So a Black boy needs to be an angel in order to not be deserving of death? Is this the conclusion of the New York Times article?
This relates to the ludicrous nature of respectability politics.
In a way, respectability politics doesn’t really exist. I say that in the sense that it isn’t possible for a Black person to ever be worthy and valuable within a white supremacist context. This is abundantly true if an apparently reputable publication is using facts that are true of many American teenagers to paint Mike Brown as somebody deserving of being executed.
But even the New York Times article stepped around its true conclusion. It isn’t that Mike Brown deserved to die because he wasn’t perfect. He didn’t deserve to die because he got into “at least one scuffle” or because he had tried marijuana or because he wasn’t constantly on the honor roll. He deserved to die because he’s Black. According to white supremacist discourse every Black person deserves to die.
Fundamentally, the idea that being respectable will save you is dangled over Black people’s head. But it’s a false promise. Respectability politics is an ideology that Black people use to police ourselves — to limit ourselves. And to what gain?
There is no such thing as being a respectable Black person outside of the Black community. Everything that makes us respectable in our own eyes is dismissed in the larger world.
To be Black is to be un-respectable.
At the end of the day if our humanity can be parsed by not getting good grades or experimenting with drugs then we were never accorded humanity to begin with."