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Thread: Respectability Politics

  1. #1
    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    Respectability Politics

    how do you feel about them, as it pertains to men and women?

    let's discuss
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

  2. #2
    Registered User Lucianite is offline
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    Never heard of this before ... But looking up and reading

    Ill B back

    What are your thoughts ?

  3. #3
    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucianite View Post
    Never heard of this before ... But looking up and reading

    Ill B back

    What are your thoughts ?
    what Don Lemon preaches...and what Chinky spoke about in the Chris Rock thread

    “I Hate Myself!”: What are Respectability Politics, and Why do Black People Subscribe to Them? | A Line in the Sand

    You may not be familiar with the term “respectability politics”, but you’ve heard them before. Maybe you’ve even engaged in them. Whether it’s Don Lemon’s recent rant, actor Romany Malco’s open letter to Trayvon Martin sympathizers following the George Zimmerman trial, Bill Cosby’s 2004 “Pound Cake speech” and even The Talk co-host Sheryl Underwood’s remarks about nappy hair, respectability politics remain an enormous part of our conversations about Black American culture.

    So what exactly are respectability politics? In short, they are an undefined yet understood set of ideas about how Black people should live positively and how we should define Black American culture. Ironically, they’re usually a huge hindrance to both.
    A Brief History Lesson

    This whole idea of respectability politics began to solidify at the end of the 19th century, when a bold group of Black women from the Baptist Convention – a well-intentioned, church womenimportant, pro-Black, yet chauvinist, and patriarchal organization – broke off to form their own group: the Women’s Convention. On the positive side, an essential part of their focus was to uplift the Black community, while perpetuating a sense of solidarity and philanthropy. Unfortunately, in practice it involved a lot of patronizing behaviors towards “lower-class” Black people. For instance, one of their major campaigns was to go into impoverished Black communities and hand out pamphlets that “taught” these po’ folks how to “behave” in public places, the value of chastity, and even how to properly bathe themselves. Side note: if you’ve read that and don’t have a problem with those three things as important values, that’s understandable. Now, imagine someone comes to your front door regularly to remind you to do them…

    These respectability politics gained popularity and organization nationwide, and solidified into a regular part of Black life. For example, the Chicago Defender, one of the country’s most important Black media outlets, published the following list weekly as a reminder to its newly arrived Southern readers who came to Chicago during the Great Migration:

    DON’T HANG OUT THE WINDOWS.
    DON’T SIT AROUND IN THE YARD AND ON THE PORCH BAREFOOT AND UNKEMPT.
    DON’T WEAR HANDKERCHIEFS ON YOUR HEAD.
    DON’T USE VILE LANGUAGE IN PUBLIC PLACES.
    DON’T ALLOW CHILDREN TO BEG ON THE STREETS.
    DON’T APPEAR ON THE STREET WITH OLD DUST CAPS, DIRTY APRONS, AND RAGGED CLOTHES.
    DON’T THROW GARBAGE IN THE BACKYARD OR ALLEY OR KEEP DIRTY FRONT YARDS.

    Behold the Underlying Truth

    Don’t the above admonishments sound familiar? And note how every statement begins in the negative. That’s because the primary premise in which respectability politics are grounded is that Black American culture – and Black Americans themselves – are broken and need to be fixed. And “fixing” means improving the “Black underclass” that holds us back. It reminds me of the movie A Soldier’s Story, and in particular, the character Sgt. Waters. The scene below epitomizes what respectability politics cause the Black bourgeoisie to do to the Black “underclass”.



    Waters has made it his personal mission to rid the army – and maybe the world (?) – of ignorant negritude, starting with CJ. Apparently he thinks the work he’s doing will leave us with Negrus superioris, purifying the race and eliminating all traces of inferior Black folks. Sergeant Waters, and those who think like him, are actually suffering though. This later clip reveals that anguish and the secondary premise of respectability politics:





    Wanna hear it again? Go to 1:04 on the video. The secondary, sinister premise of respectability politics is the belief that teaching Black people to meet White cultural standards is the way to improve Black culture. From talking “proper”, to hair straightening, to skin bleaching, to more coded ideas like “acting White”, respectability politics teach us that the White man’s ice really is colder. In a country that operates on the premise that Black people are inferior, respectability politics cause the sort of sentiment the utterly defeated Waters whimpers at the 1:04 mark. He’s realized that after years of trying to get White people to see Black people as equals by teaching them “White culture”, he’s actually the broken one who needs to be fixed.



    What’s an Alternative, Then?

    In my critiques of the Civil Rights Movement, I’ve said that the focus on changing laws and changing peoples’ hearts overshadowed efforts to define and build Black American culture. While all three are important, the lack of emphasis on that third aspect has left us today with respectability politics as a giant cultural hurdle. Black American culture, like all cultures, is continuously being defined and redefined. The next step then, is to Kwanzaa cardreplace striving to emulate a White American cultural construct (the concept of “White culture” as everything positive, wonderful, and goal-worthy) with striving toward a Black one. Love it, hate it, or leave it, the Kwanzaa holiday is an excellent example of Black Americans deciding for themselves what Black American culture will be. While it incorporates ideas from other cultures (as all cultural traditions do), it isn’t based upon turning Black American culture into someone else’s “superior” one. And to be clear, whether or not we choose to identify with our African roots as we define Black American culture – though I’ve chosen an example that does – is nowhere near as important as the overall act of simply continuing to define Black American culture in general. As long as we move purposefully away from respectability politics, we’ll continue to eliminate the self-hatred that hinders us from continuing to positively do so.

    Maurice “Mo the Educator” Dolberry has taught grades 6 through 20, and has worked at both public and independent schools from Minnesota to Florida to Washington and other places in between. He is currently an adjunct college instructor while working on his PhD in multicultural education at the University of Washington. Maurice believes that the “geechie” is actually more important to Black American culture then Sgt. Waters.

    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

  4. #4
    Registered User dedetriniking's Avatar dedetriniking is offline
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    So that's what its called now huh! BTW great movie and the sergeant's role was both vexing and sad at the same time.
    I hath 9 and 90 tribulations and nary a one doth concern a wench!

  5. #5
    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    now when it comes to women...it's mainly centered around sexuality

    Black Women

    Although the demeaning stereotypical perception of Black women was pivoted on White middle-class patriarchal ideals, Black women’s efforts to counter these stereotypes and shatter their negative image were paradoxically molded according to the very values that condemned, enslaved and degraded them. Indeed, the debate and discourse about respectability within the Black community which pervaded the Progressive Era and substantially affected Black activism of that time was at the heart of a whole strategy to “uplift” Black Americans. Moreover, respectability discourse was consistently a gendered one. The Black reformists’ strategy of racial advancement placed an exaggerated importance on Black female deference. Hereby, Black females strived to abide by the canons of respectability which rested from about the 1890s to the 1920s on “bourgeois values of thrift, sexual restraint, cleanliness and hard work.”38 Therefore, many Black women took courses in domestic service at training schools, such as the National Training School, and many others participated in domestic training programs in order to ameliorate their standards of cleanliness and orderliness. Black women’s magazines advertised fashionable and respectable clothes.39 Female ideologues and activists published articles in African American periodicals and delivered lectures nationwide preaching female respectability. Such institutions for racial reform as the Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the Second Baptist Church and the Detroit Study Club were actively instrumental in these reform tactics.40



    15For African American leaders and intellectuals, the politics of respectability first emerged as a way to counter the negative stereotypes of Black Americans as lazy, stupid and immoral, as well as the racist discourses of the nineteenth century. Paradoxically, this tactic also reflected an acceptance and internalization of such representations by attempting to reform the behavior of individuals and erasing structural forms of oppression such as racism, sexism and poverty.41 According to Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, the politics of respectability “equated non-conformity with the cause of racial inequality and injustice. The conservative and moralistic dimension tended to privatize racial discrimination thus rendering it outside the authority of government regulation.”42 The aim was thus to instill dignity and self-respect while also challenging negative, stereotypical images of African Americans. However, it did not recognize the power of racism and left little room for those who chose not to conform. Being concerned with presenting positive images of Black life, African American intellectuals and scholars found themselves caught up with narrow representations of Black women. As Black women were denied the privileges of femininity and protection from violence, Black intellectuals and activists developed a discourse of protection. Jacqueline Dowd Hall used the term, “rhetoric of protection” to describe the discourses of a pure and protected White womanhood in the American South which was “reflective of a power struggle between men [, for] the right of the southern lady to protection pre- supposed her obligation to obey.”43 Black male desire to “protect” Black women was reflective of the power struggle between Black and White men and Black men and Black women.44 The promise of protection has a long history in Black politics but is not without a cost. As a matter of fact, protection assumes a stance of victimization on the part of those who need to be protected.


    16Besides, in order to rise in status through the creation of a respectable identity, middle-class Black female reformists or in Wolcott’s words, “guardians of bourgeois respectability,”45 policed the working class women’s behaviors and attacked Black women who did not uphold the standards of respectable womanhood such as blues singers, gamblers, prostitutes and performers. Blues singers’ lyrics were redolent with sexual images, which conflicted with this “respectable” identity.46 Endeavors to dismantle these distorted images resonated with White middle class ideals of domesticity, chastity and sexual restraint. In addition, owing to differences in the cultural, political and social context Black working-class women’s views and understanding of respectability during the Progressive Era were sometimes different from those of Black middle-class women’s. For example, whereas working-class women might have found it preferable to leave domestic service, in order to escape sexual harassment in private homes and to focus on long-term goals for their daughters, middle-class Black women were more concerned with better working conditions and pay. Despite divergences, however, racial uplift transcended class differences and respectability received support from both working- and middle-class women and therefore “chastity, domesticity and racial pride shaped the childhood and early education of Black women from different class backgrounds.”47 In this regard, since perpetuating “sexual purity” was central to reform work, Black women across classes embraced a new sexual identity of passionlessness. While for working-class women this attitude was a shield against sexual harassment and rape, it was for middle-class women a tool to appeal to Whites and gain status. For this reason, Black women adhered to a cult of secrecy. Even when sexually abused and harassed, they remained silent.48 In addition to its being a protective cloak, silence was also a kind of denial of Black women’s own sexuality, which underpinned their claims to moral superiority. This is conspicuously articulated in most of the Black female literary works of that time, such as in Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s Iola Leroy or Shadows Uplifted (1893), Pauline Hopkins’ Contending Forces (1899) and Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928).


    17Members of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Black female literati deployed social, political and literary conventions of their time in order to promote the ideology of racial progress built on female deference and passionlessness. Thus, novelists such as Hopkins and Harper created virtuous, often light-skinned mulatta heroines “whose sexual purity reigned on the printed page as a rebuttal to the racist imaging of Black women as morally loose and readily accessible.”49 In Contending Forces, for instance, Hopkins’s advocacy of passionlessness is clearly displayed in her main character, Sappho whose adherence to the sexual standards of her time makes her hide her experience of incestuous rape, deny her own son and adopt a new sexual identity. Therefore, her escape is an attempt to bury her shameful past that can be a blemish on the whole Black community. Sappho’s deliberate silence and silencing of her past is thence due to her “acceptance of traditional standards of virtue.”50



    18In Iola Leroy or Shadows Uplifted, Frances Harper’s attractive heroine, Iola, refuses affairs with various masters in order to remain pure and chaste, and therefore marriageable. This is definitely her strategy for being empowered in a society imaging all Black women’s sexuality as “primitive and exotic”.51 Harper tried, like many of her contemporaries, “to portray post-war Black society and construct a fin-de-siècle blueprint for the future of the race.”52 Iola’s sexual purity and restraint, dictated by a social and a political purpose, are instrumental in her elevation and that of her Black race to which Iola like Harper is committed.


    19Likewise, inNella Larsen’s Quicksand, Helga’s (the mulatta heroine) represses her sexuality, and her sexlessness is a means to dispute White stereotypes about Black women’s sexuality. Furthermore, the sacrifice of her emotions and sexual desires makes her leave racist America for Denmark where she “channels her unacknowledged sexuality into the pleasures of consumeristic purchasing and self-display as the wealthy Dahls dress her in gorgeous clothes and show off her ‘exotic’ beauty to their friends.”53 Again, in Denmark, Helga’s refusal of Axel Olsen’s marriage proposal displays her resistance to the distorted image projected onto Black females as primitive, savage, hot-blooded and exotic – the very forces that entail Helga’s denial and self-sacrifice of her own desires. In addition, Helga’s rejection of the proposal echoes her disapproval of the portrait Axel has painted of her. His portraiture of Helga as a female of “the warm impulsive nature of the women of Africa”, but “with the soul of a prostitute” selling herself to “the highest buyer”54 is for Helga not the true picture of her but of a “some disgusting sensual creature with her features”.55

    20In short, in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fiction, as Carby asserts:



    Black female sexuality was displaced onto the terrain of the political responsibility of the Black woman. The duty of the Black heroine toward the Black community was made coterminous with her desire as a woman, a desire which was expressed as a dedication to uplift the race.56

    21In fact, the fictional displacement of Black women’s sexuality and their passionlessness mirror the new identity they forged as a protective cloak against the demeaning images – licentious Jezebels, seductive and dangerous mulattas – they had been given. The new identity was also a means to mitigate the blemished perception of Backs that was due largely to Black females’ negative portrayal. Hereby Black women’s responsibility towards their community and their commitment to racial uplift fashioned their behaviors, attitudes, with their identity.
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

  6. #6
    Registered User Lucianite is offline
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    Well the examples speak for themselves for me between Cosby and the sarge in a soldiers story clearly it's rooted in seeking the approval of whites ...... Quite prevalent though....... I notice everyone takes liberty in telling " black folx " how tweet should act

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    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedetriniking View Post
    So that's what its called now huh! BTW great movie and the sergeant's role was both vexing and sad at the same time.
    it's pretty much always been called that

    but Lucianite....to answer your question....a part of me has been CONDITIONED to believe that this is how we should be....but i am smart enough to know it is not effective when dealing with racism

    i also see that many men are getting frustrated with it, because they know it's not effective and they are attempting to reject those respectability standards




    yet, at the same time, as we collectively reject respectability politics for our men....we still try to enforce it for our women.....which i think is hypocritical and bullshit
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

  8. #8
    Registered User Lucianite is offline
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    [it should be about personal responsibility

  9. #9
    Registered User Lucianite is offline
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    To be honest as I thought about it for women
    I had to pause
    I was working in mind why is it different . Hmmm.
    I

  10. #10
    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucianite View Post
    To be honest as I thought about it for women
    I had to pause
    I was working in mind why is it different . Hmmm.
    I
    your thoughts are coming out a little erratic, not sure if i am following you
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

  11. #11
    Registered User Lucianite is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by NikkiGiovanni View Post
    your thoughts are coming out a little erratic, not sure if i am following you
    I was multitasking and barely awake
    But "respectably politics " is bad for women too as it is in the racial context

    I think the picking up the shoe thread was an example
    "If women would pick up their husbands shoes then relationships will be better "

    Are there " gender roles" ?

  12. #12
    Warrior Queen NikkiGiovanni's Avatar NikkiGiovanni is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucianite View Post
    I was multitasking and barely awake
    But "respectably politics " is bad for women too as it is in the racial context

    I think the picking up the shoe thread was an example
    "If women would pick up their husbands shoes then relationships will be better "

    Are there " gender roles" ?
    precisely....

    but there are gender roles and the roles are flexible....problem comes when people, mostly men, aren't flexible with the roles
    you ALL AGREE with my opinion, which is why NONE of you ever EFFECTIVELY DISPUTE IT

    you ONLY have faith in the WOMEN'S ability to ELEVATE which is why you only FOCUS ON WOMEN...you ALL have long given up on Black men

    you just don't have the BALLS to OVERTLY AGREE....rather just do it INDIRECTLY

    weak men only can deal with weaker women

    in the presence of strength you diminish...

  13. #13
    Registered User FrostedFlake is offline
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    What’s an Alternative, Then?

    In my critiques of the Civil Rights Movement, I’ve said that the focus on changing laws and changing peoples’ hearts overshadowed efforts to define and build Black American culture. While all three are important, the lack of emphasis on that third aspect has left us today with as a giant cultural hurdle.

    ^He says what I always believe...how do you spend all your time and effort destroying the 'old house' (slavery, ism and skism) and never had a blueprint prepared for the 'new house' (freedom)...with freedom comes tremendous 'responsibility'...and you wonder why the black man have been running away from their responsibilities ever since.....if you partake in blk culture you are guarantee to fail in life, love and happiness...Fukk blk culture and its leaders

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