Tuesday, December 9, 2014

So-Called “Respectability Politics” = What Used To Be Called Common Sense

A very interesting conversation recently came up over at Neecy's blog. Since African-Americans (AAs) have now become a permanent underclass in this country, any AA Black woman who wants to have a better quality of life can't afford to be confused about common sense.

Because her quality of life for years to come—and her future children’s quality of life for years to come—depend on her not falling for the various new school AA “okey-dokes” that will undermine and destroy any possibility of living an abundant lifestyle.

What (mostly fatherless, born out of wedlock) new school AA fools refer to as Respectability Politics (RP) tend to be the following behaviors that Evia described in a comment to the same post:

  • Behaving in a well-mannered way in public;
  • Not engaging in petty crimes;
  • Using good grammar;
  • Practicing sexual discipline and/or using common sense about sex;
  • Studying and getting good grades;
  • Saving and investing money;
  • Getting married before having children;
  • Raising one's children well;
  • Having and supporting out own businesses;
  • Chastising out own people when called for;
Etc., etc., etc.,

Nobody in their right mind has a problem with any of these behaviors. Much less scorns these behaviors as being RP. Anybody who scorns these behaviors is either working through some sort of emotional problem related to their own family of origin's FAILURE to do the above, or that person must want AAs to remain a permanent underclass. Because this is just plain common sense.

Another commenter named JaliliMaster pointed out the verbal trick that Blacks who object to common sense standards (reject so-called RP) use when she said:
Respect is earned, not handed out like bonbons at a kids party. So yes, some women (and men) are far less deserving of respect than others (and I suspect you know this, hence the reason you decided to throw in the word ‘humanity’, so that you can quietly imply that if anyone is giving less respect to someone due to their own actions, they are somehow denying them their humanity. Slick). If you want to behave in a ratchet or uncouth manner, by all means do, but you have no right to dictate how others perceive you or the opinions they form of you due to the things you say and do. Bw (and bp in general) like to complain about this or that negative stereotype, saying they should be judged on the content of their character and not the colour of their skin. Yet, when they ARE judged on the content of their character (your actions and words are the best tool to be used to determine one’s character), these same folks complain about being judged at all! It’s like the whore wanting to get the same respect that the soccer mom gets, or the small time crook wanting the same respect as the doctor, or the rude obnoxious person wanting and expecting people to think as highly of them as they do of the polite and friendly person. IT IS INSANITY! Yet folks still wonder why no one takes Black folks seriously!
Yeah, she's absolutely right.

Please note that in the context of the conversation surrounding two recent posts at Neecy's blog,
“hole-drilling” refers to AA women who are metaphorically drilling holes in the AA collective's “boat,” thereby helping to cause it to sink.  
Anyway, I said the following:

Neecy, I have the same question that One Less Soldier asked. 
In my humble opinion, the term “Respectability Politics” is a loaded term that is generally used by Blacks with a certain type of mindset (I’ll get to that in a moment), and/or who tend to come from a certain type of family background. Going by the things you’re saying in this follow-up post, I get the feeling that you might not be using that term “respectability politics” (RP for short) in the same way the “usual suspects” among AA Blacks are using that term. I could be wrong, please correct me if I am. 
Short version: I co-sign JaliliMaster’s comment from the previous post.  
Long version: In most of the instances I’ve seen the RP term used, it’s used by AA Blacks who are trying to shame other AA Blacks for having or enforcing any standards at all in terms of conduct, character and comportment. Most of the AA Blacks who use the term RP reject the concept of there being any such thing as good character and bad character. Because having standards involves judging and assessing people.  
The folks who use the RP term typically want every choice and every type of behavior to be considered “equal.” Meanwhile, the real world doesn’t and won’t consider every choice and every type of behavior to be “equal” or “equivalent.” Never has, never will.
To put it bluntly, most of the Blacks I’ve seen scorn what they call RP were born out of wedlock themselves to single mothers and want to defend that particular choice (of having children oow). Keep in mind, AAs now have several generations of adult AAs who were born oow.  
The Blacks I’ve seen scorn what they call RP also tend to be emotionally invested in defending the entire web of other poor choices and inferior life circumstances (oh, such as poverty and welfare) that have often been observed to accompany oow childbearing. The Blacks I’ve seen scorn what they call RP interpret any Black person speaking in support of wholesome, prudent behavior; wholesome, married-based childrearing; and the generally superior life circumstances that tend to flow from wholesome lifestyle choices as a personal affront and attack on their own single mother and/or an attack on the sperm donor who created them out of wedlock.  
Basically, talking about anything that touches on the idea of having standards stirs up a lot of unresolved issues and RAGE among the modern population of AA Blacks, many of whom were born out of wedlock themselves and grew up fatherless. In my observation, it’s similar to how any AA Black woman talking about her treasured experiences of growing up as a Daddy’s girl will automatically send many of the modern-day born-out-of-wedlock, fatherless AA BW into an enraged frenzy. Some topics stir up fatherless Black folks’ unresolved issues surrounding their fatherlessness and prompt them to lash out at anybody who is praising standards and the generally-observed superior results of having standards.  
I believe that folks should be aware that any topic that touches on the idea of having any sort of standards is a “3rd rail” for many modern day AAs. Because, even though they won’t admit it out loud (although their reactions to things tells on them)—many modern day AAs know that they’ll come up short if the level of stability in their personal family background, their personal levels of achievement, or their quality of their life is compared to that of a typical person from any other ethnicity.

I would humbly suggest that you side-step anybody who throws the term “respectability politics” at you, and/or tries to pressure you away from having standards. :-)

Thanks for explaining what you mean by RP. Here are my thoughts in response.
I personally believe that RP are mostly a good thing. Because the behaviors that are typically perceived as engaging in RP (as Evia succinctly summarized them): 
—“. . . . behaved in a well-mannered way in public, didn’t engage in petty crimes, used good grammar, practiced more sexual discipline or used common sense about sex, studied and got good grades, saved and invested money, got married before having children, raised our children well, had and supported our own businesses, chastised our own, etc.”— 
Lead to the MUCH increased probability of individual and group success. AAs can pretend like we don’t know this, but it’s Reality/Common Sense 101. And we can all see this reality played out in the rise of the immigrant ethnic groups that practice these common sense values, such as immigrant Muslims, East Indians, and Asians. 
Modern day, mostly fatherless AA adults don’t want to clean up their behavior. So they come up with all sorts of sophisticated-sounding (but lacking in common sense) ideological jargon to take the focus off of their self-defeating, inferior behaviors.  

Modern day, mostly fatherless AA adults ALSO deliberately ascribe false motivations to those other AA Blacks who choose to “behave in a well-mannered way in public, don’t engage in petty crimes, use good grammar, practice more sexual discipline, study and get good grades, save and invest money, get married before having children,” etc,, etc., etc.
Modern day, mostly fatherless AA adults like to claim that those other AA Blacks who do these things are doing so to appease White people. NO, most people I’ve encountered who “behave in a well-mannered way in public, etc., etc.,” do so because they were raised well—they were raised to behave and carry themselves in this fashion, AND they know that doing these things increase the odds of success in life. Full stop. Period.  
It’s similar to the goofy claim that any AA Black student who studies and gets good grades is somehow “acting White.” Sane, civilized, gracious behavior and lifestyles shouldn’t be perceived as a bad thing. Which is what has happened among the modern, fatherless masses of AAs. This is typical Dead AA Collective upside-down, inside-out, down-is-up sort of distorted thinking.  
Here’s where I agree to disagree with part of what you’re saying.  
NEECY SAID (I’ve emphasized certain parts in bold): 
—“But When we say that the other sisters are making it bad for us because of their actions, then we are saying that if only they straightened up, our situations would be better. We’ve put all our eggs in their basket, and frankly that will get us nowhere because we cannot grab every BW “not acting right” and beat them into submission.”— 
I believe there are several unwarranted assumptions in the above statement. First, I don’t recall hearing or seeing anybody saying that IF ONLY “hole-drilling” BW straighten up then things would be better for AABW in general. Because I don’t recall hearing or seeing anybody saying that “hole-drilling” BW are the ONLY source of BW’s problems. “Hole-drilling” BW are PART of the problem. And since they’re part of what’s causing BW’s problems, if these women would cease and desist from their “hole-drilling” behaviors, then AABW would be better off. Because it’s always better to reduce parts of a problem than have it remain full-sized (or grow).   
I also disagree with your view that sane, sensible, civilized BW “put all [their] eggs in their basket.” [Put all their eggs in the basket of trying to get “hole-drilling” BW to stop drilling holes.] I believe there’s an unwarranted assumption in this statement. For a sane, sensible, civilized BW to say, “I don’t like hole-drilling behavior, it’s creating and adding to problems, and I’d prefer that the hole-drillers knock it off” does not equal putting all one’s eggs in any particular basket. It simply means that person is saying that they don’t like hole-drilling behavior, they feel it’s creating or adding to problems, and would prefer that it stop. 
Here’s the thing—“Hole-drilling” AAs and Their Ideological Cheerleaders don’t want any criticism whatsoever to be made of these hole-drilling behaviors. I believe this posture is rooted in many of these people being the children of “hole-drilling” BW and coming from “hole-drilling” homes. Basically, modern AAs have come up with all sorts of sophisticated-sounding ideology and jargon to massage their various emotional problems. Including and especially the emotional problems and deficits caused by fatherlessness and being raised by a single mother. 
So when in your earlier post you sounded like you were striking a blow against RP—and by extension, against the moral and family VALUES underlying RP—a lot of Born OOW/Fatherless Readers and Readers Who Cheerlead OOW/Pretending That Fatherlessness Is A-Okay quickly latched onto your post and ran with it. In my view, they ran with your earlier post in a way that you might not have intended*. Which is what caused many of the other comments in opposition to the Readers Who Cheerlead OOW/Pretend That Fatherlessness Is A-Okay. All of which is what caused the conversation in the earlier post to go off the rails. LOL. 
[*I didn’t think you necessarily meant RP in the way these other folks did because I’ve never seen you act like OOW & Fatherlessness is just fine and dandy–LOL!] 

Ladies, if you want to live well, get FAR away from anybody who scorns common sense as so-called Respectability Politics.

Your quality of life for years to come—and your future children’s quality of life for years to come—depends on it.