When Black Folk Don’t Like Something, It Doesn’t Always Mean We’re Crabs In A Barrel

September 28, 2016  |  

There was no way Mary J. Blige could have missed all the opinions, most of them negative, about the trailer for her upcoming, sit down interview with Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In case you missed the discussion, it wasn’t good. And people immediately likened it to the Burger King, Crispy Chicken calamity of 2012.

The backlash was swift and strong. And apparently, after hearing about it for the past two days, Mary was tired.

There are several screenshots circling the internet of a quickly posted and deleted tweet.

When Black Folk Don't Like Something, It Doesn't Always Mean We're Crabs In A Barrel

There was also this one.

When Black Folk Don't Like Something, It Doesn't Always Mean We're Crabs In A Barrel

As you can see the time and date stamps are different on each one. At first, I thought perhaps I could blame this on a time zone difference. But then the minutes would have been the same and they’re not even close. Plus, the hashtag is different. That’s not to say I believe the tweet or tweets are fake. Celebrities frequently tweet and delete, knowing they have every intention of letting as many people as possible see their thoughts and opinions. Still, it is questionable. And Mary, having been in the game as long as she has, might have the foresight not to fall into such a trap.

But for the sake of argument—which is why we’re all here right—let’s assume that it is real. And not just for the sake of discussing Mary’s alleged tweet. But also for all Black entertainers who expect and assume Black people will ride for them, in all of their foolishness, simply because we identify with the same culture.

I understand that the crabs in a barrel mentality is a thing. Black people can often be overly critical of one another, all because there is this notion that there’s only room for a few of us and the success of one, means that the rest of us will struggle. But there are also times when Black people expressing their disinterest and displeasure in something another Black person does, is a just a matter of preference. And in this case, deep concern about the ways in which issues that effect us all are being misrepresented and misconstrued on a grand stage.

I’m sorry but there are very few instances when singing directly into someone’s face is going to read well on camera. Very few. Perhaps Beyoncé singing to cancer patients who requested to attend one of her concerts, or Lance Gross wooing America Ferrera with Babyface’s “Soon As I Get Home” in Our Family Wedding. Other than that, the instances in which singing a ballad inches away from someone, while grabbing their hand always comes across as awkward and uncomfortable. And that was the look we saw Hillary try to mask in the trailer for the upcoming Apple Music interview. I could almost hear her mental chatter, “Anything for the Black vote. Anything for the Black vote.”

Because, while I respect and admire Mary’s career and her spirit, it seems like the only reason she was chosen was so that she could pander to a certain sect of Black women who might not be with Hillary yet. The trailer was a single minute but the desperation reeked. So I can’t imagine what the full interview might entail.

The idea to have Mary sing, poorly, about something as serious and pressing as police brutality made a farce out of a situation that is literally taking the lives of innocent Black men and women. People were on social media likening the whole thing to an SNL skit. And with another innocent, person with Black skin dying every other day, we can’t afford for there to be any comedy or confusion about this issue.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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