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Monday

Elitist Blacks Have Held Black Folks Back More than They Know

The brown cardboard box was set up long ago and inside it were numerous talented blacks that were told to behave in ways that would not give white men and women anything to talk about.  In American history, the majority of blacks had a limit on what jobs they could take (and in some communities that is still true to this day).

Blacks were warned by elders not to take on any positions that would shame their educated kinfolk and to make their ignorant relatives proud.  Many of us were instructed by grandparents that all that "shuckin and jivin" was prohibited.  "Sit down somewhere, cut out all that dancin', pick up a book," I recall my grandmother commanding me.

 
I was told many times that rich white folks and successful blacks like Oprah knew best.  They were in the industries that most of us could only dream of getting into, because we didn't have "connections." I heard often, "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

So here I was told over and over during childhood to "stay in the lines" as I colored in coloring books.  I was scolded for acting "simple" and I was threatened about getting my you know what beat if I acted like I was going to do anything to cause a white person to look down at my family or black folks in general.  "You know what to do, when we go into this store, you better not act like..."  The stereotypical names of blacks were endless borrowed from racist whites with a black dialect twist on them.  I won't even bother to repeat them here.  Some of you remember the drill especially if you were born in the 1950s and 60s or had parents born during that time.  You probably even showed your behind a few too many times in public and Mama or Daddy had something for you in the store or at home and it wasn't good.

As I read more and more about black history particularly when it comes to the entertainment industry, I understand why professional black actors, actresses, musicians, and others were adamant about the way blacks were and still are portrayed on TV and elsewhere.  Many elders are strict to this day about any thing that looks a little bit like "coonery."  But I have to admit that all the rules, regulations, warnings and more, keep plenty of blacks in a box while everyone else get opportunities without all the stress that comes with accepting certain roles.  Professionals can be like strict parents who never let children go out of the house and then when the time comes for them to spread their wings, the rebellious go buckwild!  If one is so concerned about white folks, well breaking news, they are still going to talk about your black self and if you don't look attractive, they really are going to talk--what else is new? People around the world will have their share of racist comments on and off the Internet whether you are doing something stereotypical or not.

I realize that there is a certain degree of control that needs to be demonstrated within various social groups so that people don't get out of hand in any industry (not just entertainment), but does it have to be to the point that elitist African Americans (notice I didn't say blacks) have to take care of their own by any means necessary?  Could it be that the crabs in the barrel mentality has long been encouraged within a group who is supposed to be the watch dogs for others?  Maybe some elders are a tad-bit jealous of younger members knowing their time is expiring; therefore, they nitpick about any and everything causing divisiveness among the groups?  Are elitist elder and younger African Americans starting to turn on one another and rebel in more ways than one?  Is something breaking within the constructs of secret wealthy organizations run by paranoid African Americans so worried that every move out of the box thinkers come up with might cause the race to lose decades of progress?  This has long been an issue between the favored and not-so favored just breaking into industries all across our nation.

I personally believe that all the fear is clearly unnecessary nowadays.  People are going to work with those who are open, honest and true to almost any craft they can add to or conjure up just so long as it makes money.  The public isn't the least bit concerned about how one or many individuals portray blacks just so long as it is done in a way that makes sense for them and handled with care.  However, some would have you believe that the sky is falling over everything you say or do related to black.

The public sees tomfoolery everyday on the bus, driving in cars, seated in parks, walking down the street in packs, and even within our own families--so what is new?  The deaf, dumb, blind, foolish, prostitute, pimp, hustler, maid, driver and ghetto don't represent me or anyone else I know they are in categories all by themselves.

So for those who like to worry much about image; instead of doing that I have an idea, how about you put more effort into giving a wider no-name audience of talent and skill a break?  The truth of the matter is we are tired of seeing elitists keeping all the opportunities within their families as if we don't know that many of you are somehow related to one another!

Nicholl McGuire is the self-published author of many nonfiction books, an inspirational speaker, a wife and mother of four sons who lives in California.  She manages many blogs and other sites around the web.  Her dream was once to sing, dance, and act but her father told her, "That is not an attainable goal...There's enough blacks singing, dancing and acting.  Do something else."

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