Author Topic: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin  (Read 8833 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« on: August 30, 2009, 01:59:31 pm »
I got this email the other day.  I was one of several newspaper article responding to a quote in a recent NEW YORK magazine article about Obamas vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard.  There were several responses attached.  Here’s what I got in the mail: 

First Lady called "ghetto girl" by Martha Vineyard's black elite

Joni L. Reynolds <> | Posted June 25, 2009 11= :09 AM

 . "Many blacks from Oak Bluffs are elated that the Only One- in-Chief may be joining them. "People are going to lose their minds!" Tonya Lewis Lee says.
At the same time, there's also a bit of wariness among the wealthiest ones, an uncertainty whether Obama will affirm them.  "Obama is more a man of the people," says a Vineyarder who's part of black high society.  "He doesn't seem to identify with affluent black people.  His wife definitely doesn't; she is basically a ghetto girl.  That's what she says--I'm just being sociological. She grew up in the same place Jennifer Hudson did.  She hasn't reached out to the social community of Washington, and people are waiting to see what they'll do about that." (New Yorker Magazine)
 To call a Harvard lawyer a "ghetto girl" is absolutely ludicrous.
The dynamics of black society is very difficult to understand. We are probably the only race that has prejudices against other members of our own race. This anonymous member of the black elite simply said was what is said among her group.
If Mrs. Obama were light-skinned with hazel eyes maybe she might be a little more tolerable, even though she was raised on the wrong side of the track.
Joni L. Reynolds, an African-American mother, writes a blog called Ebony Mom Politics <> .
2009-06-25 11:32:49

It was followed by this response:

This is a really interesting piece.  I am a historian and I study class, in particular classism within the black community.  It is my belief that the black elite are a very insecure group of people.  They are caught in between two worlds, the white world, which rejects them, and the black middle and working class, which they can't relate to.  They are in so many ways a tragic group of people with no real community to call their own.  E. Franklin Frazier's "The Black Bourgeoisie" explains it better than I can.  And Lawrence Otis Graham's "Our Kind of People" is a revealing book that really speaks to this insecurity. I would recommend them both as good reads.  The Obamas, secure and comfortable with themselves, don't need to be ass ociated with the black elite.  They have nothing in common with them.  They are not out to prove anything to anybody. They are not trying to be white, nor are they embarrassed by their middle and working class brethren.  They are who they are, take it or leave it.  And they certainly are not tragic.  So I guess that would mean, yes, Barack is "a man for the people" and in my opinion this is a good thing.  Because if he was in bed with the black elite, how then would he be any different than GWB, who was in bed with the Texas elite?  In regards to the comment about Michelle being a "ghetto girl" again this is a clear indication of how insecure and fragile the black elite is..  This is merely testimony to how threatened they are by her.  That this common woman form "the hood" is their first lady. That most likely if a black elite family had put in their bid for the white house (which I don't think they aspire to anyway), they would h ave not even made it past the Iowa Caucasus.  And here is this "common man" with his "ghetto" wife who is not only accepted and loved by "the masses" but also accepted by the white community as well.  A feat the black elite will NEVER master! It is pure jealousy and quit e fascinating.  Sad too.

Forwarded: Anne Walker

When I read the last part response, I was so pissed out I had to write my own response to what was said:

I don’t understand this response at all. 

Why is the guy who says he is a historian talking in these broad and sloppy terms about the black elite?  What does he think he is?  Not a member of the black elite? 

What defines the black elite?  Is it money?  Education?  Social position?  Are Oprah Winfey, Shelby Steele and Allen Iverson all members of the black elite?   Because those are three very different people by some measures, all similar in others.

And why are people taking one comment by one ignorant hater and applying it broadly across a whole group of black people? 

In my own experience, I found Obama support among “black elites” during the campaign to be split along generational lines.  Folks old enough to have a close relationship with the Clintons remained loyal to them.  Folks Barack’s age and younger were all about Barack.  He was one of “them” – a black elite, that is. 

There was a time when the black community celebrated the idea of an elite.  I don’t get how folks can long for the heady days of the Harlem Renaissance then turn around get start sucking teeth and rolling necks at successful black businessmen and women, educators and artists.  You can’t celebrate and promote excellence and simultaneously put down people for being too rich and/or too smart.  Neither intelligence or wealth makes you a good person, but if a person is a jerk, just call them a jerk.  Assholinity (yes, I made it up) is not restricted by class, color, income bracket or region.

For way too long people jump into easy clichés about house negroes and field negroes, without ever acknowledging that there are now several generations that have grown up reading and discussing these issues.  Not the mention the paradigm-changing power of hip hop, which had a profound economic, sociological and aesthetic affect on the community not reflected in 40 year old texts. 

Of course, those kinds of observation would require actually knowing what you’re talking about.

Offline jefferson L.O.B. sergeant

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Re: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 04:48:14 pm »
This is a difficult subject for me to accurately quantify.

My impression of The Black Elite is represented in the vestiges of those pictures you see from the late 19th and early 20th century of the Black middle class. Predominately, almost exclusively, light-skinned, accepted by Whites with a disconnect to the larger class of Blacks.

I think its this backdrop that ultimately defines the image of the Black elite that we have today. The argument was first and probably best stated between Dubois and Garvey, including the reality of light-skin privelege.

To use your examples.

Oprah Winfrey- Oprah is a Black woman that almost achieved sainthood in this country (before she supported Obama that is) and her status is still in question. I mean no insult by this; but the mammy paradigm that someone came up with to describe her initial success has some credence.

Allen Iverson- Hood elite but not Black elite. The Tattoos, braids(formerly) and entourage disqualified him off the bat. Iverson would qualify as the new Black elite actually. He is the antithesis of what the Black elite is supposed to be.

Shelby Steele- This guy fits the old Black elite paradigm to a T.


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Re: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2009, 05:24:10 pm »
I'm not sure where I stand personally on this.

I grew up in a Cosby Show/Brady Bunch type of suburb of Chicago with a Jack and Jill girlfriend.

I was once associated with the beanpie black militant crowd and have family and friends in Reverend Wright's church.

I am a huge Star Wars fan and openly read comics as a grown man right in front of people without flinching.

I am a mixed martial artist who believes in the Frank Castle style of justice for those who have it coming.

Technically... I am a Christian who only goes to church when my wife makes me.

I am also a TROLL on the internet!

I am a living breathing convoluted being.

But no matter where I am I always adapt to a given circumstance no matter who or what. Dinner fork is on your right... or left... or... just eat!

This black elite or upper class means nothing to me unless someone desires to branch out and go full blown Steven Spielberg and create an independent black movie making machine.

Many black people can talk or claim whatever they wish but my attention span is for those who enter a room like Heath Ledger's Joker and shake things up from the mundane.

You can call me what you like... bourgeois... militant... fanbro... nutcase... but if you are not planning to make all the gold in Fort Knox radioactive or constructing your own Death Star to blow up the earth then chances are you are putting me to sleep with the your small time worldy views.

Darth Vader: "Search your feelings black folks... you know this to be true!"

Luke "Skywalker" Cage: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo!"

Offline supreme illuminati

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Re: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2009, 05:35:44 pm »
Hmmm. This is veeeery interesting. I am feeling both of these posts,and "assholinity" is madd funny! Lolol.

However,before we get into a rough and tumble about the Black Elite...we should at least try to define it. This Overclass...or whatever sobriquet you want for it. And maybe we can pinpoint and extrapolate from various generational changes within this class. Maybe we have the Dubois,Marcus Garvey,Booker T,Shelby Steele,RH,Cornel West,Beyonce,Jay-Z,and Lil Wayne,50 Cent and Money May strains of this elite. Mattafact,we can coelesce these groups into time periods and groups. 1920-1959,1960-1984,1985-1995,1996-present. There would be the rich athletes,entertainers,politicians,academics,criminals,inventors and church leaders of each generation. Might be interesting to note the numbers of each and when and why they proliferate,what were their inclinations and what were the impact of their actions.

Then we can move forward more definitively because we have a working hypothesis based on reliable scholarship and data acquires thru solid research.
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Offline bluezulu

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Re: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2009, 07:21:00 am »
Im working too hard and struggling trying to get mine to care about the infighting between the haves and the have mores. I don't know, maybe im irritable half way through with this MBA and all of the ROE& ROI formulas are getting to me.

Offline Cheirel

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Re: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2009, 03:18:21 pm »
Black Elite is you gotta love the term. Historically most of  would have passed the paper bag test. Now 95% will. Our First Lady thought of as still a hood rat because of where she grew up. While her hubby who we knew drinking and drugging has overcome and that is now part of his past because of the people he now knows.

I don't think we even know who we consider ourselves as Black Elite. It can't just be money so much for Iverson and upperscale drug dealers. What about some of these comedians OMG some of the most depressing people in the world no class so does that rule them out also?

Oprah has enough money to buy herself a new image if need be and will be smart and separate herself from almost the world to stay on top. MJ's funeral did she even send a dime store sympathy card?Remember interview helped greatly w/ your show. All about her image. But by many she will always be considered Elite, Black or otherwise.

In L.A. it's all about the image I've seen people without a place to lay their heads but they must drive a Mercerdes or BMW. That doesn't make you elite just stupid. Sometimes people think it's going to the "it" party but for which industry? music, film, intellectual or to be able to get in to all of the above? It's never easy.

Maybe you need to be on the Forbes list.

At the very least you need to be able to interact in a multitude of social situations. Know which fork to use even if it's on top of your plate. If you grew up in the hood, that was then,and this is now and where I live damnit may well be 1600 Pennsylvania. Name calling is easy.

Offline jefferson L.O.B. sergeant

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Re: BLACK ELITE by Reginald Hudlin
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2009, 11:26:40 pm »
Ahh, Ms. Baldwin Hills trying to mix in with the common folk.