Friday, October 22, 2010
Some Black People Are Not Ready to Have Nice Things: Introducing Baracka Flacka Flames--Head of State
I am stupified. Double facepalmed. Struck dumb.
As the old saying goes, you can't polish a turd. Stated differently, satire is perhaps the hardest of genres with which to work. The shear amateurishness of the Baracka Flacka Flames "Head of State" video is revealed by the fact that the basis of the "joke," the neo-minstrel crooning of Southern race minstrel Waka Flocka Flame (and others of his ilk), is itself already a parody of what hip hop could and ought to be. Thus, the potential for creative genius is already compromised from the onset, as how does one satirize what is already satire (be it intentional or otherwise) poorly done?
As a child I recall watching television with my mother. That day a public service announcement implored viewers to adopt a foster child. In said appeal, one of the children proudly announced that if he had a family and his own room that he would draw rainbows all over the walls. I said to my mom, "wow, that is so touching." Mom looked at me and said, "No, it is sad. That child has never had anything nice in his life and the first thing he wants to do when he finally gets a room is to ruin it. Sometimes you can't give people nice things who aren't ready for them."
Years later I would see the wisdom of my mother's words in the once nice neighborhoods ruined by Section 8, suburbanized public housing, and absentee landlords. The weight of her words is also made clear when the first signs of scattered site housing and a "neighborhood in transition" inevitably appear--the litter on the ground, people sitting five deep on porches when a perfectly nice backyard is available, overflowing, naked garbage cans left curbside, corner boys, gang tags, and broken cars in various states of disrepair now parked on residential lawns.
While sociologists and others talk about social capital, social disorganization, and the merits of value neutral approaches to the different "cultural norms" that govern the use of public space, I simply fall back on my mother's wisdom: Sometimes folks just aren't ready to have nice things. And ultimately it is a crime to give them nice things before they are ready.
The Baracka Flacka Flames video is simply more proof of that self-evident truth. The Baracka Flacka Flames video is also proof of an instinct I have long held dear and (usually) kept private to myself: white supremacy is the greatest invention of all time, not because of its durability per se, but rather because of how the subject internalizes it, reproducing the conditions of their own self-hatred and subordination.
I am unafraid to speak to the obligations of black respectability. Sadly, while some of us are ready for the responsibility of having our first Black President, others have clearly demonstrated that they are not. How pitiable and tragic that some confuse a poverty of material circumstances with a poverty of self-respect and black pride.