Miguel’s tweet about black people being the “most judgmental people in the world” really ticked a lot of people off, but a black celebrity chastising other black folk is nothing new. From Bill Cosby to the Obamas, there seems to be plenty of finger wagging from black people who have moved on up to that de-luxe apartment in the sky. What is it about fame that seems to make black people turn around and scold the people who very likely got them to where they are in the first place?
Successful blacks preaching to us lowly Joes hanging out at the bottom of the social ladder is nothing new. The National Council of Negro Women’s motto “Lifting as We Climb” captures their belief that the successful, refined Negro woman, as she advances, should reach down and pluck her unevolved cohorts out of social inferiority. And then there’s WEB DuBois’ whole venomously elitist Talented Tenth thing.
So Bill Cosby screaming at youngsters to pull their pants up and get off his lawn was annoying, yes, but nothing new. Lately, however, there seems to be an influx of black personalities criticizing black masses in a way that can almost only be described as elitist. At Bowie State University’s graduation this year, First Lady Michelle Obama bemoaned black kids who aspire to be rappers and ball players “instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader.” President Obama has stepped on a few toes by coming at black fathers. Even rapper A$AP Rocky — whose opinions we care about for reasons unbeknownst to me — is in on the act, accusing black women of being “too sensitive” after an uproar over his claims that black women shouldn’t wear red lipstick. It seems that when black folks finally get a piece of the pie, they yell at the rest of us about what’s keeping us from getting our own.
But is it helping? I’m of the opinion that it isn’t. The unfortunate thing about famous people now having a platform is that sometimes those platforms are used to spout rather unintelligent, ridiculous thoughts and beliefs. That’s what we got with both A$AP Rocky and Miguel — black people can be judgmental, yes, but so are people of every culture. And black women can’t wear red lipstick? I beg to differ, honey. And when the stars are talking about actual, valid points, they’re usually barking up the wrong tree for solutions. You can tell a child to aspire to be more than a rapper or athlete, yes, but if rappers and athletes are the only successful people a child sees, what else do you expect him to want to be? This seems to be a more a problem of poverty and access than a simple craving for a glamorous life. And you may think that kids sagging their pants and using the “n-word” is holding us back as a people, Bill Cosby, but there are bigger problems at hand.
Overall, griping about what black people need to stop doing and start doing is something that a lot of us do. We just hear it from celebrities because, well, they’re celebrities. Their positions in the spotlight gives amplifies their voices. But unless they’re harping about actual problems and not symptoms of bigger problems, and unless they’re actually trying to do something to help solve the problems, it’s all for naught. And when you’re just talking drivel like Miguel and A$AP, somebody needs to cut off your mic.