The New York Post’s recent political satire can be added to a long list of offenses that has provoked the African American community’s ire over the years. Our collective memories evoke the Don Imus controversy, The Jena Six, harsh statements from Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’ Reilly, and court cases featuring Michael Vick, Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson, and R. Kelley. The other political satire freshest on the minds of the African American community is probably the New Yorker’s magazine cover which depicted Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, as terrorists. These incidents, along with numerous others, have touched that revolutionary nerve within all African Americans which inspires boycotts, marches, protests, and songs of triumph.
Yet, in these cases a critical paradox emerges. The African American community tends to rebuke attacks from outsiders, but will defend its own shortcomings, often detrimentally. For example, the Rodney King beating is still talked about with disdain among African Americans while the beating of Rihanna at the hands of Chris Brown is met with complacency and even condoned by some African American men. One may even ask how African Americans can be outraged at the assumed reference to President Barack Obama as a monkey when it is acceptable for African American women to be blatantly referred to as [female dogs] in Hip Hop music.
This double standard is a defense mechanism, fashioned out of centuries of dehumanization, intended to protect African Americans from being oppressed by outside influences. However, this defense mechanism contributes to the dehumanization of African Americans and causes the culture to be self-oppressed.
In conclusion, it is important for the African American community to stand up against racist assaults, but it is most important that the community be purged of degrading influences rooted within it.
I think Jesus Christ said it best when he proclaimed, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come from within are what defile.” (Mk 7:15)