Thursday, February 21, 2019

Why the black bourgeoisie loves race reductionism, plus reading Margo Jefferson’s Negroland

The black bourgeoisie loves race reductionism because it makes them heroes. They hate adding class to the analysis because that make them part of the problem.

This bit from Margo Jefferson’s Negroland about the black elite before the Civil War is fundamentally true today:
What did it mean to be a privileged free Negro?
...Free in the North to agitate against slavery and for voting rights while excluding Negroes with fewer accomplishments from your social circles.
Free in the South to lobby for your fluctuating rights while deeming it wise to ignore the claims of poorer, darker free Negroes.
Free to labor for privilege in the hopes that your children would be entitled to it.
I’ve just started the book, but I’m very impressed with it, both for Jefferson’s observations and her quotes. She notes that W.E.B. DuBois described the black bourgeoisie as “...a group of selfish, self-indulgent, well-to-do men whose basic interest in solving the Negro problem was personal; personal freedom and use of the world” with no “arousing care as to what became of the mass of American Negroes.”