Humbleness, Humility, and Their Racial Connotations

I have issues with people’s obsession with humbleness and humility. Nine times out of ten people only talk about those traits when discussing PoC & even then what they really mean is something different. What people really mean is they want you to be submissive and self deprecating to the point of developing self esteem issues.

I also know damn well I’m not the only one who’s noticed that those terms only seem to come out as insults when talking about confident PoC.

When Beyoncé made Bow Down, how many people came out the woodwork to say they though she was “arrogant”?

How many people say the same thing of Nicki Minaj? Folks say she’s “full of herself” and they want to “take her down a notch” all the time.

How many discussions center around the fact that people hate rappers bragging about what they have while ignoring context for why they are?

How many people straight up hate Kanye without even taking the time to really look at his actions or look at his backstory?

People talk shit about Rihanna day in and day out about how they hate her cockiness.

On the flip side of that, how many people (some of the same people) praise white celebrities for their confidence? It’s been talked about before, but look at how obsessed people are with Robert Downey Jr. There’s a whole meme on tumblr about how people can’t tell the difference between Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark and people fucking love it. I’m being dead ass serious when I say I’ve never seen anyone, especially anyone in the media, say that Robert Downey Jr.  needs to be more “humble.”

Why is cockiness acceptable from Robert Downey Jr. but not from Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kanye, Rihanna, or any rapper ever? That question is largely rhetorical because I’m sure we all know the answer to that.

I’m not gonna make any friends saying this, but I really feel like it’s a subconscious form of racism. It’s so subtle that I see that type of speech/thought coming from PoC (Black people in particular) just as much as white folks.

This is one of those times where I’m kinda left questioning myself. I’ve seen it so many times though that I’ve detected a definite pattern and I’m pretty damn sure I’m right.

UPDATE: 9/28/2013

Based on the reaction I got for making this simple observation, I’m now 100% positive I’m right. I had Black men in my mentions telling me I should be more concerned about Black men choosing to date white women or claiming that I was “defending Jay-Z’s white gaze.” Along with that kind of nonsense though, I got a flood of people telling me that they’ve noticed the same thing. The very strong reactions from people on both sides of this issue tells me that there is definitely something here. If we’re gonna make any process on the anti-racist front, this is definitely a topic worth exploring in depth.

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One response to “Humbleness, Humility, and Their Racial Connotations

  1. I have noticed how non-Black people view confident Black people. We’re seen as “uppity” and they feel the need to put us “in our place.”

    Did you see the way people reacted when Quvenzhane Wallis’ (I hope I spelled her name properly) Annie deal was made public? It’s the biggest deal a child actress has ever gotten. This white lady called TMZ and said little Ms. Wallis “didn’t need all that money.” I bet she never said that about white child stars who made millions. Other people were upset as well. I feel this ties into people thinking we need to stay in our so-called place or to put it more PC, stay humble.

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