FX’s Atlanta presents what is largely missing from black portrayal—an unadulterated portrayal of black life. The series does not feature picturesque characters of the cookie cutter sort. Though the series lead Earn (OG) is a Princeton graduate and in real-life Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry) is a Yale graduate—the series captures a narrative that up to this point, was deemed not marketable to prime-time audiences. The series confronts race, mild fame, family, stereotypes and economics. The most resounding episode to date being Juneteenth where Van attends a networking event that provokes conversations of class and race that are both hilarious and familiar. Teddy Perkins illustrates what folk tolerate when something is free and illustrates that unsolved conflicts don’t fade to black, but multiply.
However, though revered for its nuanced approach to blackness and racism, this series flourishes because of racism. Though Glover’s work from to his recent video This is America make waves in a white supremacist media for issuing a black perspective, this perspective and experience is one-dimensional to Glover.
Though a black man navigating through the Western Hemisphere—Glover has followed a systemic pattern of b lack men who date/marry and reproduce with non-black woman despite taking an authoritative presence in the black narrative. In accessing his authorative presence in the white supremacist media, it is imperative to note that Glover assumes said authority because of whom he has chosen as his partner.
Glover’s actions are the ones of a melanated man desiring to take advantage of a black moment. It is the essence of America to designate a time and space where it is “okay” to be black. Yet this allowance is a short leash extended to those who wish to maintain its superficial understanding with one or two times or episode that strike a nerve but are not enough to elevate thoughts let alone provoke any meaningful conversation.
Glover is congruent to the contemporary #metoo movement as his efforts though overtly doused in blackness—service the needs of white women. Given that he has selected a non-black woman as a spouse and pro-created with said woman his money and legacy becomes intertwined with the African adjacent. More poignantly, his every day and future is inherently anti-black, making his affiliation with blackness null and void. His behavior reflects what I will reference as “the Glover Cover.”
The Glover Cover
The Glover cover is a sort of contemporary blackface. Now in using this term, I know that I speak to a very painful and violent display of mockery engendered by whites in actions of black burlesque. While this burlesque still takes place on college campuses throughout the world for Halloween, it has taken on a new form in the contemporary climate. Contemporary blackface implements the use of melanated bodies to carry out white supremacists motifs. Contemporary blackface features a physically black person capitalizing on the fad of blackness, and addressing blackness superficially. They may issue a few good lines, or even a good episode—but their goal to to “win” in a capitalistic society, not to provoke any real difference. Their superficial engagement with blackness proves lucrative in opening the door for future endeavors that will have nothing to do with blackness at all.
Though I have named this behavior the Donald Glover cover, it is imperative to note that this behavior is not limited to him. Rather it is exuded in Shonda Rhimes, Justin Simien amongst others. Their behavior is one of survival, speaking specifically to a desire to “survive” enslavement by being the “good” slave though appearing, to the heuristically hypnotized, to be free.
Those wearing the Donald Glover cover attempt to reach the heights of whites while black, placing a white mask over their black exterior. Their is no pride or purpose involved in said pursuits, what is involved is passing. The assailants of contemporary blackface pass as black conscious or woke, depicting socially acceptable radicalism as veiled white supremacy. Specifically, Glover confirms white supremacy in the same breath that he issues his pseudo challenge, he is radical and conservative—depicting contemporary blackface as a socially accepted radicalism where the black body in pursuit of the white mask takes one step forward and two steps backwards. The white light shines on their faces and nothing else matters. They gloat as trailblazers and representatives of free thought though their minds are in chains—-internalizing the belief that beating racism is as good as abolishing it.
No thought can be free if the mind is in chains. Yet it seems that because the contemporary is on the other side of the empty gesture called the emancipation proclamation, many take freedom as fact despite the overt limitations said freedom imposes on black life and black thought. Blackness remains what so many aim to shed, or try to make incidental—although the contemporary climate omits the need to articulate said feelings.
Instead, the masses are encouraged to find inspiration and support those who believe more in the white light of a star, than the blackness of the sky that makes this illumination possible.
Black Power ❤