Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Re-n*ggerizing of the Black Professional Class

While giving an interview, Dr. Cornel West made an interesting observation when discussing President Obama.  He said that there is a “re-n*ggerizing” of the Black professional class (about 27 minutes into the interview).  In other words, the professional class of Black folks refuse to say anything negative about the President or his criminal agenda, in order to prevent the President from looking bad to others and “taming” the anger toward the President among lower class Blacks.  Through these actions (or lack thereof), true progress and equality among Blacks are further worsened.  Let’s explore this, in terms of “justice.”

The United States of America has a history of slavery, black codes, and Jim Crow.  The criminal justice system was used as a method of social control to further oppress Blacks.  In other words, Blacks were more likely to be arrested, jailed, denied due process rights, convicted, incarcerated, etc.  Several law enforcement officers, attorneys, and judges were overtly racist, which further perpetuated and deepened the distrust between Blacks and criminal justice practitioners.  If these problems are to be adequately addressed, are we losing potential progress through the re-n*ggerizing of the Black professional class?

Without discussing the truth (or not!) of Dr. West’s point, let’s further examine the role of Blacks (regardless of social class) in helping achieve justice in this country.  The “clients” and residents of the criminal justice system are disproportionately poor and minority.  Once convicted, regardless of the sentence, they are now convicted offenders.  Depending on the offense, it could eliminate the ability to receive financial aid for higher education.  We have a public school system that is systematically biased (e.g., school resources, funding, college prep classes, etc.) against poor people.  There is a blocking of legitimate job opportunities in lower class communities.  All of these issues increase the likelihood of criminal behavior, and once convicted, the probability of committing additional crime increases.  Unfortunately, when there is a disproportionate number of minorities living in lower class areas, minorities (especially Blacks) suffer serious social ills.

During all of the major movements in American history (e.g., Civil Rights Movement, Gay Rights Movement, Women’s movement, etc.), those who participated focused on the human/natural rights of everyone.  In other words, Whites were protesting with Blacks to help fight legal segregation.  Heterosexuals were protesting with gays to help fight legal definitions of marriage.  Black professionals must protest with lower class Blacks (along with other races/ethnicities!) to fight a criminal justice system and criminal laws that have been deeply discriminatory against Blacks since their beginning.  How much longer must we deal with a system that is openly racist!  This is a human/natural rights’ issue!  If the Black professional class is being re-n*ggerized (per Dr. West’s assessment), the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin should demonstrate that Black boys (regardless of social class) are susceptible to negative outcomes because of profiling and implicit/subtle racism.

Are the Black professionals being re-n*ggerized, in order to shield Obama, resulting in further injustice among other Blacks (especially those in lower social classes) in the criminal justice system?  This is an interesting and very appropriate, question.

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