Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Loving Our Flesh Hard: On Rejecting Deficit Perspectives

After I wrote about Rachel Jeantel, I ran out of steam to write about the Zimmerman case.  I watched and listened, but I just didn't have the energy to blog about it.  However, what I would like to talk about is giving up deficit perspectives and learning how to love ourselves.

She's about to preach and teach in a moment.  Just keep reading.
Learning to resist negative stereotypes about Black people is hard, even for Black people. Everytime I think about the negative rhetoric that is permeating the news cycle, I think back to the movie (and Toni Morrison classic) Beloved and Baby Suggs Holly's sermon about self love in the face of deficit perspectives. Her sermon starts around 1:45. She could be talking to us right now in 2013.

We are flesh! 
Flesh that weeps, laughs, dances barefoot in the grass.
Love your flesh. Love it HARD!
Love your hands. Raise them up and kiss them. 
And the beat, beat, beat of your heart. 
Love your heart! 
This is the prize! 
This is the prize. 

I just had a Holy Ghost moment.  This clip gets me every time.

Now that the verdict has been given, and I've had a moment to do some reflecting, I don't want to talk about the case or the verdict, per se.  However, I do want to talk about some of the things that have been floating around in my head as I watch news reporters and pundits. If I read one more d@mn admonishment from Black and non-Black people about Black-on-Black crime in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict, I'm going to scream.  The admonishments are red herrings. Here are a couple of reasons why I am annoyed:

  1. The argument promotes stereotyping.  It also does serious injustice to the multitude of hard-working, law abiding citizens who work hard and want change in their communities, too.  Trust me, there are more people doing the right thing than those who are committing crimes.  Perhaps the people doing good work in these communities just don't get as much publicity. 
  2. This argument does not negate the fact that the sentencing procedures, rules, etc. are unjustly applied to people of color. 
  3. It also doesn't encourage society to see Black children as American children.  If they did, young Black people committing violent acts toward each other would be of utmost importance to our collective society and not a dehumanizing spectacle about "those people" on the news. 
  4. It doesn't force people to look at some of the root causes of crime in impoverished communities of color.  Where you find this type of violence, you also find joblessness and idleness, and as the saying goes: "Idle time is the devil's playground." And since when did those who are jobless and impoverished gain the capital to create jobs and generate substantial economic development?  Until then, you can't shoulder all of the burden on the community. 

I believe that all of this Black-on-Black crime rhetoric is based on a deficit perspective that society (including some Black folks) has about Black people.  A deficit perspective blames the victims of institutional oppression for their own victimization by referring to negative stereotypes and assumptions regarding certain groups or communities.

So I need folks to miss me with Romany Malco and Bill Cosby rhetoric.  I'M NOT HERE FOR IT.  Go find the links, I refuse to post them.  Does change need to happen? Yes.  Should Black people work toward change in their communities? Yes, but I'd also argue that many of them do; there's also a need for systemic change. Does it change the fact that the Zimmerman verdict was unjust?  No. Absolutely hell, f*cking no. Before we start jumping onto popular bandwagons, we HAVE to think critically.  This Black-on-Black crime rhetoric is an easy argument that is being used to skirt an important issue - inequality in the judicial system.

What I am here for is this:

"We are here to see what happens when an immovable object meets 
an un-seemingly immovable object."

I get goose bumps everytime I watch this. Now this is loving your flesh really hard.  They are taking action and making change. This is self-love and community consciousness. I'm re-energized watching this.  I'm thinking really hard about how I can do more to make change.

Until next time . . . love your flesh and love it hard!


  1. Completely agree! The whole argument of black on black crime is so ignorant! Why that even had to be brought up during the trial was for a way for people to overshadow what the real issue is.

    Yes, there's a place for that but it wasn't for this case. And for people to bring it up as though that was the issue was a slap in the face.

    1. Faith!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my little ole blog!

      The trial and the accompanying news cycle has had my heart heavy for weeks. I love to write about love and marriage and music, but gosh, my mind has been filled with so many thoughts about everything that's been transpiring. I'm done blogging about the Martin/Zimmerman trial (I think), but I've been finding myself wondering what more I can do to make a positive impact on the world.

      Don't be a stranger!

  2. wow! This is wonderful! I will be sharing with others!

  3. I completely agree... people are comparing apples and oranges to deflect from difficult reality. Yes we have our first black Persian President and racism still exists. The most interesting thing of all about this rhetoric is that crime statistics for same race on race is high is every community.