Monday, October 13, 2008

The Art of Majesty, Part 1: Avoid the Head Negro in Charge Syndrome

The "mirror for princes" genre was a type of political writing that was very popular during the European Renaissance of the 14th through 17th centuries. These books taught rulers how to behave in order to avoid having reigns that were violent, tragic, and most of all, short. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli is the most famous example of this genre.

Currently, these books are mostly read as a form of self-help literature. Most Blacks have never heard of them. This is a pity. This lack of knowledge is almost always reflected in how many Black folks handle whatever authority they have. Instead of managing our affairs (and those under our command) with the greatness and dignity of a sovereign, we are typically small, tacky, and therefore not respected. I've heard this referred to as the Head Negro in Charge (HNIC) syndrome. My former supervisor is just one unfortunate example of this. I can think of many others. You can too.

I'm reminded of all of this by a point raised by a commenter to an earlier post. She brought up the world of work, and the many negative things that women do to each other in the workplace. Before we go any further, let's consider a few quotes from some mirrors for princes:

"Nothing reveals the quality of a man more than to give him authority and responsibility." Maxims and Reflections, by Francesco Guicciardini, pg. 82.

"Do Not Parade Your Position. To boast about your position is more offensive than personal vanity. . . The more you seek esteem the less you obtain it, for it depends on the opinion of others. You cannot take it, but must earn and receive it from others. . . Those who insist on the dignity of their office, show they have not deserved it, and that it is too much for them. . . If you wish to be valued, be valued for your talents, not for anything obtained by chance. Even kings prefer to be honored for their personal qualifications rather than for their station." The Art of Worldly Wisdom, by Baltasar Gracian, pg. 43.

The HNIC syndrome is an example of what often happens when previously powerless people are given even a smidgen of authority over others. They go buck wild. That's how others can tell that such people have never had anything before. They use their job titles to try to lash out at people that, in their hearts, they secretly believe are their superiors. This behavior makes them appear small, tacky, and therefore they are not respected. This behavior makes them stand out from others who are secure in their positions. In the Black context, this is what often happens when poor Blacks work their way into the Black middle class and the professions. Instead of internalizing the self-perceptions and behaviors that are part of that class, such people often bring their insecurities and resentments with them.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying that all Black people who work their way into the middle class and professions do this. I'm saying that many of them do this. I'm also not saying that those who were born into the Black middle class are immune to this syndrome. The HNIC infection has slightly different visible symptoms among those who were born into the middle class.

People who do this don't understand that true power can afford to be gracious. This is why they never develop true power at work. All they have is the force of their job titles. Being respected is a component of having true power. They are not respected. This makes their hold on their job titles tenuous.

My former (Black) supervisor was a textbook example of all of this. In addition to manifesting slum habits (shouted conversations with people standing three feet away, etc.), she spent most of her time being negatively obsessed with women she perceived as being born into the Black middle class. After several coworkers repeated the questions she would ask about me, I realized that this person actually saw herself as competing with me. With all of the reports coming back to me from colleagues, I found the situation fascinating in a bizarre sort of way. [Although it was quite unpleasant to be the subject of hostile surveillance.]

Apparently, this one-sided competition was quite frustrating for her. It was frustrating that I never broadcast information about what I had or what I was doing. She never quite understood that she lowered herself in other people's eyes by doing this. Whatever tidbits of information that she could find out only reinforced her insecurities. For example, she busied herself with trying to keep up with what I did on my vacations. When, as a result of her probing, she found out that I had gone on a cruise one year, she assumed that I must have gone to the Caribbean. [I guess going to the Caribbean is as far as her comfort zone extends.] Several people who were present during the conversation mentioned how upset she looked when she found out that I had gone to Europe. {long sigh}

The obsession with titles is one tell-tale sign of the HNIC syndrome. I've heard of a Black judge that paid her personal bills with envelopes that had "The Honorable Judge So & So" listed over her personal return address.

Another tell-tale sign of the HNIC syndrome is that such people always leave the things they have authority over noticeably worse off than they found them. This is inevitable because they are preoccupied with using their jobs to work through their insecurities. Of course, the person who wants to be a sovereign in their field should strive for excellence. However, the least we can do to protect our livelihoods is to not leave things obviously worse off because of our participation. If one is going to be incompetent, lazy, or distracted one should at least be subtle about it.

My former supervisor isn't the only one infected with the HNIC syndrome. I've seen many Black professionals take great pleasure in "bossing" over the support staff. I've heard reports of lawyers literally tossing papers onto the secretaries' desks. They know not to do these things in front of me. I would react poorly. I've always been disappointed at how surprised some of the support staff are when they discover that I'm not invested in being a "boss" over anybody. I just want the things I delegate done correctly. No more. No less.

Are you doing things at work that demonstrate the Head Negro in Charge syndrome?
Are you leaving the things under your authority noticeably worse off than how you found them?
Are you using your job as a forum to work through insecurities and other personal problems?

*Note to Readers: While contemplating this post and flipping through my various "mirrors for princes" books, I noted numerous (and grave) flaws that are prevalent among those Black folks who were born middle class. The Black middle class is contracting and imploding due to these flaws. I'll discuss this angle in Part 2 of this series.


roslynholcomb said...

I'm seriously starting to wonder if we're not living in a parallel universe Khadija. I too had a former supervisor who had these type issues. She was particularly obsessed with my hair, and my jewelry. Oddly enough, she was born into the black middle class, while I was definitely working class if not below. She made it impossible for me to stay at my job, and I eventually became a SAHM. I thank Goddess that she pushed me into what I wanted/needed to do anyway.

I started to post on the thread about familial estrangement, but other people had already said what I wanted to. Bottom line is, you make your own family. Blood doesn't necessarily make kin.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Roslyn!

Thank you for contributing to this conversation! Class issues are TABOO for Black folks, and usually very difficult to discuss in any sort of productive way. I'm thankful for your courage and input.

Sometimes the nature of, and motivation for, the attacks often depend upon the attributes of the target.

I'm speaking from my vantage point of the majority type of hateration that has been directed at me by other Black women. I'm sure that other Black women with different personal histories have had different experiences.

The attacks I've gotten from other "born middle class" Black women have had a slightly different format.

Sometimes the way the born poor "hate on" other born poor people is different than the style of hateration they use for the middle class.

The way the "born middle class" hate on the poor or working class is often different than the style of hateration used on other "born middle class" people.

So, we could be having experiences in parallel universes regarding this issue. Each parallel universe is as real as the other one(s). My main point is that the widespread hateration & misuse of positions goes on & on. Each class has its own set of insecurities & demons. I heard a minister talk about how "there's a devil for every level."

You've brought up another gem from Baltasar Gracian:

Make Use of Your Enemies. A wise person gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends. Their ill will often levels mountains of difficulties that one would otherwise not face...The wise will turn ill will into a mirror more faithful than that of kindness, and remove or improve the faults referred to. Caution thrives well when rivalry and ill will are next-door neighbors." pg. 35.

My enemies have also motivated me to "step up my game" in lots of ways. LOL!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Evia said...

Khadija, although I was raised with firm middle class values, and have lived a squarely middle to upper middle class life in many ways, I don't think I appear to the average person to be a middle class black person. Since I don't work outside the home, these days I probably more resemble a poor bw from the ghetto--someone receiving public assistance at that. I usually dress comfortably, but I don't wear designer anything and use little artifice in terms of makeup (except for a little lipstick, sometimes) and my natural hair is usually wild. Some people still don't associate bw with natural hair with money and sophistication or middle/upper classness.

I'm often directed to cheaper items, especially when I go into upscale stores. Even in regular stores, sales clerks will start telling me about when the next sale is coming. LOL!! Apparently some of them feel sorry for me and want to help a po' sista out.

But this is where it gets interesting because I have sho nuff shocked some folks in those stores when I start talking!! Some folks get nervous and start looking at me like I've sneaked up on them or they do triple-takes or start asking me where I'm from.LOL!

My gynecologist is a bw who has tons of natural hair too and dresses very nondescript, and she has the same impact on folks. LOL!

Anyway, personally I also have problems--mainly with SOME other bw--because they're envious about my success in various realms. They don't seem to understand how I could have achieved what I have because they don't SEE me doing anything spectacular, yet they see me pull in some extraordinary results. They don't see how a bw with natural hair who prefers to dress down rather than up could have pulled the type of husbands I have or have children like mine. Some of them have actually said this and one of them accused me of not sharing key information. LOL!

When I point out to them that I don't THINK in the very limited way they do and this is why I succeed and they don't, they, of course, can't grasp what I'm talking about. As a matter of fact, the main reason why I started blogging about my IR marriage and my 'Living Well' life, in general, is because of a very nasty episode with a supposedly close girlfriend years ago, who couldn't accept that I'd re-married. She could barely accept that I was married the first time--because in both cases, the men are high quality men and she didn't feel that her husband was up to par. When they got divorced, she became even more jealous that I was still married and was happy when I got divorced. So it made her straight-up miserable when I remarried and she started acting out.

It gets to the point with some of these women where they can't disguise or contain their misery or jealousy.

So I actually started blogging to get the word out to bw that I have not cornered the market on Quality men; there are plenty of them out there.

DeStouet said...

I don't have much to say about this topic here but after I read it, it made me reflect on the way I run my household as the mother and wife. And I like that.

However, I'd like to make a comment on the issue of class and hopefully someone can assist me further.

I have always heard class was a major factor in why black & other blacks had a difficult time seeing eye to eye, and also why many whites & blacks had a hard time relating to one another and being friends.

And for a while that made a lot of sense, but what happens when class is no longer an issue.

What I find is that people begin to say things like, "well we had different backgrounds, different upbringings, or from different cultures" and if you back a person with these excuses into a corner, then they use the ALMIGHTY "I refuse to see things your way" by saying,"Different strokes for Different folks."

What I find to be reality is that class is really a small issue. I am not trying to minimize it but at the end of the day, many of us will use any excuse we can to stop us from understanding the other person points of views.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Evia!

There are layers on top of layers with class issues. Many Black folks have misconceptions about what "class" means. We confuse surface attributes with class.

Wearing expensive clothes does NOT make someone middle class.

Having light skin does NOT automatically mean that someone is middle class.

Hair style is NO LONGER a political statement. Nor is it a class attribute.

Driving an expensive car does NOT make someone middle class.

A high salary does NOT make someone middle class.

There are plenty of Black people with impressive job titles, professional degrees, etc. who carry themselves with the same deportment as the underclass. I've seen several Black attorneys who are "strivers" use Ebonics in court. While arguing a legal point to the judge. One such young lady refers to her husband as "my n-word-variation-with "a" at the end" in front of her White colleagues.

These surface, material attributes do NOT make someone middle class. In my view, it's more a matter of self-perception and mindset. You've touched on this with your "Living Well" essays. People with middle class values EXPECT to live well.

EXPECTING to live well requires a very different (and sad to say, very unusual) mindset than what is encouraged between & among Black women. That's why there's so much resistance to your message; and people listing all the "reasons" why they "can't" live well.

This is also part of the reason for the jealousy, envy, and hateration. There are also totally separate reasons for the envy & hateration that you've been confronted with. But I can only try to untangle one issue at a time. *Smile*

It's a matter of thinking, and carrying oneself as a sovereign. With opportunities and possibilities. NOT viewing the world through excess self-imposed limitations. My grandparents had middle class values even though they were "officially" poor.

I've also surprised lots of store cashiers and others while happily rolling around in my Hyundai and wearing jeans! LOL! I've also experienced the reverse version of this: A cashier at a dry cleaners in my childhood neighborhood (that I used to go to) was confused seeing me pull up in my Hyundai. She asked, "Aren't you supposed to be a lawyer? Your cousin So & So said you were a lawyer. Why don't you have a 'better' car?"

After denying that I'm a lawyer, I quickly called my cousin to go off on him. I guess he called himself "bragging" about a relative, but all I could think is that this type of talk was setting me up for a robbery or carjacking. I never went to that dry cleaners again.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Welcome, DeStouet!

Class matters. It's an undercurrent to much of the free-floating hatred that exists among Black folks. I'm speaking from my vantage point. And from my observations of the patterns regarding the hateration that has come my way. I know that I'm breaking a taboo by speaking about this topic in this fashion.

Part of what makes class issues invisible to many of us is that we've made it normal and acceptable to hate on the Black middle class. Especially those Black folks who were born middle class.

Things don't "count" as class issues among us unless it's something wrong that the Black middle class is doing to the poor. Or something wrong that those who were born middle class are doing to strivers who worked their way into this category.

The "approved" and "appropriate" Black class issues to discuss typically revolve around bitter accusations of snobbery and people "looking down" on strivers and others.

It's generally NOT considered appropriate to talk about the baggage and hatred some Black strivers bring with them to the middle class. It's generally NOT appropriate to discuss the damage that strivers with such baggage cause to our collective reputations as Black professionals.

Black strivers with this type of baggage are often screwing up in ways that make things harder for the next Black person that comes along.

Back to the example of the "up from the hood" attorneys I mentioned before. How do you think their behavior makes ALL of us look to the White judges we practice before? How do you think the loud talking, inappropriately dressed former supervisor made us ALL look to our White coworkers. She was a source of humor (and knowing winks) to many of the White attorneys.

Those Black folks who tried to politely and diplomatically counsel these individuals against behaving this way in public were accused of being snobs. And not "keepin' it real." Meanwhile, these individuals just don't understand why they're not respected; and why their careers have stalled.

We've had several decades of so-called "authentic" Blackness being associated with being poor or working class. And decades of the Black middle class being cast as the villians in every story. This is a grave problem.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Another note about the attempts to advise the Ebonics-users, and young lady who publicly refers to her husband as "my/that n-word derivative":

Several of us knew better than to approach these indviduals because anything we said would automatically be discounted because we're "old."

Others knew not to approach the "keepin' it real" strivers because they would be discounted because they were born middle class. ["snobs"][I'm automatically "old" AND a "snob." LOL!]

Finally, we settled on a couple of other strivers to approach them. They were accused of being snobs, not keepin' it real, and most importantly "forgetting where they came from."

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

DeStouet said...


As someone who have moved up the class ladder, and feel that I have did so without hating on any member of a "B&B" I will use the same comments you used when another reader asked you how you felt about Cosby & Obama statements regarding the underclass & poor.

The statements that I have heard come from most "B&B" black middle class about poor blacks have been absolutely correct, but many of them are being delivered by many of the wrong messengers.

Khadija said...


Agreed!!! In the event that I'm not an appropriate messenger about this issue: I'll be delighted to step down & be quiet about "striver baggage & dysfunction" as soon as an appropriate messenger steps forward to address this issue.

NOBODY is talking about this particular subsection of the Black middle class, and the extreme damage that some of them are doing to Blacks in the professions as a whole. I'm NOT going to passively watch this anymore.

My up-to-now silence about this topic is beginning to feel as irresponsible & cowardly as the years I spent being too intimidated to speak out against hip-hop. I'm not going to have this type of "I knew better & said nothing about it" on my conscience too.

As you can probably tell from my earlier comments in other threads, I'm NOT especially enamored of my fellow B& Bs. As I've said earlier, I hold B & Bs (and the Black rich) mostly responsible for the failed state called Black America. I'll get around to B&B issues in Part 2.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

The class matters.

I used to see it a lot more when I lived in the South.

Try living in the South as a middle class bohemian type (appearing) (white sounding) black woman graduate student/doctoral candidate interracial dating/marrying Northerner...

It was obvious "I was not from there," whether among middle class blacks or those of poorer backgrounds.

Open your mouth, see folks look at you like you are some strange thing they haven't seen before.

I think the points you and Evia made are great--it is about carrying oneself well, it is about expectations...that comes with being middle class...

As for myself, I have always attempted on the job to act with dignity in my dealings with others, support staff or otherwise and leaving things as good or better than I left them. I'm not about "putting on airs," but I am interested in the professionalism that comes with representing myself well.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Pioneer Valley Woman!

"White sounding..." I've come to really resent that bit of insanity that Black folks have bought into. And I've given it more than a little thought over the years.

There are 2 main types of what is perceived as "sounding White":

1-Speaking in standard English; AND/OR

2-Speaking with a nasal inflection similar to the one that many non-Blacks have. Black folks tend to speak from their guts (singers can describe this better than me). Others tend to have more nasal-sounding voices.

[Isn't it absolutely crazy that it's come to this among us?!]

My cousins who grew up in a mostly White suburb were slapped with the "talking White accusation" because of both #1 & #2. I was slapped with the "talking White" accusation because of #1.

I solved my "talking White problems" by around 4th grade, when I started mimicking the Ebonics-laced slang I heard at school. My cousins never totally solved their "talking White problems" because they continued to speak with more nasal-sounding voices.

When I was in college, my mother commented on how disgusted she & Dad were about "all their hard work going down the drain" when I started mimicking Ebonics in 4th grade. They had made a point of only speaking standard English at home for my & my brother's benefit.

Peace, blessings and solidarity. said...

Hello there everyone! {waves}

Thank you for this post Khadija!

I am not shy about bringing up class issues at my blog. *LOL*

Oh wretched snobby wonder that I am!! *LOL*

Women who are obsessed with someone's possessions, clothing, social life, and their perceived ranking in the pecking order among black women have DEEP class inferiority issues and many deep insecurities that are unresolved.

I see this HNIC syndrome in nearly every black church I am in... these people continue to use a title to address me...

Colleagues are baffled that I don't include my title and rank in my description at my blog. And why should I??

It is BAFFLING to me why others do...I don't need that currency...never have.

The HNIC Syndrome is largely unchecked and perpetually unconfronted.

As for the obsession with superficial "class markers"...Khadija is right... clothes, cars and size of home do not grant MIDDLE CLASS cred.

The black elite use the term "tourists" to describe blacks who were not born into affluence and "paid for a ticket into the front door". These remarks indicate that they do not BELONG.

The black elite love to toss out the "nouveau riche" sneer at those who focus on material posessions as class markers. Family "pedigree" is the class marker that matters.

It is not enough to be MBA, PhD, JD, DDM...the class marker is defined by how many generations hold those credentials.

I have had black women who are COMPLETE strangers ask me how much whatever I am wearing cost me and where I got it from? EXCUSE ME??

People who hire private designers do not typically shop in stores. They seem to be completely UNAWARE of the existence of private designers in this country.

They hear the word "designer" and they think Louie V or Tommy H.

Remember the ole saying among the black elite?

"Price tags exist for those who don't want to be embarrassed at the cash register."

If you have to ASK what something costs, then you can't afford it.

HNIC Syndrome is very apparent when there is a focus on the socioeconomic class status of a person's spouse, as Evia mentioned.

I have noticed the hostility that is directed at THOSE who will not play along with the HNIC Syndrome.

Of course, I do not blame the black elite for the state of the BC... my friend said if it wasn't for the black elite, whites would think ALL blacks spoke in broken English, thought that high school graduation meant they had "an education", and had illegitimate children....I was floored.

The black elite actually feel that they are the only hope for blacks improving their brand (racially)...

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Khadija said...

Welcome, Lisa!

I'm so happy you stopped by and joined the conversation. You bring a rarely heard perspective.

You're right. "The HNIC Syndrome is largely unchecked and perpetually unconfronted." Worst of all, most of us don't seem to perceive HNIC as a problem.

Until, in its terminal form, it gets somebody indicted. That's the only point when it embarasses some of us. Kwame Kilpatrick, anyone? We actually celebrate Black folks "keepin' it real" (which usually translates into keeping it tacky) instead of carrying themselves with dignity in their positions. "Hip Hop Mayor" indeed.

Kwame & his mommy ["Don't let 'them' talk about y'alls boy!!"] are good examples of how surface markers (expensive material things, professional degrees, etc.) DO NOT place anybody within the middle class.

Since it's taboo and almost completely forbidden to discuss these issues, many Black folks aren't aware of the above. They also are't aware of the Black elite perspectives that you described.

Finally, many Black folks aren't aware that, for example, you & I are NOT in the same class group. They're unaware of the differences between the Black middle class and the Black elite. A lot of Black folks lump both groups into one big category. When I get around to discussing the flaws I've observed among the Black elite, I'm sure we'll have plenty to disagree about! {chuckling}

P.S. Sheila E. also made that observation about how "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" in "The Glamorous Life." {more chuckling}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymiss said...

Very interesting.

This never crossed my mind cuz I've never really had Black superiors at work.

I really liked the points that Lisa brought up about the status-oriented obsessions with Black people. I've seen the saddest obsessions come from a (sista) coworker that's a wanna-be elitist with an advanced degree. I swear, some educated Blacks run wild with their education and put on (British) airs.

Everything about her was money-oriented and it made me painfully uncomfortable and sick. It made me uncomfortable because I always felt like I was being judged because I am unashamed about my working class roots, have a preference for red tag sales and coupons, and am confident that I will wake up the next morning if I don't have the "finest" things in life. It also made me uncomfortable how she always spoke about other people and obsessed with how others spent their money. You can tell where this work friendship went ;-)

Hopefully in the future you'll touch on the death of humility and class amongst many educated and/or middle class Blacks. I would discuss this on my own blog but I can't really do so constructively.

PioneerValleyWoman said...


There are 2 main types of what is perceived as "sounding White":

1-Speaking in standard English; AND/OR

2-Speaking with a nasal inflection similar to the one that many non-Blacks have. Black folks tend to speak from their guts (singers can describe this better than me). Others tend to have more nasal-sounding voices.

My reply:

Your reply made me think further of this. I recently recorded some lectures for my students and then listened to myself speak.

What is fascinating is that speaking from the gut (talking to singers about this) gives more power to the voice.

It is healthier; the speaker uses the lungs more. Speaking from the nose or the throat can give the voice a more nasal, breathless (and tentative, perhaps) quality, which is how many white women speak. Many men, for example, speak from the gut; it sounds deeper and gives their voices more power.

So black folks have a powerful way of speaking, from the gut, but it can get undercut by the Ebonics.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Anonymiss!

Ahhh...the Black elite. What social-climbing middle class (and/or nouveau riche) Blacks don't understand is that one of the defining features of the self-proclaimed Black elite is their preoccupation with keeping others OUT of their social circles.

I have some social climbing wanne-be-considered-elite relatives. What they don't get is that the Lawrence Otis Grahams of Black America are consciously fixated on keeping them OUT.

I've never understood anybody's desire to be around these people. From my perspective, the self-proclaimed Black elite are totally irrelevant. They are NOT captains of industry (like the true, White elite).

Lisa and I have talked about this previously. As I have told her, these people don't control anything that I want or care about. I, and many other Black folks, don't need anything from them.

In addition to all of the above, I have the following question: What has this self-proclaimed "elite" been doing with their education and money over the past 50 years? If these elite Black folks are still talking about forming business relationships with the true, White elite, then they are as incompetent as the "B& B" Black middle class!

After all these decades, why haven't they BECOME captains of industry?! What's up with that?!

Let's contrast the "achievements" of the Black elite with those of other people's elites:

1-How long did it take for Cubans to take over Miami and large swaths of Florida? Answer: About 40 years.

2-How long did it take for Jews in America to gain entry into and then become predominant in the professions? Answer: Less than 50 years.

3-How long has it taken for Mexicans in the Southwest (California, etc.) to position themselves as the next political & business rulers in these locations? Answer: Less than 40 years of riding Black folks' civil rights coattails.

4-By contrast, what does our elite have to show for the past 50 years? Hmmph.

Frankly, I'm not impressed with the Black elite; and I see nothing worth emulating about them. They have foolishly squandered their resources just like the Black middle class. All I care about, respond to, and am impressed by, are measurable achievements in the real world.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Pioneer Valley Woman,

The problem is that when what folks are saying is idiotic and/or said in Ebonics, these "speaking from the gut" voices become caricatures.

One of my (Southern-origin Black man) ex-courtroom partners calls it "The Big N-word Voice." He makes mockery of it quite frequently (along with Jesse Jackson/Johnny Cochran-inspired nursery rhymes).

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

blackgirlinmaine said...

Powerful piece. I have a family member who sadly is facing these issues, he is becoming the HNIC and its having a negative impact on his career because he does not know how to be gracious.

I do see him using his position to work through the issues that are unresolved from childhood and frankly its scary. I went through a period like that as well, but thankfully have moved on.

No longer do I need to lord my educational credentials over anyone to prove a point.

Thanks for this post!

Anonymiss said...

You really bring up some good points. Class warfare is very much an issue for collective Black progress.

When I look at the pattern of progress with non-Af Ams, they exclude the dead weights. If you're not a benefit to the cause, you are not allowed to ride the gravy train. At the very least, that is as exclusive as it should be with our community. Some of us are still stupid enough to believe that we've arrived only if we're on equal footing with the White world.

This whole "You're not of the right pedigree" nonsense --- I thought that mentality was only common with foreigners. I never knew of it to be common in the US until "nouveau riche" became such an abused term amongst American blue bloods.

Sister Seeking said...

Peace & Blessings:

Khadija has done it again!


I have a few thoughts I’d like to share but first things first:

@ Evia

I hope for the love of G-d, you are no longer friends with the lady who overstepped her own mental boundaries by acting a fool. That type of behavior is just totally sick. It’s amazing how far that Darwinian concept of “survival of the fittest” is taken to extremes!

Here are my perspectives ladies:

(Pardon me if I’m jumping around a bit-I’m multi-tasking at work today BIG time)

1. I’m a strong supporter of [classical] education for many of the reasons described in your comments, and in Khadija’s description of her co-workers behaviors:

There is a HUGE difference in being trained versus being educated. Many “professionals” of all ethnicities who received their college degrees after the 50’s, are not educated: they are trained. The exceptions to this are those who have attended private schools that are not necessarily accredited by mainstream institutions. The break down of our culture as a whole, and our society is a direct result of modernist techniques of instruction.

Breaking here:

Khadija speaks about the use of Ebonics by legal professionals in the presence of a judge.
The majority of Americans who attended private schools, especially Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican schools were classically trained: the blacks who were members of these churches and whose children were “allowed” to attend these schools speak with a deliberate: diction, and tone in their voice—especially black women. I’m not surprised that if Khadija or some one else older than Khadija notices the break down of the English vernacular in all ethnicities especially generational but specifically with young black professionals. You are not classically educated if you did not learn Latin AND Greek. Latin is necessary in order to master English, and especially if you are in field such as Law or Medicine. Every civilization that wishes to preserve itself understands that the easiest way to destroy your own civilization from within (other than the Likes of Emperor Nero or his modern day present Bush) is to destroy the language. This another reason I have a HUGE problem with forcing us to become bi-lingual in order to accommodate the dysfunctions and needs of peasants who can not strengthen our civilization: the evidence is that they are here. I also want to add in here that our cultures surrender to technology is dumbing us all down—you are still illiterate if you can not speak, but know how to operate a computer.


Sister Seeking said...

Going along with my first theme of being classically educated is this: if one has been educated and trained by a skilled master—chances are they were done so based on a code of meritorious chivalry.

Breaking again.

Khadija speaks of one of her co-workers referring to her husband in a derogatory term.

I have been cursed out, and even physically threatened for saying the following around black people:

You are NOT educated if you make life choices, and decisions that negate the benefits of your education. People like the lady who refers to her husband as epithet are in my opinion victims of a modernist educational system. Modern day logic classes are not teaching critical thinking skills, and it’s clear by our people’s insistence on the usage of Ebonics that modern day rhetoric classes.

I have met MANY black educated professionals: both those born middle class, and those who worked their way up that have a completely reckless approach to life. Mental illness does have a role in this but the bottom line is: they do not know who to think straight. They can’t think straight because they were never educated and trained by some one who does. If not the mother, than the teacher.

When I see black educated professional women who are:
*Single mothers with a gang of children by different men


*Black men with a gang of children by different women

I ask myself: what in the heck was the point? Piggy backing on the concept by Evia: live and live well—they have created circumstances where they can’t live well, and the benefit of being credentialed can’t save them or their offspring. A true master teaches you to live, and live well through training the depth of your soul and mind: not through getting you to foam at that mouth like a dog over fame, and fortune.

Another issue I have is the war of “the republic” and “the democracy”. The split we see is the black community is a direct result of the systems of governance I just listed. Ignoring this is dangerous: knowledge is power but it is not G-d. Depriving the masses of knowledge is depriving of them of the skills, and abilities needed in order to live well.
I won’t get into politics—but our system of governance (or currently the lack thereof) does impact our community as it does all ethnic groups in the United States.

Peace and blessings
Sister Seeking/Miriam

Sister Seeking said...

Salus populi suprema lex. ~ The safety of the people is the highest law.----Cicero

Bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem. ~ It is not goodness to be better than the worst.----Seneca

Sister Seeking/ Miriam said...

Hey Khadija!

Your statement about our different backgrounds is interesting.

There are two ways that class affiliation is defined...blacks tend to think that class affiliation is based on the CURRENT professional and educational status of a person.

Whites define class affiliation in terms of the family lineage. For example, if a Kennedy is a high school drop out, that person is still part of the upper class in terms of whites' definition of class affiliation. Family socioeconomic class affiliation is what they are considering.

Warren Buffet's granddaughter was on Oprah and she is a nanny. A black girl from the 'hood who is a babysister is considered lower class. A white girl from the upper classes who is a babysister is still considered upper class because of the class affiliation of her family.

Blacks love to say: "it's not where you're from but where you've arrived". It sounds nice...but the reality MATTERS where you are from in white circles because class affiliation has a lot to do with family lineage.

A black person can be an MD, JD, DMin but if that person's parents are working class, then that person is probably viewed as a boot-strapper...or {gasp}...referred to as a "tourist" who paid to enter the party.

The white media's fixation on the Obamas as "elites" was a political smokescreen because both Obamas are from working class families so they are NOT considered elites by upper crust whites and these whites know this.

What you said is true:
"... the Lawrence Otis Grahams of Black America are consciously fixated on keeping them OUT."

I think that the reasons why the black elite do not want those who were not BORN INTO the black elite among them are different than what many assume.

It is assumed that they feel superior to all other blacks.

The best kept secret is that the black elite do not even compare themselves to other blacks.

Many blacks think that all whites are middle class. Most whites in this country are not.

For example, many blacks think that postal workers and plumbers and police offers are in the middle class...and they are THOUGHT to be by the the whites...this is considered the working class.

Black people who are born into wealth do not want to be around people who are not used to it because those people tend to make a huge deal of it.

I have been around black people who talk about their bills, and talk about what they are trying to buy, and talk about how much they make. This is NOT a conversation that occurs among the black elite. No one mentions their water bill or cable bill...bills are nothing important to discuss. Most of them don't even KNOW what their bills are each month since they have wealth managers who pay these bills.

If they ask "where do you summer?" they don't want to get some strange look. There are plenty of black people who I have had to explain that question to. They don't know what it means. I'm serious!

They want to be able to talk about their weekend trip to Paris to see the French Open without someone sucking their teeth with resentment or making sarcastic and envious comments like, "I don't have it like that!"

They want to be able to invite people over to their homes and not have someone pull out a cell phone and take photos of the interior of their homes! Yes, negroes have done THIS who have never been inside of a mansion before! And it's rude, rude, rude to take photos of someone's possessions.

They don't want to have negroes ask them to see a tour of their home JUST so they can see what these people own! It is rude to ask for a tour pf someone's home when invited over...and how many middle class and lower class negroes haven't gotten that memo?

People who have expensive possessions and are accustomed to wealth DO NOT want others commenting on what their possessions must cost. Only those blacks who did not grow up affluent tend to seek attention and congratulations for what they can purchase or afford.

They are sick and tired of blacks touching their clothing, asking what it costs, asking where they get their possessions.

They are tired of being around blacks who are classless enough to ask "are those your real eyes" and "is that your real hair?"

These are the reasons WHY the black elite don't want to be around the black middle class or heaven forbid the black lower class.

They are annoyed by those who are not from where they are from. The interactions that black people have when they are from different socioeconomic class backgrounds are usually wrought with misperception.

I used the term "hood" at my blog and someone made a huge deal of it saying that it was a pejorative term. They only took offense to my using it because they knew I was not from there.

So does that mean that blacks from the ghetto should never use the slang term "burbs" ...since they aren't from there??

One sista kept insisting that the term "lower classes" was the same as the term "low class". It isn't. In HER mind, it was!

These are the reasons I think that class polarization is so accepted. Blacks want to be with THEIR OWN "kind" and they want blacks to stick with their own "kind".

I am not saying this is right...just saying that it is what it is.

@ PioneerValleyWoman

It is so interesting that you mentioned the way that we are taught to speak. No one ever guesses that I am black when I am speaking on the phone to complete strangers and this is quite disturbing but now that you have shared this explanation, I realized that I was never trained to speak "from the gut".

In the social circles that I was exposed to, it was not desireable to speak loudly or forcefully. Speaking in subdued tones was thought to be more refined.

This is why the stereotype in sitcoms of the loud, brassy black woman is usually associated with the lower classes. Claire Huxtable did not speak in the same way as Flo (the maid on "The Jeffersons").

If we think of how black women were portrayed and their speech patterns...we will see clear differences with the actress who called Fred Sanford "Fish eyed fool!" and Dianne Carroll's character on the tv soap opera "Dynasty".

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa said...

@ Khadija

I wanted to make a comment about the black elite and their allocation of resources...the black elite has put a large percentage of their wealth in foreign investments and THAT is money that is NOT in the 'hood.

The black elite does not put their money where it can be "seen" but it doesn't mean that it has been squandered.

There are plenty of trust fund blacks who are my age (close to your age! *smiles*) and their parents created those trust funds that they live on.

Example: My girlfriend is a sales manager for a Fortune 50 company. She built a $5 million home a year ago and she's in her 30s. So many people in church were talking about her new house. "How can she afford it?" they were whispering. Some were bold enough to ask about her mortgage and she said, "mortgage? I don't have one."

This made them talk EVEN MORE behind her back.

It has never occurred to these folks that she has a trust fund.

She isn't squandering any money. She's spending what was set aside from her by those who planned for her.

Khadija said...


Wow!!! I'm blown away by the quality and precision of the comments that you have all made! I'll have to take some time to digest them. Please feel free to continue the conversation while I think about the various excellent points you've all raised.

In the meantime, I'm going to post some passages from a couple of books to consider while we're discussing this topic.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Sister Seeking said...

Peace & Blessings

@ Lisa

"Whites define class affiliation in terms of the family lineage. For example, if a Kennedy is a high school drop out, that person is still part of the upper class in terms of whites' definition of class affiliation. Family socioeconomic class affiliation is what they are considering." Lisa

SS: Rev Lisa, now, why did you have to go, and get all deep on us! lol : ) We all know it's sure beyond the scope of this blog to dissect this! lol : ) I need to be completely honest here: I'm absolute shocked to hear a non-Muslim or non-Jew make such a statement with out hatefulness. Rev Lisa, I mean that as a compliment to you, and new lesson learned today for me. I can't let this statement go with out mentioning the following:

1. Khadija has rightly stated that "class" is a taboo issue--lineage is a WORSE taboo, becuase it brings back the law of legitimacy--something modern day blacks can't touch due to the anarchy our families have fallen into. No one can bring up this issue with out being accused of condemning some one else. But by taking the other extreme we are missing some hidden truths:Family preservation is the key to wealth. Keeping money in your family, generation, after generation enables "your" people( not "our" people) to preserve themselves.

2. To take this concept to another level is going to bring out another dirty little issue: slavery. Now what I've observed when slavery is brought up in context of this issue, is a litany of pathetic excuses for why black women and children are in the feckless position they are in today. It is never discussed with the intention of empowerment, and the result is often the continuation of underachievement. Based off of historical, and genetic evidence I reject ANY black American of any class who claims to have an absolute claim to his entire lineage--saying so is claiming that your lineage was not interrupted by slavery. This is the issue I have with Lawrence Graham. If your going to play the lineage game, brother, play it all the way. Present your proof not your pocket book. Not your diploma or your grandfathers diploma. Let us look a closer at why the example given by Rev Lisa is allowed to happen.

3. Familism ( maybe natalism) transitions into tribalism after a period of time. This is what I personally believe has transpired within the born black Elite. They are tribe just like I see the Jews as being a tribe ( of many tribes). All tribes have intentional and unintentional survival tactics they resort to preserve their: you guessed it: lineage.

"I wanted to make a comment about the black elite and their allocation of resources...the black elite has put a large percentage of their wealth in foreign investments and THAT is money that is NOT in the 'hood."Lisa

SS: I'm not middle class but my husband is from overseas, and we do have a small percentage invested internationally. Again, I see this as many things 1) tribal self-preservation 2) common financial sense and 3) 11 economics. I do how ever believe in charity. But here goes the thing Rev. Lisa... I'm thinking we have such a low percentage of black philanthropists from the black elite becuase their tribalism may have brought them to the mental maybe metaphysical belief that poor blacks are not of their tribe? Follow me? What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear.


Evia said...

Lisa, I'm not sure how the black rich (not nouveau riche) made their money because I haven't been curious enough to try to find out, but it's well known (from history) that many of the generationally blue blood white rich families initially made their money in either criminal or far from honorable ways. Probably many of their descendants would NOT brag about how their great-grandads really made their fortunes. However, some folks would say that's not important these days because once you get the money, it's yours--no matter how you got it.

Here's the way I see it. One of the main reasons why it's difficult to compare the black "old/er* money to the white rich or white "old" money is due to the issue of "identity." Whites generally don't mind identifying with other whites or take pride in doing so, along with much of their history. They willingly learn it, embrace it, exalt it, and want to preserve it and themselves as descendants of Europe.

MOST AAs I've ever encountered of whatever class know next to nothing about Africa, make little to no effort to learn about Africa, do NOT have African pride, have an emotional disconnect with Africa, and therefore have little interest in preserving whatever is African about themselves--here, there, or anywhere, and that includes our African Americanness which is predicated on pain and suffering and general ugliness.

This issue of identity affects virtually everything that AAs--of whatever class--do.

As compared to rich whites, this is really the reason why many very rich blacks would never even consider becoming a captain of industry to build up African Americans and found institutions to preserve the culture of African Americans or African culture. It's possible that a few rich AAs feel that way, but I'd bet not many at all--because they feel no positive historical connection to each other. Even many continental Africans don't feel that way about their nationality and don't pledge alligiance to their countries because their nationality was **forced** on them during colonialism. I'm sure that most folks reading here realize that MOST Africans identify according to their ethnic group or tribe, not by nationality.

Real talk--many AAs do not identify with other AAs unless they don't have a choice. That's really the reason why most AAs even accept the label of AAs--because there's no choice. In actuality, MANY of us don't have anything in common with many, many other AAs, and many of us actually have quite a lot more in common with individuals of other groups than we do with each other.

So, identity is a MAJOR issue with AAs because our identity was forced on us. I'd like for someone to tell me what is our identity as AAs actually based on? Is it mainly due to the fact that our ancestors were captured and forced to work as slaves, and they and we have suffered massive brutality and indignities during and in the aftermath of that? Racism?

I'm convinced that this is one of the main reasons why when AAs get large amounts of money, they tend to not feel any desire or no strong desire to invest it to support or nation-build with other AAs. Why would they? Aside from perhaps on an individual basis, what do they have in common with most other AAs?

I proposed, in one of my essays this morning, that AA women band together for support. The only reason why I proposed that AA women do that is because many AA women are in a similar situation for mostly the same reason. And what would really make this more of a challenge for AA women than it would be for many other groups of women is that many of us have very little in common aside from the need to do self-help with each other.

Khadija said...

A few superficial reactions while I'm digesting the "deeper than deep" points you have all raised:

@Black Girl in Maine:

Thank you for your kind words. I hope your relative gets over the HNIC Syndrome before he hurts himself or others at work.


Thanks for your kind words. You're bringing up something I had forgotten about the "mirrors for princes" books that I've read before: They ALL advocate keeping clear of losers. Meanwhile, as a culture, Black folks advocate the opposite---we encourage folks to carry losers on their backs.

@Sister Seeking:

I can't believe you were bold enough to "go there" in terms of lineage! Since most African-Americans like to pretend that lineage doesn't matter, that's the ultimate taboo! I'm watching your back! LOL!

About the quote from Seneca: But most African-Americans DO believe that it's the pinnacle of excellence to be better than the worst!


{smile} I am proud of the fact that I would be called a "tourist" by some members of the Black elite! LOL! I am proud of my grandmother who worked as a maid (cleaning up after White people). I am proud of my grandfather who worked as a handyman. I am impressed with what they accomplished with the limited materials and opportunities at hand.

I admire and respect what they did. May God rest their souls. They made my advantages possible. {no more smiles at this point, I'm deadly serious here} The type of people who would dismiss or demean them are me. Certainly not the sort of people that I would care to affiliate with. That's why I've never been interested in social-climbing. I respect and honor my parents and grandparents.

Neither grandparent would have asked for a tour, or taken pictures of anybody's home. It's important to point out that there are many poor and working class Black folks who don't have hang-ups about material things. They would like to have more, but it's not an emotionally-charged issue.

Maybe this is my "inner warlord" speaking, but I DON'T understand how the Black elites are content with NOT dominating any field, profession, or geographical area like the other elites I mentioned. This makes me wonder if the motives for this are the ones that Evia mentioned in her recent reply to your comment.


It's my understanding that, back in the day in the Chicago area, more than a few Black-owned car dealerships, law practices, dental practices, etc. were started with money gained by running "policy" wheels---running "numbers." My mother's high school boyfriend came from a family that was running a policy wheel.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Let me expand on my last comment:

What I expressed a few minutes ago is one of the (many) things that disgusts me about much of the Black middle-class: Here are people trying to cuddle up to folks (the Black elite) who are figuratively spitting on their parents and grandparents.

People are often confused about why I'm not offended by the Black elite's social exclusion. This is why---I'm offended by the middle class fools who would disrespect their own flesh and blood to be socially accepted by such people.

This isn't medieval Europe where cuddling up to "nobles" leads to ennoblement by the king. In that context, sucking up led to a permanent change in the fortunes of one's descendants. There IS NO "king." The Black elite are NOT captains (much less titans) of industry. The don't DOMINATE any field, endeavor, or geographical area.

As far as I'm concerned, anybody weak-minded enough to seek the acceptance of such people deserves to be disrespected, and jeered as a "tourist."

Peace, blessings and solidarity. said...

Amen and amen, Khadija!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa said...

@ All

Please... don't get the impression that I am part of the black elite!! *LOL* I spend my time among the underclass in crisis ministry...not in the Hamptons.

My grandfather was a white collar professional (an accountant) and in the black elite circles, that means I am identified as "third generation"...

I met a sista in church who casually said to me, "I'm fourth generation".

In an article in Harvard's paper, a black person mentioned that she was "fourth generation".

This is not a term you will hear among the middle class or the lower class...this categorization refers to family lineage AND socioeconomic class of the parents and grand parents and great grandparents.

My estimation is that after slavery, blacks who had wealth THEN have descendants now who would identify themselves as "fifth" generation. Maybe "sixth" but certainly NOT "seventh".

I am a preacher. I choose to live rather simply.

I don't live extravagantly because far too black folks who call themselves Christians will follow any "bling-bling" preacher who tells them he/she knows how to get blessings from God.

I know a preacher who drives a Rolls and people talk about her CAR more than they talk about her sermons or her spiritual gifts!

I don't live in a mansion. I don't have a chauffeur taking me around in a Bentley. I have taken the subway before. I've taken cabs before. And I eat at McDonald's and Burger King! *LOL*

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Khadija said...


As far as I'm concerned, there's NOTHING wrong with anybody being part of the Black elite. However that "elite" is defined by its members. There's also nothing wrong with Black folks going to the Hamptons (or anywhere else they want to go). [You didn't say or imply that there's anything wrong with this, but I wanted to make this particular public statement.]

I deeply resent Negroes who want to be the new "slavecatchers" to intercept any Black person who is going places that they deem inappropriate.

Freedom of mobility and freedom of choice are what our ancestors prayed for. They prayed for at least some of us to be able to LIVE WELL. Whatever "living well" means to each individual Black person.

I'm so sick of Black people begrudging other Black folks for living well!

Speaking for myself: There was a period as a college student when I let myself get mentally beaten down by the "acting Black" crew. This resulted in me feeling that it was somehow inappropriate for me to enjoy the blessings my parents had provided (by God's grace) unless I was also doing "community" work.

I praise God that I snapped out of that delusion, and realized that not only was I entitled to enjoy my blessings, but they were the result of answered prayers.

Whatever policy/strategy disagreements I have with other Black folks, I will NEVER begrudge them from LIVING WELL!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Rev. Lisa:

In the social circles that I was exposed to, it was not desireable to speak loudly or forcefully. Speaking in subdued tones was thought to be more refined.

My reply:

Interesting; that is how many middle class and upper class parents (of all backgrounds) teach their children to speak. I too was encouraged to speak quietly; it was deemed "lady-like."

I speak softly, but powerfully, in that I speak from the gut, but my voice is not loud.

That is what I found interesting about doing the recordings for my students, and it is what I find interesting about lecturing to a class of 100.

They get in and are chit-chatting before class begins, so I have to use my voice (which is soft) to get their attention; I find that I have to project my voice (which is not the same as being loud) and most importantly, use my presence to get their attention.

This points back to Khadija's point on professionalism and presenting oneself well: speaking articulately, wearing a suit, walking around the lecture hall, calling students by their last name, Mr./Ms., preparing well beforehand, and doing my best to lecture, lead discussion and answer questions...

This sort of thing matters. The students, black, white, whatever, see me and notice me.

When schools interview faculty, they are required to give a talk, as though they were lecturing--at the close of the talk, they answer questions from the audience.

In some places, it is recorded, which means the faculty have a chance to assess the prospective candidate's abilities in the classroom before even making a job offer.

It makes me think about what Sister Seeking spoke of, education and training. Are students being educated, but not trained to present themselves well? More students need to be involved in debating teams, moot court, etc.

I am probably one of the few or one of the last professional black women all of my students will see in an educational setting before they go off to live their lives after graduation.

I want to present an image that is worthy of who and what I am, and especially for the young black women who are working on finding their way. I see them studying me. The time for them to begin developing their professional identities is now.

foreverloyal said...

Khadija said:
"I deeply resent Negroes who want to be the new "slavecatchers" to intercept any Black person who is going places that they deem inappropriate.

Freedom of mobility and freedom of choice are what our ancestors prayed for. They prayed for at least some of us to be able to LIVE WELL. Whatever "living well" means to each individual Black person."

Thank you. I feel the same way.

Khadija said...

Another thought:

I'm happy Lisa went down the checklist of crappy behavior as it relates to other people's stuff. Unfortunately, most of our people think that this sort of behavior is appropriate. IT'S NOT.

I can still vividly remember an incident from high school. My best friend's mother dropped me off at home one night. The woman took the opportunity to walk waaaay deep into our living room. I couldn't believe she was that frantic to see what was inside our (mundane) house. I can still remember how violated I felt by this. IT WAS NOT COOL.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Pioneer Valley Woman,

Your description of "mock lectures" during interviews brought back vivid memories of mock trials during Trial Advocacy classes in law school. They made videotapes of everyone's little performance. It was excruciating to sit through my tape. I had no idea that I had what felt like a million verbal tics. Ewwww!!

Sister Seeking/Miriam,

After reflecting on your earlier point, it's apparent that the bulk of Black folks with degrees have been trained, NOT educated. And the attitude of many of us with degrees is all wrong when it comes to learning.

They are not intellectually curious; and many feel that there's no need to learn anything else. After all, there won't be anymore tests. I'm not making class distinctions with this observation; I've seen this across the board with many Black folks.

There's a short leap from this attitude to being the sort of person that nobody can tell anything to. Certainly not anybody who's less "officially" educated. This is very shortsighted.

When I first started working, I made a point of asking the Black court reporters to please tell me if they saw me doing anything goofy in court. The court reporters see and hear what everybody is doing. They see lots of good lawyers over the years; and plenty of bad ones, too. They KNOW.

This is how I found out about (and eliminated) many of my verbal tics. [Such as ending each question with the word, "Okay."]They've helped me a lot over the years.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

@Forever Loyal: You're welcome!

Peace and blessings.

tasha212 said...


Wonderful post,as usual. I have worked with many black supervisors and have observed many of the qualities that you and others have discussed. Most black people that I've worked for, especially the women, are petty and jealous, overly judgemental, and insecure. They have a problem if they perceive that another black person has bigger dreams than they do. They automatically view other blacks as competition. They go out of their way to ingratiate themselves to white people so that they can be the "pet" black person. They are often ignorant, loud, and unprofessional. For all of their education they remain as closed-minded and superficial as they claim the people with less education are.

I must confess that I often felt ashamed of my middle class upbringing. I somehow always felt that it made me less black (as if there is such a thing). I was raised in a household where education, business and property ownership, and achievement were pushed on a daily basis. I never got the whole thing about scholastic achievement being a "white" thing to do. I understand the historical origins of this attitude, but I don't get it. I also was raised by my mother in particular to speak standard english. She would not allow me or my sister to speak slang. I leaned to code switch early. I honestly don't think that anything is wrong with speaking Black English, but it is absolutely inappropriate in some situations. Like when you're presenting a motion to the judge. Or when you're in a job interview. Or when your profession requires that you speak clear and crisp diction. The problem is that most people don't learn to switch. We've learned to embrace ignorance. It is definitely to our detriment.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Tasha!

Thank you for you kind words. I am outraged that we've allowed a situation & ideology (as Hagar's Daughter has described it) to take hold that authentic Blackness = poverty.

This is insane. We are insane if we allow this to continue. It's time for everybody who knows better to aggresively & loudly reject this ideology whenever it's being promoted!

We'll have to agree to disagree. I feel that the Ebonics mess is just another part of the above "ideology." I also believe that it reflects self-hatred for our African origins. Notice that we will do anything, and promote anything, to avoid learning an actual ancestral African language!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

g-e-m2001 said...

Wow, this really spoke to me. I actually struggle with the absolute authority I have over the online communities I run.

But I am trying to get better. and yet I have horrible supervisor stories as well.

Khadija said...

Welcome, Gina!

Part of the problem is that (as a people) we don't have many examples of majestic-level leadership to look to for guidance. Instead, we have lots of HNICs.

The other part of the problem is that there don't seem to be any really good modern "mirrors for princes" books. All of the good stuff seems to come from the Renaissance period. Which most of us are unaware of (due to the narrow nature of what passes for education these days).

Those modern people who are providing majestic leadership in their fields don't seem to be writing books explaining how they did it.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.