the top 6 percent of students due to an increase in applicants.
The 10 percent rule was enacted in response to a 1996 federal appeals court decision, which struck down an affirmative action program at UT-Austin’s law school. But it quickly took on a political life of its own. As a candidate for president, and later as president, Bush touted the 10 percent plan as a conservative alternative to affirmative action programs that explicitly took account of race when deciding who to admit.
The idea behind the plan was that it would open the doors of Texas’s best public universities to students at predominantly Black or Latino high schools, many of whom historically were unlikely to attend places like UT-Austin.
And yet, this program, which was a centerpiece of Bush’s higher education proposals and which has been emulated by red and blue states alike, is now threatened by the Coalition for TJ case pending before the Supreme Court. Coalition for TJ involves a highly selective public high school that switched less than two years ago to an admissions process that mirrors the Texas rule, partially to create a more diverse student body. The arguments advanced by the plaintiffs in this case potentially threaten any program undertaken for the purpose of fostering diversity at selective schools.
The Coalition for TJ plaintiffs, moreover, have a very real shot of prevailing. The Supreme Court, with its 6-3 Republican supermajority, is increasingly hostile toward any effort to lift up racially disadvantaged groups. And it is widely expected to strike down affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina next year.
But a victory for these plaintiffs would still be an enormous escalation by the Supreme Court, as it would potentially rule out programs that are race-neutral — meaning that they do not require school officials to consider the race of individual applicants when deciding who to admit — but that were enacted in order to foster greater diversity.
Kris Manjapra’s new book, “Black Ghost of Empire,” examines the ways white slaveholders were compensated, while formerly enslaved people were not. The New Republic: A Reckoning With How Slavery Ended
In 1955, C. Vann Woodward, the nation’s preeminent historian of the South, published a brief history of Southern segregation that Martin Luther King Jr. would call “the Bible of the civil rights movement.” The Strange Career of Jim Crow, as the book was titled, was intended to counter a common defense of segregation at the time—that it had “always been that way.” By showing that legal segregation emerged only in the 1890s, and only after attempts at interracial democracy during Reconstruction were overthrown, Woodward provided civil rights activists with a usable past: a short but rigorous history that could serve the cause of desegregation.
Kris Manjapra’s brief and important new book, Black Ghost of Empire, fits squarely within the usable past genre. To make the case for reparations in its broadest sense—not just for monetary compensation but also for a genuine repair of the relationship between Black and white people—Manjapra examines not slavery itself but the inequalities that arose during emancipation. Manjapra, an accomplished historian of race and colonialism at Tufts University, argues that wherever one looks, the legal process of emancipation was more or less the same: Slaveholders, not slaves, were given monetary compensation when slaves were freed, and new forms of racial exploitation emerged that only “prolonged and extended the captivity and oppression of black people around the world.” By highlighting the long afterlife of slavery—and the many new forms of racial oppression that emerged in slavery’s wake—Manjapra takes direct aim at the idea that abolishing slavery was enough.
A great strength of this book is its sheer sweep. Manjapra details how emancipation unfolded not only in the Northern United States and then the entire nation but also in Latin America, Haiti, the British empire, and Africa. The gradual emancipation that began at the state level in the U.S. North, he argues, provided the template that other European colonies and states in the Americas would follow. In 1780, Pennsylvania enacted the nation’s first gradual emancipation law, in which slaveowners were compensated not with cash payouts but with the prolonged service of enslaved Black people. Only enslaved children born after the law went into effect were freed, and only after serving for 18 years.
In the subsequent two decades, all the other Northern states followed suit, enacting laws so lenient that slaveholders could, with minimal effort, recategorize enslaved people as “servants,” “indentures,” or “apprentices” and still remain within the letter of the law. In 1804, New Jersey became the last Northern state to enact a gradual emancipation law, but Manjapra shows that it was so meekly designed that by 1830, the state held two-thirds of the North’s enslaved population, and it did not fully abolish slavery until 1846—although, again, owners could keep their former slaves as “apprentices.” In truth, Manjapra writes, slavery did not completely end in the North until it ended in the South, with the Civil War.
The upcoming MOBE symposium for Black entrepreneurs shines a light on a continued problem in the industry: Black-owned companies get a tiny portion of marketing dollars.
How small? Statista.com projects a 2020 ad spend of $240 billion. All minority firms get about 5% of that spend, meaning Black-owned firms get even less.
“Look at our culture,” said Curtis Symonds, chief executive officer of the streaming service HBCU GO TV. “We don’t lack ideas. We lack capital.” HBCU GO TV is owned by Allen Media Group, and Byron Allen, who also owns TheGrio, is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Allen Media Group.
Allen and Symonds are both slated to speak at MOBE’s 2022 symposium, which brings together Black entrepreneurs to discuss changes and opportunities in business. MOBE — which stands for “marketing opportunities in business and entertainment” — will hold this year’s gatherings on Thursday, April 21 and Friday, April 22 on the Hopin platform. Attendees are getting more than a conference, according to Yvette Moyo, MOBE’s founder, and registration is open now.
MOBE is where Black people renowned as experts in their fields come together to discuss business issues in a place where they will not be dismissed. Its virtual series, MOBE Mondays, keeps members connected while learning from one another. Recent statistics show how difficult the business world continues to be for Black entrepreneurs.
As he drives away from a coffee shop, Marshall Johnson (played by Justin Bartha) is trailed by a mysterious turquoise car. It pulls up at his house, he answers the door—and is served with a reparations claim. His ancestors were slave-owners and, amid a rippling restitution push, Marshall’s life unravels. Colleagues frantically take dna tests to prove they are of blameless stock. “I’m Peruvian,” his estranged wife declares. “You were white yesterday,” he replies.
Unsettling, funny and deadly serious, episode four in the third and latest season of “Atlanta” is—at least for white viewers—a kind of satirical anxiety dream. Neither Donald Glover, the show’s creator and lead actor, nor its other regular stars appear. These surprises are to be expected. Since it first aired in 2016, “Atlanta” has conducted an escalating experiment in form, even as it crafts an offbeat exposé of poverty and racial injustice. The perfect fit between method and message makes it a powerful and original work of art.
At first, the show felt like a sitcom—if Samuel Beckett and James Baldwin had written one together. Mr Glover is Earn, a Princeton drop-out whose cousin Alfred (Brian Tyree Henry) raps under the name Paper Boi. Earn wants to be his manager and has a child with Van (Zazie Beetz). Alfred has a trippy, philosophical housemate called Darius (LaKeith Stanfield). From the start, “Atlanta” dispensed with the niceties of exposition and tired machinery of plot. Banality bled into surrealism and hallucination: an invisible car, a bow-tied shaman on a bus.
Things spiralled from there. An entire episode consisted of a mock talk show on which Paper Boi argued with a white activist about trans rights in a dizzying, multifaceted satire; a spoof news report featured a black teenager who identified as a 35-year-old white man. In the second season Darius was trapped in a Gothic mansion by a psychopathic music legend who resembled Michael Jackson. The gun Earn acquired in the season premiere went off in the finale, but not as Chekhov might have predicted.
The guiding principle of “Atlanta” seems to be never to compromise with the executives at fx, the network that commissioned it, nor with the audience (in Britain the latest series will be available on Disney+). After a four-year hiatus, the new run opens with two unknown men fishing on a haunted lake; most of the first episode tells the tale of a black child adopted by a pair of sinister white women.
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