Are you serious?
Just in case the phrase isn’t known to you:
Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous and compatible with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for its failure to accept difference.
The thought was: if we (people of color) would adopt the mores and behaviors of the dominant subculture, we would be more acceptable, and gain greater opportunities in America, despite our unfortunate circumstances starting as chattel slaves in this country.
But no matter how well behaved, how educated, how well we assimilated, there was still this undercurrent held by the dominant subculture that we would always be subhuman and never worthy of respect or opportunity if they had anything to do about it.
You might recognize some of them in this picture. What about that building in the background. You might say racism is as American as mom’s apple pie.
For the record: I don’t recall asking for your fucking opinion about how I should behave.
Often when a Black person has an opinion especially counter to the cultural norm the first thing White culture says is: Calm down.
I have spent my entire life being calm and reasonable and letting White culture tell me how I shouldn’t be upset about racial disparity in American society while being discriminated against everyday of my life.
I’m done with that. If my invective disturbs, good. It’s about time someone call things the way they are rather than pretending nothing is going on.
When issues like the social inequities I mentioned are a thing of the past, then I’ll calm the fuck down.
How does it look to tell me to calm down, anyway? The real question should be: Why aren’t you as incensed about this as I am. When any one of us is discriminated against, it creates fertile ground for ALL of us to be abused at a later date.
Why is it when someone has an unpopular opinion about racial issues the first thing to get mentioned is how I make myself look bad by speaking up against RACISTS?
When did America become a country where we condone clearly questionable behavior and tell me speaking out makes ME look bad?
Was it my tone? Was it something I said? Oh, how about we focus on the problems I mentioned rather than my fucking tone.
Physician, heal thyself.
Just in case you think you know me, or understand how I think or what motivates me, perhaps you need to read a bit further.
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Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.