I’m watching Lee Daniels on HBO’s The Black List 3, and I’m struck by one thing he said:
“There’s an African American President, there’s Oprah, and then there’s…Us. I tell stories about Us.”
See, this is my major beef with a whole lotta the Black folks who don’t necessarily speak for us, but will sometimes talk like they do. There seems to be some sort of disconnect between what “regular” Black people do and what happens to the outliers. What puzzles me most is the threshold between “regular” and “outlier.” To use television families, I think many of us believe that Black people writ large are closer to the Evanses than we are to the Huxtables. And while it’s not quite in style to act like there aren’t any Huxtable families any more, it’s still okay to act like they’re Halley’s Comet.
While I can understand the “whatever you do to the least of these” philosophy that tends to accompany these types of projections, I don’t like to see what seems like self-negation. If a person has to act like he doesn’t exist in order to call attention to someone else’s plight, or to perhaps restate it more generously, take the focus off the possibilities he has enjoyed in order to highlight the “real” Us, is disingenuous. It’s someone who has done well but believes himself to be an outlier claiming that someone who is an outlier in the opposite direction is a more authentic representation.
I call false. The Black middle class is a lot more robust than many of us give it credit for being. I think a big part of my shift to the ideological center happened when I realized that I wasn’t as much an aberration as I had previously believed.
On The Black List 1, I saw something else that’s not as much an aberration as some folks would have us believe. Among some populations, there is the mistaken notion that Al Sharpton, to name a name, does not critique the excesses of Black popular culture. False. Even without making a big production of speaking about any specific artist, he actually went at the whole justification for certain genres of rap. But then, he always has.
I am kinda waitin to see if they’re gonna put a name-brand Black centrist or conservative on there, though.