Acton Institute Powerblog

Blacks as Mascots of Progressivism

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Untitled 2There are times when you have to imagine that black justice pioneers like Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and the like, must be turning in their graves at the nonsense circumstances that black Americans find themselves in in 2013.

For example, MTV’s Video Music Awards promoted, yet again, the race-driven stereotype of black women as sexualized jezebels. The Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University explains the history of the jezebel stereotype:

The portrayal of black women as lascivious by nature is an enduring stereotype. The descriptive words associated with this stereotype are singular in their focus: seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd. Historically, white women, as a category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty – even sexual purity, but black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory. This depiction of black women is signified by the name Jezebel.

While Myley Cyrus, 23, eviscerated her dignity and mocked the values of the family that nurtured her, she used black women’s bodies as sex props while she simulated lewd acts on stage with 36-year-old, married recording artist Robin Thicke. Only black feminists had the courage to connect the Cyrus episode to the historic subjugation of black women by elitist white women. Did Harriet Tubman risk her life to free slaves so that Myley Cyrus could use black women as sex props? Additionally, those black women were also complicit in participating with Cyrus in their being dehumanized and used as mascots.

If the jezebel stereotype on display on MTV isn’t enough to make a case for cultural regression, all over America, a group of progressive elites seem to have successfully convinced mainly black and Latino workers that they should be able to sustain a life and career working as adults in low-skilled jobs at fast-food restaurants serving the type of food that contributes to the epidemic rates of hypertension, obesity, and Type-II diabetes in their own communities.

To make matters worse, even black pastors have been duped and hoodwinked into adopting the progressivist dispersal of the economic commonsense that understands a wage to be “the price of labor.” Here’s what this means: working at fast-food restaurants and selling food and drinks saturated with high-fructose corn syrup is simply not worth $15/hour. Low-skilled jobs generally have lower wages. These protests have no economic basis. So why in the world would the Rev. W.J. Rideout III of Detroit’s All God’s People Church, in protesting low wages at fast food restaurants, say something as economically unsound as this: “The bottom line is we are doing this to let the corporations know we want $15 an hour, better working conditions — and we want to be treated fairly.” The only explanation is that many blacks have sold out to progressivism rather than remaining committed to the principles of economic empowerment that freed blacks from thinking that low-skilled labor was the best they could do.

Instead of protesting fast food restaurants, black pastors, like Rideout, would better serve the black community by protesting to people in their communities to do whatever is necessary to acquire marketable skills so that they can leave fast food jobs behind in our global marketplace and make themselves more competitive. This way, they can hold the types of jobs that actually sustain a family.

In viewing nearly all of the newspaper and television footage of the fast-food protests, you have to wonder if anyone noticed that Asian-Americans were no where to be found? Why were Asian-American women not being used a sexualized props for white women at MTV? Why is that? Perhaps it is because research suggests that many Asian-Americans tend to “protest” against dehumanization and being used as pawns of social-engineering elites by getting married, investing in their children’s education, learning skills that make them more valuable and competitive in the marketplace, and refusing to be used as political pawns and mascots for progressivism.

Anthony Bradley Anthony Bradley, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics in the Public Service Program at The King's College in New York City and serves as a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute. Dr. Bradley lectures at colleges, universities, business organizations, conferences, and churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. His books include: Liberating Black Theology: The Bible and the Black Experience in America (2010),  Black and Tired: Essays on Race, Politics, Culture, and International Development (2011),  The Political Economy of Liberation: Thomas Sowell and James Cone of the Black Experience (2012), Keep Your Head Up: America's New Black Christian Leaders, Social Consciousness, and the Cosby Conversation (2012), Aliens in the Promised Land:  Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions (forthcoming, 2013). Dr. Bradley's writings on religious and cultural issues have been published in a variety of journals, including: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Detroit News, and World Magazine. Dr. Bradley is called upon by members of the broadcast media for comment on current issues and has appeared C-SPAN, NPR, CNN/Headline News, and Fox News, among others. He studies and writes on issues of race in America, hip hop, youth culture, issues among African Americans, the American family, welfare, education, and modern slavery. From 2005-2009, Dr. Bradley was Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO where he also directed the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute.   Dr. Bradley holds Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Clemson University, a Master of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Westminster Theological Seminary.  Dr. Bradley also holds an M.A. in Ethics and Society at Fordham University.

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