Many writers have commented on the trend of wealthy Black people denying the importance of racism. And how it makes sense for them in some small and selfish sense because they’ve “made it.” Often due to tokenization and always on the backs of the remainder of their community. But they have made it regardless.
However, wealthy and famous Black folks aren’t the only ones who hold bootstrap ideology close to their hearts. These are regularly held conversations by very regular and normal non-rich Black people. And it’s easy to say that they’re silly and the “New Black” idea and others like it have no use for them since unlike Pharrell they can’t buy themselves out of any facet of racism. But there has to be a reason why bootstrap ideology has been a persistent line of thinking for Black people all throughout American history.
We like to believe we have more power than we actually do.
It is dis-empowering to admit that racism impacts us. It is dis-empowering to admit that we are limited by white supremacy. That our life chances are constricted by the pervasiveness of racism. And that we can be the hardest working person who does everything correctly and systematically and still face barriers.
We can have the best resume and still not get the job. We can dress in a suit or dress and still be deemed not professional enough. We can jump through every hoop and still be dehumanized and treated as a second class citizen.
This realization leads to a sort of heart-brokenness that many Black folks are not willing to face. The Pharrell’s of the world are certainly not ready. But neither are Black folks in the trenches. Those Black people who are not wealthy or famous. It’s not that any of us truly believe in the existence of a meritocracy since our first hand experiences teach us differently from birth. It is the fact that we can hardly afford not to believe.
We are afraid that it will be paralyzing to lose all of our belief in a meritocracy, to fully understand the consequences of white supremacy. This is the fundamental fear that drives “New Black.”
an excerpt from “The Allure of Pharrell’s “New Black” But Why It’s Dangerous" @ One Black Girl. Many Words