The uppity Black person narrative has harmed many Black people

The uppity Black person narrative has harmed many Black people

The anger towards Meghan Markle is not harmless, and it is dangerous ——for ALL Black people. 

Black people being anything more than subjugated is in part what fuels the violent side of white supremacy. 

The anger in situations where Black people discuss racism, yet don’t seem “poor” enough to elicit empathy is part of the Lost Cause lie. A narrative later fictionalized in the first U.S. blockbuster film”Birth of a Nation.” 

According to the Lost Cause, if you’re Black and not in abject poverty, you’re stealing from white people.

In the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation,” (all Black characters played by white actors in blackface) Silas Lynch, a “psychopathic mulatto” heads to South Carolina with a white “carpetbagger” to observe the implementation of Reconstruction policies firsthand.  Lynch is slanderously based on real-life biracial Reconstruction-era South Carolina lieutenant governor Alonzo J. Ransier. At some point, Lynch is nominated and then is elected lieutenant governor. In the film Lynch’s victory is owed to the dastardly Black people who stuffed the ballot box and unrealistically fanciful white Southern voter disenfranchisement. All this to cleverly orchestrate a fraudulent election. Post election the newly elected, almost all Black Carolina legislature members are shown at their desks as caricatures, dancing, eating fried chicken, watermelon, drinking alcohol, and destroying the country.

The NAACP launched an unsuccessful campaign to ban the film.

I guess the NAACP started cancel culture.

“Birth of the Nation” was the first film shown in the White House.  President Woodrow Wilson screened it with his family and members of his Cabinet. Thomas Dixon the author of the “The Clansman,” the book the film was and the screenwriter D.W. Griffith were in attendance. As put by Dixon, a liar, “it repeated the triumph of the first showing.”

Thomas Woodrow Wilson ~ 28th President (1913-1921), unapologetically backed what he called the “great Ku Klux Klan.” His rhetoric inspired red summer in 1919, where white mobs set Black people’s town on fire. He encouraged the Klan’s violent disenfranchisement of Black people in the late 19th century. Wilson’s record as president oversaw the resegregation of multiple federal government agencies where professionally skilled and college-educated Black people worked. Agencies integrated by Radical Reconstruction decades earlier. 

Black people who had attained a dignified life were told if they wanted to keep their government jobs, they would have to work in cages. Then were fired anyway for stealing white men’s job. 

The bourgeoisie uppity Blacks stealing from whites narrative was fueled by fiction. The fiction of the massively popular among whites “Birth of the Nation” and novels like “Gone with the Wind,” which whipped up paranoia. Periodicals like the Southern Opinion and Confederate Veteran funded by wealthy Lost Cause patrons gave editorial “alternative” facts

Fiction was brought to life as fears from the white unimagination manifested into de jure southern policies of the Black Codes and later Jim Crow.

Lynching, in part, began because of the anger by white people of THE FEW Black people doing financially well and dressing nicely. 

“Comparatively well educated [N]egroes are willing, indeed, glad, to take minor clerkships under the government, places which do not appeal to white men of ability for the simple reason that the white man can do better. The consequence is that the most capable of the [N]egroes compete with whites of at best only mediocre ability,” —The Washington Post, June 7, 1908.

Minnie Cox. In 1891 Cox was appointed Postmaster General in Indianola, Mississippi. In 1903 she had to leave because growing white resentment put her life in physical danger. 

Sumptuary laws, de jure and de facto, have often been initiated by white people (white men and white women) against Black women. In Lousiana, the Creole women were forced to cover their beautiful hair because white women were jealous of their husband’s constant raping of them.

NPR published the story of a young Black girl,  Pinky Powell of Lowndes, Alabama, who in 1910 painted her nails red and had a white shopkeeper rip out each nail with pliers as punishment.

 “‘What are you doing with your nails painted up like a white woman?’ He proceeded to pick up a pair of pliers and he pulled out my grandmama’s nails out of its bed one by one.”

In many places, a Black woman NOT working as domestics for a white women was a crime, even if the Black woman’s husband made enough, so it was not necessary for her to work outside the home.

Black anti-voting rules got their gasoline by Black men being elected into state office. During Reconstruction in the late 18th century dozens of Black senators, Black representatives, and several Black lieutenant governors were voted into office.

Racism against Blackness does not require abject poverty to be authentic. And Blackness certainly doesn’t need abject poverty to draw the ire of white supremacists.  

There is no other oppression except antiblackness that requires its recipients to be in abject poverty to be believed, and that is by design. 

Black success, regardless of how minor, even in 2021, is viewed by white supremacists as thievery. Meghan Markle is viewed as a thief by racists. Any Black person who has a car, an expensive bicycle, a nice dress, or a college degree is viewed as a thief by the white supremacist.

And being pretty Black woman, doesn’t carry quite the same currency as being a pretty white woman. Jezebel was thrown out the window and eaten by dogs.

There is nothing radical about joining in with the white “working class” to bash a Black person for what white supremacists call “not knowing their place.” White people’s anger and indifference at Meghan Markle is not about class solidarity. They are having a much newer conversation. I’m 99 percent sure of that. 

Wealthy white supremacists have used the idea of Meghan Markle, the uppity Black person who doesn’t know their place as motivation to employ stochastic terrorism on the ENTIRE Black community for over 100 years. 


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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