More

Yes, wealthy black Americans experience racism and get to protest. Here's why.

We shouldn't even have to talk about this, but here we are.

Yes, wealthy black Americans experience racism and get to protest. Here's why.
Colin Kaepernick last played for the San Francisco 49ers. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images.

Colin Kaepernick, still unemployed and blacklisted by the NFL, has received a range of critiques from sports pundits, Twitter users, and the NFL audience for using his platform as a famous athlete to speak out against police brutality.

There is a problematic line of thought that continues to resurface in these conversations: Black Americans who are wealthy or noted intellects — so-called "privileged" black Americans — have no business talking about the reality of race.

It's a familiar critique. When Beyoncé used her Super Bowl 50 performance to pay homage to the Black Panthers, critics went wild. Not only did they inaccurately equate the Black Panthers to a terrorist group, they couldn’t fathom how a wealthy black woman could feel the need, much less have the desire, to comment on racist practices through art.  


Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Often criticized for not speaking more directly about race, President Barack Obama also faced an insurmountable amount of racist attacks and vitriol in office. Yet, when he did speak on fraught relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve, pundits lashed out him for "dividing the nation."

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The idea that a black person gaining privilege means they then relinquish First Amendment rights is a racist, dangerous fallacy. And it's about as un-American as it gets.  

Acquiring wealth, becoming educated, or reaching a higher societal class should not require black people to abdicate their right to speak about their experiences and to speak for disenfranchised communities.  

Conflating prosperity with freedom is not only false, it indicates that laws that give Americans freedom of speech — and the right to protest — only apply to certain groups. When we do that, we invoke classism, racism, and silence marginalized voices. Black people from all groups — wealthy or poor, famous or unknown, young or senior — have all been criticized at various points in history for speaking on injustice and black experiences. Perhaps it’s not the status that bothers these pundits, but rather the skin tone of those speaking out and their audacity to do so unapologetically.  

The nation’s history with attacking privileged advocates for justice is lengthy.

Booker T. Washington, a black scholar and leader, spent his life fighting racism and injustice and working to change a lynch-hungry South. He died with more than $1.5 million in his estate and used his finances to fight inequality and increase educational opportunities for black America. Madam C.J. Walker became more vocal about race and injustice as her wealth grew and she raised money for organizations like the YMCA and the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaign. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most educated, well-known leaders of our time, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a globally known pastor, and was assassinated at 39. Oprah, one of the wealthiest women in recent history, wasn’t able to buy a handbag in Switzerland because the shop owner thought she couldn’t afford it. Despite this experience and others like it, she has worked tirelessly to amplify the work of black film directors, writers, and artists.  

Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images.

Upper-class black Americans experience racism and inequality regularly.

Their privilege does not eliminate that experience. In using their platforms, well-known voices have the power to do meaningful acts in struggling communities and to be role models for young activists, writers, and thinkers.  

By allowing black leaders to be human and to speak out against injustice, we make space for people who regularly experience racist practices and injustices and may not have the funds to create an organization or the access to education usually required to hold office. We give a voice to the women who were sexually assaulted or raped by a police officer and weren’t believed until years later. We give a voice and value to the professor stopped on the way home for being a black male in the "wrong" neighborhood. We give a voice and value to the countless number of black teens followed around in stores in malls because they’re immediately seen as threats or as humans that need to be disciplined because of their skin.

Black people have a right to practice their American freedoms. It's time America listens to them.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less