Sellout! Coon! Uncle Tom!
These racially-charged terms are used within the Black community to characterize Black individuals and/or groups who appear to express fealty to the White power structure to the detriment of their own community. These terms are also used to describe Blacks who do not capitulate to a liberal political philosophy. And this is where I would like to begin this conversation.
Earlier this week, former assistant to President Trump, Omarosé Manigault, resigned. Omarosa’s sudden exit did not go unnoticed within the Black community as many found this nonevent to be cause for celebration. Her departure from the White House inspired a host of memes and jokes, some of which were outright heartless and cruel. Good Morning America’s host, Robin Roberts, who is Black, even chimed in with her own crude remark, “Bye, Felicia.”
“Bye, Felicia” is a pop-culture reference which means “good riddance,” and is often used to express delight at someone’s dismissal. Robert’s use of “Bye, Felicia,” however, is more than a terse and dismissive remark. Her use of the term is tied to a deep-rooted disdain that is found within a large segment of the Black populace as it relates to Blacks whose political affiliation and/or worldview resembles or expresses what is deemed as conservative beliefs.
That is, whenever a Black individual voices a dissenting opinion or engages in a course of action that goes against the views of the Democratic party, that individual is treated as a pariah and considered to be a “sell-out.” In the minds of many, a true Black is a loyalist—one who not only votes Democrat and aligns him or herself with a liberal agenda, but also opposes any idea that reflects politically conservative views.
Without turning this post into a seventy-thousand word treatise, I offer, for your criticism, the following conclusions. Obeisance to any religious or political movement or party has the potential to create a reality that falls right into the opus of social intolerance and oppression. While there is not anything inherently wrong with been steeped in progressive culture, blind conformity and allegiance to any political party or philosophy has not historically favored disenfranchised groups.
When it comes to matters of social justice, race and race relations, there is a deep-seated and unquestionable skepticism that has besieged the Republican party. The root of this distrust is based not only on the toxic and denigrating rhetoric from party leaders, but also the overt indifference to the experiences of Blacks that harkens back to the Civil Rights era.
As a Black male who lives in America, I understand this palpable social construct and reality. I know what it feels like to be pulled over by white police officers with multiple guns aimed at my torso and head. I also know what it feels like to be arrested and jailed without cause or due process.
There is sufficient historical evidence to support Blacks’ skepticism of today’s US Grand Old Party. It can also be argued that the Democratic Party has dropped the ball and shifted its focus and message to identity politics, which often benefit those already in power. Even so, intellectual self-respect should encourage an openness to contrasting and divergent viewpoints.
Casting aspersions and denigrating another human being because of political differences is self-defeating and perpetuates division. In the long term, no people group can effectively achieve its aims, whatever those aims may be, if they lack the capacity or desire to work together. As a collective group, regardless of one’s race or ethnicity, we must unite in a spirit of open-mindedness to confront all forms injustice and inequity.
Express deference to any political party should never stand in the way of social progress. Yes, we are different, but acknowledging our differences is what makes us compelling, unique and powerful. Our differences, which compliment each other’s humanity, serve as the overarching element of change.
We have the capacity to create a more peaceful world based on an economy of love, but it requires that you and I choose diversity over division, hope over despair and love over indifference.
FYI: While I do not have a straightforward genetic inheritance, I am of African descent by way of the Caribbean. I grew up in a two-parent household. I lived the first few years of my life in public housing and have intimate knowledge and understanding of the pathology of poverty and crime. I moved to the US mainland at age 19, where I met my wife. I have lived on the US mainland (AL, LA, FL, MI, CA) for the last 23 years. I have traveled to over a dozen countries around the world. I am an academician by training. My political ideology is neither conservative nor liberal.
Featured image credit: Getty Images