Selling Out: Do Some Blacks Think Diversity is Bullshit?

By Tracy Renee Jones

Malcolm X had a gun and said “Respect me, or put me to death.”

Martin Luther King had a dream….blah, blah…and it went a little something like this:
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today”.Well apparently, Martin Luther King had a dream but many Blacks are all too comfortable holding onto a historically self-sabotaging class system of beliefs that are the exact opposite of Dr. King’s vision of ‘equality’.

Some Blacks think equality is just a nice thought, because I don’t think they actually believe that ‘the White ma’ is willing to (or capable of) viewing Blacks as equal. And quiet as it’s kept; these same Blacks do not want to re-evaluate their own precious perception of themselves as a sub-standard race. They would never openly admit they themselves don’t see Blacks as being equal to Whites and they want to make sure that people like me don’t think I’m equal either.

“Oh, So You Think You’re Better”

Shit, if I had a dime for each time someone started a derogatory rant with this line right here. It’s often the prerequisite before the laundry list of reasons I am not ‘better’ than them. They will point out each and every visual and assumed indicator of why I must feel ‘better than’ them and how each visual indicator isn’t good enough. They make sure to remind me that I’m not White and therefore I am NOT equal (and I dam sure don’t matter either).

In the end ‘You Ain’t Nothing but a Nigger’

I might even get lucky and if time permits I can also be reminded of how NO WHITE person thinks of me (or any other race) as their equal, they never have and they never will. Certain Blacks are CONVINCED that if a White person had to choose between a person of color (Black?) and another random White person; the White will definitely be chosen. I’ve even been told that bi-racial marriages aren’t about love; they are above the White man possessing the Black woman. No White loves ANY Black. In other words they want to me/you to stop being silly and realize that we all have less value than a White person so why don’t I stop fooling myself and take this nice comfy seat in the colored section of the train and STFU.

But Whose The Real Sell Out?

It’s not hard to find a Black person willing to accuse another of being a ‘sellout’. It’s a term I have lived with so long that I can’t quite recall at exactly what point in time I began to earn the moniker. You see, being a ‘sellout’ is something I do mindlessly. And what’s even more confusing to me is that I have been accused of being a ‘sellout’ for all of the qualities that I value within myself. I am labeled a ‘sellout’ for having friends of different races and that I do not feel inferior among them; our cultural differences do not make us UNEQUAL. Rather, our cultural mix and diversity makes us ALL more interesting.

I’ve often been accused of being a ‘sellout’ for dating men of other nationalities in my teen and adult life. All I was doing was working the grown up version of the crushes I experienced during my multi-ethnic grammar school years. Back then, my class pictures looked like a United Nations poster; puberty and hormones directed my affection to boys whose features spanned the range of ethnicity far and wide. But my appreciation for the beautiful of others doesn’t mean that Black is any less beautiful; why must I choose?

I was fully aware of each boy’s country of origin but never viewed them as being ‘different’ than I. It dam sure never struck me as their being better than me. They were just cute and fun and something about them made me like them. And considering my first kiss came from a honey toned boy from Chile’ I’ll have to presume that some of them actually liked me back. The wedding photos on Facebook make it clear that many of them married who they loved even when the person didn’t ‘look like them’. So much for ‘staying with your own kind’; I wonder how many of their parents told them not venture past the line of race?

I thought the way I spoke was normal until some of neighborhood kids commented that I talked ‘white’ (used standard grammar or proper sentence structure) and that I listened to ‘white’ music (Rock and Classical). Confused about the comment, I asked my Native American, Alabama boycott active, Civil Rights advocate , retired school teacher grandmother (who contributed to my proper diction and large vocabulary) what the kids meant when they said that I ‘talked White’? Some of the White kids I knew didn’t earn grades as good as I did on their Spelling tests; so I spoke better than ‘Whites’ in my mind. I just didn’t get the insult.

Where did some Blacks get the idea that there is an unspoken rule within the African-American community to maintain the “negro” character at all times or risk being labeled a traitor (sellout). It’s embarrassing to me to see the same old early media representations of Blacks that are nothing more than re-mixed versions of Black face, Coons, And Uncle Remus and Tar Baby. Shit, I think officially stopped watching television once Flavor-Flav got a reality show and I wondered WHO IS THIS MINSTREL!! And better yet, why is he in my television set dancing a ‘jig’?

And who the hell are these Blacks that appointed themselves in charge of “BLACKNESS” and why do they think they get to set the rules for each brown person’s identity. They perform modern day witch hunts seeking those “Blacks” who have the gall (I call it an opportunity) to set aside or fail to accept their version of “Blackness”. This version of Black is routinely ridiculed, ousted, or undermined.

What’s even more insulting is when high reaching Black role models (my president IS Black and I don’t give a fuck what ‘you people’ say!) are frantically scrutinized for any imaginary indication that they are not ‘Black enough’. What’s most shameful is that the proof of one’s lack of “Blackness” is usually directly correlated to their success. This view reinforces the self perception that Blacks do not succeed and any who do succeed are not ‘real’ Blacks. This is the exact opposite of what I was taught; that any person can do anything they so desire as long as they put work in behind it and focus on their goals. Grandma’s advice has been tested and remains true, at least to me, that is.

Blacks who maintain an attitude of failure and victim-hood aren’t capable or willing to see themselves as equal. Because of this mindset, these inferiority loving Black folks would never be able to consider the concept of Whites presuming that Blacks share an equal stake in humanity. They can’t see the forest for the trees (and must be very confused because there are no bodies dangling from said trees).

It’s quite clear that the term sellout means disloyalty. The Blacks that fling the word around want me to know that they feel betrayed by the differences between us. But I’m not sure why and don’t really care. Does the complexion of my skin cause me to be required to follow the Knee-Grow Rule Book or else I’ll be called an Oreo (Black on the Outside; White on the inside). Do Black people realize that not every one with brown skin is African American? God forbid a person asserts their country of origin or choose to identify with a cultural affiliation more so than with either side of the black or white coin. How do we expect the world to embrace diversity when some of us refuse to.

Truth be told, since I think those who are fearful of moving forward as a culture are the actual sellouts. After all that marching, after all those that died for the opportunity for all people to be accepted and relevant and all the progress we’ve made as a nation, it’s sad to realize that some Blacks regardless of what may be possible for us will always and forever see themselves and others as being ‘just a Nigga’ or a sad imitation to what they hold dear….White people.