pharrell

Earlier this year, Pharrell Williams sent social media and the web sphere into frenzy when he declared himself to be the “New Black”.  Williams defined “New Black” as somebody who “doesn’t blame other races for our issues. The “new black” dreams and realizes that it’s not a pigmentation; it’s a mentality. And it’s either going to work for you, or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re gonna be on.”

If only life was that easy for us “Old Blacks”.

But Williams isn’t the only to subscribe to this rhetoric. Plenty of black celebrities feel that once they’ve reached a certain status, that their struggles are behind them and that their color didn’t prevent them from reaching their goals.

If only life was that easy for us “Old Blacks”.

These “New Blacks” are delusional. The one thing they fail to realize is that once the fame and money is gone, they’ll be like Cinderella and turn right back into the “Old Black” they used to be. But you can’t tell them that now, as they bask in their New Blackness.

These “New Blacks” seem to live in this bubble and think that racism has somehow vanished and post-racial is an actual reality. But for those of us who watch the evening news and saw photos of Eric Garner getting chocked out by the NYPD, or for those of us who are keeping track of Renisha McBride’s trial, we all know post-racial is a façade.

This whole idea of the New Black isn’t anything new. Booker T. Washington’s “Bootstrap Theory” echoes the same sentiments of Williams’ new found version of blackness. Washington’s theory stated that the best way for a person or group of people to come up in the world is to create their own opportunities and lift themselves up by their bootstraps.

And this is what I could never relate to.

Sure, you can attempt to create your own opportunities, but don’t act as though the world has your back. Racism isn’t going anywhere. And if Washington was still alive today, he’d probably be proud of Williams and his ideology, even while being racially profiled during a shopping excursion at Macy’s.

But I’m sure Washington’s old rival; W.E.B. DuBois would have a different opinion.

DuBois believed protest was a necessary response to segregation, racism, abuse and disenfranchisement. He believed in higher education rather than vocational education. In his essay the “Talented Tenth,” which he wrote in 1903, he stated, “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.”

These exceptional men that DuBois spoke of knew of the obstacles that blacks were subjected to and struggled to overcome because of systematic racism and discrimination.

In our world today, we need more of the “Talented Tenth” and less of the “New Blacks”.

Whereas the “New Blacks” think they have all the power, the “Talented Tenth” blacks know that the ability to have the power is there, but the road blocks aren’t going away anytime soon. And the same issues DuBois and his counterparts faced back in their day still exist today. Chances are, they’ll be around for generations to come.

You have to give it to the “New Blacks” though, they talk a good game.  I’d like to challenge Williams and his “New Blackness” to ride around his old neighborhood at night, without an entourage, and see how his “New Black” probably won’t prevent him from being racially profiled.

I challenge those individuals who have declared themselves as the “New Black” to take a ride around their “Old Black” neighborhoods and preach the “New Black” rhetoric to those people who have lost loved ones due to being shot by racist cops or racist neighborhood patrolmen. Speak to those families who have sons and daughters locked in jail because of unfair sentencing practices.  Let’s just see how much these people care about this “New Black” bullshit.

For chrissakes, will the Talented Tenth please stand up?

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  • TreMolly

    I agree so much with the “talented tenth” ideology. The problem with what Pharrell is saying is that, yes you can make it but where is your responsibility to the rest of the young black men who need you to open up the doors for their survival and success. Other races collectively workTOGETHER so everyone is successful. Whites hold job positions for whites, patronize white business and ensure good housing loans for whites, have their own schools, etc.

    Asian men employ other Asian men because they love the Asian MAN. They are not worried about white people they depend on each other in order to build a success among themselves. Black people are quick to forget that we will not make it without each other and white people are threatened by our unity. Thanks Pharrell for pushing their agenda of “separate and unequal”.

    No one questions other races loyalty to each other but when we do it, we are holding grudges, being racist, cant move on and holding on to the past. We need the “Talented Tenth” to stand up and set a new standard because the black family has sunk to an all time low.

  • A famous saying, I have always adhered to is “Don’t try to reason with unreasonable people.” and one of the problems too many black folks in this country have is that they are more committed to fairness than the people they competing with and make no mistake about it, it is a straight up “dog eat dog” race out here.

    When some of us are in charge, our workforce is often diverse and reflects the customer base and the audience where as whites and many others are mot the least bit bothered if all their employees are of the same race or ethnic group. Our folks are out here breaking their necks trying to hire every Tom, Jose and Nancy when that is not being reciprocated in the marketplace. Everyone else works on strengthening their base and we are diluting ours acting as if the world like FOX News is fair and balanced.

    We do it in where we spend our money and how we participate politically. Giving no consideration to where our resources are going and to whom it provides benefit. The New Black thinking is a reflection us in general. How so many off us dilute our power with no thought to consolidation but to personal gain.
    Its what happens in places like Ferguson, MO where the Black majority made no effort to take control of the town they resided in to change the culture. How much you want to bet that there is some so called “black community leader” who was being paid to deliver black votes to the town’s white political leadership.

    We have been selling each other out to the white man for too long, when will we stop?

  • Jah See

    Those of the ‘Talented Tenth’ *did* consider themselves the “New Black” in their day. What were you talking about here?

    “Sure, you can attempt to create your own opportunities, but don’t act as though the world has your back. Racism isn’t going anywhere. And if Washington was still alive today, he’d probably be proud of Williams and his ideology, even while being racially profiled during a shopping excursion at Macy’s.

    But I’m sure Washington’s old rival; W.E.B. DuBois would have a different opinion.

    DuBois believed protest was a necessary response to segregation, racism, abuse and disenfranchisement. He believed in higher education rather than vocational education.”

    W.E.B. DuBois was an inclusionist, who ended up disillusioned [and self-imposed exile in Ghana]. His fight was one to get our people included & accepted into a system that wasn’t designed for his vision. Booker T. Washington’s vision was one of self-/ and community-sustenance. He never asked for the rest of the world to have his back. Heck if you think that of Washington, what have you to say about Marcus Garvey, who took that plan of Booker T’s & amplified by 100?