I was on Larry Elder’s twitter to prepare for this post (believe me, I don’t go looking for Larry Elder quotes) and noticed his reply to one of the comments made about him: ‘What’s the difference, between calling a white guy a “nigger lover” vs. calling a black an “Uncle Tom”–as you’ve just done to me?’ I’ve heard lots about Elder over the years; his ultra conservative perspective and sometimes, seemingly anti-black sentiment is tough to sit through, especially when he’s spouting his ideology in front of a white viewership. I used to think he was an Uncle Tom until I realized how much that played into the stifling mainstream perception of black people as monolith.
Folks (of all ethnic backgrounds) get away with calling out black people for not being ‘black enough’. This kind of shaming is still acceptable because we still intrinsically believe there are certain things that all black people do and say, after all, that is a form of solidarity, no? NO! It’s actually called groupthink. The past couple of months, I’ve seen the ‘blackness’ of popular Twitter targets, Don Lemon and Raven Symone, called into question. When Stacey Dash endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, the b(l)acklash was fierce and furious (and foolish).
There’s something unsavory about the pass we give shaming African Americans whose opinions are on different ends of spectrum. The silent endorsement shores up the idea that only certain kinds of public expression of black thought are acceptable, forcing fresh perspectives out of the spotlight and reinforcing the status quo.