One of the messages that I see often from young black feminists and black men is "f*** respectability." I guess they figure if they shout this mantra from the hilltops enough times without being challenged it will suddenly be true.
Well guess what? Respectability is a real thing in real life and it can open (or close) a lot of doors for you. It can even save your life. This is said by someone who has been there, done that -- not just preaching and signifying on social media. We're talking about real life issues.
Do you think you'll get that job or small business loan if the decision maker finds a video of you twerking or acting up on social media? Likely not.
Do you think that the young woman who was kidnapped off the street in a Philadelphia would have had the amount of public support to eventually lead to her recovery that she did if she was a stripper instead of a nursing assistant? Nope.
Do you think MLK and Malcolm would have been taken seriously by the President and their own followers if they came to work every day in wife beaters and shorts? Nope.
Sometimes respectability doesn't matter one bit -- when Dr. Henry Louis Gates was harassed by the police for being in his own house, I'm sure he was wearing a very nice ensemble from work and speaking like a professor. But sometimes respectability does matter -- a whole lot. I think that unfortunately a lot of people who think it doesn't ever matter are going to have some very hard lessons to learn 5,10 or 20 years into the future when they're trying to establish themselves.
If you'll notice, the people who most often preach about respectability politics are almost always fully dressed in suits or business attire. They aren't fully in touch with how people stuck in poverty and struggle are affected in this society when they maintain a cavalier "F--- everybody" attitude about life.
"Respectability" is more about respecting yourself than anything. Is that too much to ask?
Posted by CBLady