Sometimes Black folks are so hard on Black folks.
To much attention and fanfare, actor Romany Malco published an article last week in Huff Post outlining his take on the Trayvon Martin case. In a crisp and spirited litany, Malco aligned himself with the chorus of folks who have decided that the Trayvon Martin case is not just an issue of racism, but really about the failure of the Black community to take responsibility for our communities, the images of ourselves we give economic support to, and how we educate ourselves. Malco writes:
I believe we lost that trial for Trayvon long before he was killed. Trayvon was doomed the moment ignorance became synonymous with young black America . We lost that case by using media outlets (music, movies, social media, etc.) as vehicles to perpetuate the same negative images and social issues that destroyed the black community in the first place. When we went on record glorifying violent crime and when we voted for a president we never thought to hold accountable. When we signed on to do reality shows that fed into the media’s stereotypes of black men, we ingrained an image of Trayvon Martin so overwhelming that who he actually may have been didn’t matter anymore.
Though his statement appears powerful, it actually was nothing new. In short, Malco reiterates a conversation we’ve all heard before at the dinner table. It is often launched at Black youth in particular. Mistakenly, it’s a position even I used to believe. Namely this idea that instead of hollering racism, it’s up to Black people to get ourselves together. It’s essentially Black on Black shaming, and it’s not necessarily “wrong,” it’s just intellectually lazy, relies on myths of Black deficiency, and ignores the necessary context of how racism has operated and continues to operate in this country.