Letter: Black celebrities are the Uncle Toms of today

To the Editor,

Malcolm X railed against the “Uncle Tom” 50 years ago that he and others described as a byproduct of centuries of enslavement, colonization and destruction of the history of African-Americans and people of color by “western so-called civilization.” It is reflected today in a modern day homogenization of thinking that rears itself especially with celebrities of color.

Whether you are speaking about Jay-Z and his lack of criticism regarding blatant acts of racial profiling by Barney’s, or the ingratiating views of Charles Barkley, Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell and others as far as diminishing and not acknowledging the significance of race in the murder of Trayvon Martin, black celebrities have become another tool that legitimizes the many injustices in this society, and, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said “those who are conspicuously silent to an injustice aid and abet that injustice.”

We see it today with black Republicans and so-called Fox News pundits that live here in Westchester; when it comes to racism and heinous bias crimes and savage inequality, they blame those who are the victims and not the perpetrators of these acts. They indeed become a part of the groupthink, homogenized way of thinking of many whites.

The minstrel shows of Herman Cain and Alan West are flagrant examples of this. They are “black white” people.

This has become the case with black talk show hosts, actors, rappers, football players, basketball players and people of color in general. An exception is football commentator Shannon Sharpe who, in response to the allegations of racism within the Miami Dolphins locker room, came out very forcefully against this type of behavior if indeed this was the case. Mr. Sharpe showed real character in saying that and did not care about the consequences. Unfortunately, more often than not these celebrities have an allegiance to their multi-million dollar asset base and the general “white society” and try not to, in essence, “rock the boat.” You will hear it from talk show hosts that claim they are doing “God’s work,” and will inevitably say “God is good” regardless of how depraved, violent and chaotic things are in this society, especially to poor people and black and Latino people in general.

As Malcolm X said “if you are around your oppressor long enough, you become like him.”

 

Clifford Jackson,
Larchmont