Wednesday, April 30, 2008

By request – Debunking Acceptable Blackness through the second coming of the Rev. Wright drama…

This bitch is stressed the fuck out with work-based things.

Fuck a duck, where’s a large bar of chocolate when you need one?


Anyhoo, a certain Peterr sent this bitch an e-mail asking for my take on the second coming of the Rev. Wright drama and was specifically interested in whether this has anything to do with Acceptable Blackness.

Well Peterr, this bitch thinks it does.

Shall we?

A bitch has blogged about Acceptable Blackness before and how the concept pisses me the fuck off. Basically, acceptable blackness is the grown up version of the bullshit some white students used to toss at this bitch when we were in Junior High and they were feeling threatened by the black students being bused in from the city.

“Why can’t they be black like you, Shark-Fu? They sound so mad and I don’t understand them and they dress weird and blah blah followed by blah.”

I realized rather quickly that my fellow students mistook my “proper” speech and my adoration of preppified pastel fashion (shit, it was a phase…mercy) as some other kind of less threatening and more acceptable blackness.

But they were wrong.

A bitch was just as angry…just as tired of their materialistic greed based vacant judgment of others…just as black and therefore just as unacceptable as my bused in brothers and sisters.

Acceptable blackness is defined as the absence of overt culture and of difference. It is a level of conformity that requires absolute perfection. One break…one mistake…and the illusion is shattered, once broken never to be repaired again.

And the perfection isn’t limited to not indulging in public displays of blackness. Oh no, acceptably black requires perfection in your appearance, manners, speech, family, friends and associates.

I’m not talking about not having unacceptable black friends. I’m talking about not having unacceptable friends…or family…or associates…or pets...or hair...or neighborhood...or car...or musical tastes.

Achieve that perfection and your black ass is acceptable…to a bunch of trigger happy assholes that soothe their privileged guilt by letting you tag along, all the while prepared to lay down harsh and rigid judgment should your perfect mask crack.

That brings me to the second coming of the Rev. Wright drama…


..and the over the top and artificially disturbed reaction some people are having to the Revs self.

Is this a political story?

Is it really?

Do people honestly believe that Senator Obama believes/supports/embraces everything that comes out of Rev. Wright’s mouth?


Or is this about that faux perfect acceptably black mask that Senator Obama never put on himself being removed through unfortunate circumstance to display a real person…with real and totally normal Pastor drama…who fumble a bit in dealing with it because it was real and personal and he is human and so, duh, flawed…and what that lack of absolute perfection does to some people’s ability to maintain…oh Gawd, there’s that word again…tolerance?

Can I get an amen?

Lawd, have mercy now...


Jonzee said...

I hope to be more like you when I grow up.

'Cause this shit added to the debate I had about value of an HBCU education, had this other bitch hot as hell yesterday. Every time I tried to be my "fact-using to break your argument apart" self, I became an angry ranting person who needed a drink and a cigaretter (and I don't even smoke)

Here are two looks at this Wright mess. Quite thoughtful and balanced compared to the haranguing going on amongst the "appalled and dismayed" screamers. I thought I would share with you. One is from Melissa Harris-Lacewell and the other one from Tyrone on the Southside

Aby said...

Thank you! I've been lurking a long time and just had to say THANK YOU for laying this shit out in no uncertain terms.

Anonymous said...

As a white insider, I totally agree, ABB. Most of my people are absolutely vigilant about slip-ups from the blacks they've allowed to be around them. "Acceptable blackness" is the perfect concept to express this, and it's really a wonder to me how the black professionals I know hold up under the stress.

Also, of course, new black professionals, those seeking a job in almost-all-white workplaces, get scrutinized with this big ol' microscope that suddenly appears (I think its kept in the janitor's closet). When a seriously possible black job applicant comes in, all the white professionals suddenly get really concerned in a dozen new ways about whether this person is really right for the job.

"Professionals." Huh.

Unknown said...

Amen to your blessedly unacceptably black self, Shark-fu!

Ah, tolerance . . .

A wise friend of mine once called it a dirty word, because it implies that the "I" of "I tolerate you" is putting him/herself in the place of God, granting the "you" the right to exist, despite the "you's" obvious failings.

Go Go Jo Jo said...

I lurk here sometimes. And I just want to say thank you for this post. I'm going to go look up the other posts you have on acceptable blackness.

This speaks to my entire experience in college. And the more I rip away that outer layer of acceptability the more *cough* interesting my relationships become with my "white allies."

But it makes me happier so I'm just gonna keep it moving.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. From an extremely liberal opinionated white woman(another tolerated concept) who agreed with many of the Rev.'s comments, I thought this mess was ridiculous and proves that this country is not nearly where we think we are. I respect him for speaking what many people are even afraid to think.

On "acceptable blackness" - I know tons of people who treat their "tolerated" black friends that way. One passionate or angry word out their mouths, and they're suddenly "ghetto" or "bitter." My own personal favorite on being a white feminist - I'm a "bitch" or "on the rag."

And Peterr - I do agree about the word "tolerance." I think it needs to be replaced fully with the word "acceptance" - although that word has some issues as well.

Maybe "embrace" or something to that effect would be better.

MC said...

I just have to say that "blah blah followed by blah" + a pastel shirt = awesome.

Anonymous said...

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- C-Money, Boutique Manager

p.s. Special requests for artwork/merch combos will be granted. If you don't see the art you want on the gear you want, just send an e-mail to ABB and I'll get it done!

p.p.s. ABB Acceptably Black gear is the perfect gift!!! Don't wait. Act now!

Rodentia said...

I haven't bothered with the details of the latest nonsense, but from what I've heard summarizing what Wright and Obama have said, it seems to me like, duh: I agree with them both. It just goes to show that different people can have different ideas about how to talk about race (or other "difficult" subjects in public).

Anyhoo. It's annoying me that the Obama supporters are saying shit like Wright's being self-serving (oh noes) or politically unwise (whatever). The man's criticized in public, he has an opportunity to defend himself--and lay out his view of the world to a large audience--he takes it. So?

Obama disagrees with some of the stuff his pastor says: you don't say. He feels compelled (by people making it An Issue) to distance himself explicity from the things he doesn't agree with, whatever, jeez, can we please move the fuck on now?

Sorry. It bugs me. Thanks for letting me rant.

M Groesbeck said...

I still catch myself pulling the "acceptable" garbage. The Obama/Wright/(every "no, really, I'm not racist" white commentator in the country) bit is just painfully obvious on this, though...embarrassingly blatant.

Anonymous said...

Righter words have never been spoken to my ears. I've avoided adding you to my blogroll, because, well, I'm a respectable Evangelical Christian woman for goodness' sake! And my peeps like their opinions tenderized and prepared by professionals, definitely not raw. But what's the point of me writing you a comment and saying I'm liking your blog a lot, if I don't take to heart what you've written? Later for being an acceptable Black Evangelical. I'm going with being real. Consider yourself blogrolled.

E. Bunny said...

Amen! Amen!

How does grown up me deal with the whole "why can't 'the others' be like you" question/unmitgated gall?

I smile like Professor Umbridge (Harry Potter) and tell them "don't let my Huxtabilian facade fool you."

(Aw man, this bunny just wanted to lurk.)

Anonymous said...

Shark-Fu; While I agree with your comments, what of the argument that some of your peers are pandering that Obama is not playing nice with his fellow black brothers and sisters. Since Obama has been critical Sharpton's actions in NYC this week, some have said that the black power brokers are saying that they are becoming agitated by Obama's views. These same black leaders are afraid that if people buy into this that they will loose a certain amount of power. If Obama looses they will have years and years of sunday morning sermons how the white constintuency keeps the brothers and sisters down, thus gaining more popularity and becoming even wealthier by everyone's weekly donations.

Consipiracy theory?? Maybe, but also a real possibility with White and Black American's constant hunger for greed and fear of loosing that endless spicket of intolerance.

Shark-Fu said...

a.anjeanette - Oh my and thank you! I suspect you are not the only Evangelical visiting here (wink). Welcome!

Power corrupts and I didn't need the Obama candidacy to know that there are several so-called black leaders who resent the hell out of anyone who dares to actually stand up and lead.

But Senator Obama's run is a challenge not to those so-called leaders but to black people who will need to decide between the show (which has gotten us no where fast and has been tired as hell for over a decade) and a candidate for President who is making the case that our concerns and needs are American concerns and needs, that our empowerment is American empowerment.



The same old power hungry, damn the people and "oooh look! a camera!!" bullshit?


Anonymous said...

This 'acceptable' this and that applies to all minorities in different ways -- women, gays, lesbian, trannies, asians, etc. etc.

Majority white people want a reality that fits how they think, not a reality where someone doesn't think or act the way they want/expect.

Thank you, Tom

BOSSY said...

A-men. With an Ah-men thrown in for good measure.

R. Bittar said...

Interesting that you bring up middle school. I'm white, and I have a white friend who is openly prejudiced against black people. As far as I can tell his prejudice is based almost solely on his personal experience of having been picked on by some of the black kids in high school. I've tried to explain to him how ridiculous and illogical his prejudice is, but to no avail. He's a good guy in almost every other way. Which raises an interesting parallel to me. Should I disavow his friendship because of this one, albeit serious, flaw? Does that negate everything else about him that I like and respect? Or is it okay to see people as complex and flawed and accept them while not condoning their less than admirable qualities?

Blue Girl, Red State said...

Well fuckin' put! I was the only Jewish kid in the entire highschool I attended in one of the northern tier counties of this red state, where my grandparents were kosher farmers. When shit happened in the middle east, I heard the same damned words...'cept uglier because I look like the slack-jawed, bigoted cretins.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Wright is a poor speaker and a contentious person who is not interested in supporting Barack. Why are people not seeing that this is the point. It's not his crap about Liberation Theology or the black church it's that he went at Obama and attempted to undercut him by saying he secretly believes all that crap and is into political posturing. Why are the "black blogs" trying to turn this reverend looser into some kind of hero????

Shark-Fu said...

Ummm, by "black blogs" I assume you mean to include this blog...which is odd since I'm not calling anyone a hero.

If some black bloggers are then I suggest you take that question to them.

Shark-Fu said...

Oh my, that's not an easy one. I can only quote from personal experience. I have family members who are openly anti-something or another and I struggled with how to address that shit. I can't live their life or change what is in the heart, but i can tell them that I think they are wrong and why. I also try to explain how that kind of thinking damages them far more than it impacts the other they fear and therefore are biased towards.

It sounds like your friend is manifesting the most typical type of bigotry that is really all about fear and the wounds of past experience. Help him, if you are so moved to, by leading through example and living a life that is whole and respectful of others.

Unknown said...

Thank you Shark Fu for your take on this mess/issue/bullshit. Your eloquence is stunning to me. How I wish I could verbalize my feelings as well as you do.. but I just get worked up and let my emotions get the best of this ol brown bitch.

Unknown said...

I will try to verbalize what I feel about this mess/issue/bullshit:

I believe Rev.Wright has the right to say whatever he believes to be true. As long as he isn't screaming fire in a crowded theater, he can say whatever trips his egotistical trigger.

When I watched him last Friday on Bill Moyers, I was still behind him..but when I saw the show he put on in Detroit and then the Press Club, I was struck by carnie-like atmosphere he seemed to be enjoying.

But I still support his right to say what he feels is right..regardless of whether I agree with him or not.

That the media and the population at large draw a direct correlation between what Rev Wright believes/espouses and what Mr. Obama believes/espouses is so fuckwitted, I am floored at their ignorance.

Being your brothers keeper has taken on a whole new meaning it seems. And that is doing a horrible disservice to Mr. Obama and what he is trying to accomplish.

And its wrong on every level for anyone to hold Mr. Obama accountable for the thoughts and actions of his brother Rev. Wright. I am appalled at what has transpired in our nation within the these last few weeks...but then I remember..we are talking about a man of color..and the rules are still fucking different for we people of color. Equality...where for art thou?

Anonymous said...

Barack was pretty Pd-Off at a certain back-stabbing Preacher yesterday. Barack would be fully jusitfied to apply for honorary membership in the Ku Klux Klan for this occasion. If I were Barack, I'd lead a Torchlight Procession of the Klan to Wright's new $10 Million residence, burn a Cross, and do what needs to be done to that Judas of a Preacher. The "Reverend" Jerry Judas Iscariot Wright hung Barack out to dry. Barak should repay this DIRTY ROTTEN TRAITOR back in kind for trampling upon the hopes of any Black who ever aspires to the Presidency.

Anonymous said...

I did not know that there was such a thing as acceptable blackness until I started pointing out "racial problems" and attitudes of co-workers at my first place of employment when I was a wee lass. It was amazing to me how they immediately saw me as some angry person I was not. I never even raised my voice when I spoke about these issues it was bizarre and these were people who had known me for years. So they knew I was not angry by nature but it was easier to tag me as angy than to look at their own attitudes. DISTURBING!!!

Shark-Fu said...


Senator Obama should resort to cross burning? Yeah...ummm, how about no.

I think you have invested too much importance in Rev. Wright and too little responsibility in the media and public who are giving too much importance to Rev. Wright.


And this bitch thinks Rev. Wright has done enough damage to his own reputation.


And when did calling someone Judas become the new it diss?

Anonymous said...

What concerns me here, and I sat and watched CNN live when Pastor Wright was speaking this week. And I have to say it downright scared me. SCARED ME, I dare say!

I would be naive to say that the pastor doesn't speak for others; because he does. Otherwise he wouldn't have a following.

This is not to say that he speaks for Obama per se, or that he speaks for all Black Americans. But he is a controversial, provocative orator.

It would be naive to think that there are no Black Americans who think and have the same type of prejudices and rage that Pastor Wright has. Because there are. Otherwise he wouldn't have a following.

I am not sure what scares me more:

1. Pastor Wright's blatant media whoring (at the expense of his association of Mr. Obama); OR

2. His intentional "stoking of the fire," his instigating and perpetuating the inherent/multi-generational HATE-ON certain (and certainly NOT ALL) Black Americans have for past injustices, and his OUTRIGHT NEGLECT of his pastoral committment to teach the Gospel of Jesus, which I might want to remind Pastor Wright, is about LOVE.

When you couple up the fact that there is nothing LOVING in Pastor Wright's words, and there is nothing inherently Christian about his VITRIOL, the only conclusion I can come to is he's a HACK, and it's downright insulting, black OR white, to think that this man speaks for anyone BUT HIMSELF.

He should lay off the Jesus Juice before speaking in public.

Anonymous said...

Halp! What's "an acceptably Black" pet?

(C-Money, here's your cue for ABB dog sweaters...)


jsb16 said...

Anyone who thinks racism is dead in the US of A needs to contemplate why it is that Rev. Wright's anger merits so much public handwringing, but Rev. Hagee's merits none. If it's no racism, why are Rev. Wright's paranoias (the US gov't, having perpetrated Tuskegee, wouldn't've had an ethical problem spreading AIDS to blacks) so much worse than Rev. Hagee's paranoias (Katrina was God's punishment on NOLA for daring to allow homosexuals to party)?

Personally, I just wish the two Dems (and the media) would quit beating on each other and compete to see who can come up with the best attack ad on McCain. I'll give money to any candidate who can convince McCain supporters that McCain's not a maverick, not honest and true to his 'principles', but a crank who's worse than Dubya in ever so many ways.

Shark-Fu said...

Nancy P...

I think we've got dog shirts, but I'll have C-Money check on that.

Hmmm, I fear that I may have two Acceptably Black pets! Clearly they should be small to medium of size non-threatening dawgs that are not pure bred (Lawd knows an Acceptable Black person can't have elitist dawgs).

Sounds like a sorta-beagle to me.

Who knew?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks racism is dead in the US of A needs to contemplate why it is that Rev. Wright's anger merits so much public handwringing

Who is denying that racism or any other type of "-ism" is dead?

Perhaps it is naive of me to think this, but I think once we start thinking of each other in terms of WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS, and focus on those things that unite us as humans, rather than pointing out our differences and past injustices, we, as a society are doing nothing but spinning our wheels.

As Dr. King said:

[...] In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.[...]

"Content of character." That's ultimately what we all should be concerned with, black, white, whatever.

There's nothing disciplined in Wright's speech. Nothing.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

But I have to wonder if Obama is soooo interested in building bridges that he's the car that will bypass all the black people to get to the whites. Why did he come out swinging against Wright to defend himself but give Hillary and McCain a pass? Why didn't he publicly come out swinging for his wife when she was attacked? I was willing to brush these things aside before but you know that's a dangerous thing to. I see Michelle as an authentic person...a real 'sister' so to speak. She was a BIG part of why I support him. I wonder if I've misplaced my support? When we project what we want to see in a person we set ourselves up for a BIG letdown after the fact. I was reading dailykos and Kos posted why he was upset at Obama for going on Fox and that he made an unnecessary compromise. Well it got like 700+ comments and most people vehemently disagreed with him. But...I wonder? Are those of us who support an Obama candidacy in for a rude awakening? I'm not going to support Clinton regardless, but I think I ought to look into the Green party and Cynthia McKinney's run.

macon d said...

jsb16: "If it's no racism, why are Rev. Wright's paranoias (the US gov't, having perpetrated Tuskegee, wouldn't've had an ethical problem spreading AIDS to blacks) so much worse than Rev. Hagee's paranoias (Katrina was God's punishment on NOLA for daring to allow homosexuals to party)?"

After writing my own post on the topic, having been inspired by this one of Shark-fu's yesterday, I can say that this is another case of how whites are allowed to be individuals, but non-whites are not. Thank you big time, Shark-fu, for getting me going with that useful concept of acceptable blackness.

jsb16 said...

Where did you get the idea that Obama has given Clinton a pass? I'm pretty sure Obama's campaign was a source of the idea that Hillary's tears before NH were staged. Obama has made comments about Clinton being "periodically mood" (as if other people[men] aren't). And Clinton hasn't come out and said that Obama's faking his commitment to peaceful justice, which Wright did, so I'm not sure I see why Obama should be swinging at Clinton in exactly the same manner as he swung at Wright. Clinton, and even McCain, are Obama's competition for the White House. Wright, by making the claim that Obama really agrees with Wright no matter what Obama says, put himself into the category of Men-Who-Won't-Take-No-For-An-Answer.

As for rude awakenings... Obama's human. And he's drawn to power. I'm cynical enough to believe that anyone in his situation got there by being acceptable to those who already have power in some way.

Undercover Black Man said...

Well... Barack did choose a church with a black-nationalist mission and a pastor steeped in the hard-left ideology of "liberation theology."

Perhaps he should've foreseen that such an association mightn't play well in Peoria.

Or perhaps, being a biracial out-of-towner, he needed to buck up his "black man" credentials to get elected in Chicago in the first place.

Shit... it's tricky to rock a rhyme that's right on time...

rikyrah said...

Just trying to spread the word:

Operation Anti-Chaos: The Narrative on 'White Voters' is FICTION

A Blacklash?

RainaWeather said...

Amen sister.

Anonymous said...

I think this is an adjunct to this blog. I love this site, I'm Irish, Mexican and Native and I hear you.

I think Bill is trying to explain it to the white audience

Anonymous said...

Great post! You nailed it. I am still laughing.

Anonymous said...

There has been so much said and so much not. I am trying to undertand my own thoughts about this. I do think bill Moyers has said something that speaks to this latest entry.

It spoke to me. Thanks for this site.

Anonymous said...

I'm a black female and I do not agree with Rev Wright's philosophy nor do I care for his histrionics/antics. As far as I'm concerned, the man is a 'buffoon.' Okay... I'm going to call a spade a spade.... Rev Wright and his cronies are jealous of this young man's, Barack Obama, run for president of the USA. Rev Wright was compelled to 'strut his stuff.' He had to show everyone how intelligent he is with that 'history lesson' he gave at the Detroit Chapter of the NAACP and continued at the National Press Club. Nobody denies some of the stuff he says is true, but to add other stuff that has not be proven is a 'miscarriage of justice' on his part, not on the "former slave masters or descendants of slave masters" to put it in his vernacular.

Rev Wright needs to go somewhere, anywhere, and sit his butt down and shut up. Since he "cusses" in the pulpit I'll just add that he needs to 'STFU.'

rrp said...

thank you ABB!

Only last week a coworker came into my office (after a staff discussion on race and gender) to moan about how "unproductve" the anger of POC is.

I guess I passed her Acceptable test.


We're caught coming and going, slotted into some narrative that has nothing to do with the reality of complex human beings. We're Acceptable or we're Angry.

I think in need to cultivate Angry.

Anonymous said...

Watched Meet the Press today and it is indeed time for an anti-chaos or reality lives campaign. All the White Media wants to talk about in Rev. Write. I see white people everyday with their Obama campaign buttons on and still can't believe I am seeing white people in America proudly supporting a black man. So they see the reality Obama's time has come, he is the right person at the right time. And through it all, he sticks to what he believes.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Yet another in a continuing series of your posts printed and handed to my daughters. Acceptable blackness is a constant source of conversation in our house.
I love you, Shark-fu, I truly do.

jsb16 said...

IMHonestO, part of the problem with the USA is that liberation theology is seen as "hard-left".

Anonymous said...

Great post ABB! I agree with Maven, Wright has never gotten this much attention in his life and is doing so at the expense of Obama. He could wait until November. There's much more at stake than just the history of electing a Black man President. Thought about the Supreme Court lately? Went to see Lawrence Fishburne in Thurgood in NYC this weekend and in the play it was said that Nixon appointed four justices and hoped Thurgood would retire (which he didn't), but let's think about who will appoint the next batch of Justices who will make the law for life, after Bush, Hillary, Barack, etc. Wright's woeful lack of foresight on a very large implication of Barack's loss in an effort to showboat, do his constituents and the Lord a disservice. If his actions lead to another four years of domination by the right, and lifetime appointments of Justices who think the same, then he is guilty of doing wrong to God's people.

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