The Black Humanitarian and the Myth of Unity

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Tyler Perry is a cancer for black people whose espousal to the white imaginary makes him an ideal agent for anti-blackness. From joining the chorus in urging black vaccination despite a history of systemic abuse to his speech at the Oscars that underscored unity, a concept linked to “not hating” the police on the heels of Daunte Wright and Ma’Khia Bryant’s murders, delineates Perry as a man bought by the media to sell white nationalism to the black collective. Ironically enough, Perry referenced unity while accepting a humanitarian award at the Oscars. 

His speech suggests that to be human as a person of African descent is to “unite” with the forces cast against their individual and collective selves to ensure black sacrifice imbues white survival.

Let’s be clear here, what Perry implements is not Dr. King’s passive resistance. Instead, what he exhibits is white nationalism in black packaging, or what Dr. Amos Wilson called a black face of white power. Behind the veil of showing black people “as they are,” Perry’s films delineate black people as the white world needs them to be. So, he is not a pillar in depicting “the folk” in the media, his work operates as a pillow to white comfort, and his speech articulates the message his work harbored all along. 

Yet, what is most troublesome about Perry’s act is that it echoes a pervasive sentiment regarding black people and unity. Division comprises the core of the United States and has since its conception.  In the contemporized wave of white supremacy, black people bear the cross of division as if we are the reason for our presence in America, our stolen language, and appropriated culture. Talk of wanting to build and have our own, or establish the self and esteem that this country continues to deprive black people of, constitutes division in a world devoted to dividing black people from self-empowerment. 

Those at fault for maintaining the black-white division that continues to anchor this country receive credit for merely speaking the word “unity” while their actions remain espoused to exclusivity. 

I want to be clear that when I use the word “white,” I speak directly to those who are in fact, white and non-black people of color who obtain access to whiteness systematically. Whether symbols of American diversity or tokenized professionals, black people remain detached from whiteness in an inability to actualize its presence as reality. 

Those of African descent solicited to articulate or implement unity, like Tyler Perry, engender division among black people. This division remains an integral component to maintaining white nationalism. Remarkably, prominent black figures that posit black people as the problem suggest that everything would be different if only we were better. Again, the black collective proves synonymous to Pecola Breedlove from Morrison’s first novel The Bluest Eye. Pecola—a young girl driven mad by harsh racial realities— seeks to ameliorate racial circumstances with blue eyes. 

It is, of course, not a matter of having the bluest eyes or being “better” that harbors change, though this is what the talk of the contemporary field negro leads many to believe. This thinking socially reproduces ideas of black inferiority, which illuminates the core divisive attribute that makes this country go ‘round. 

A true black humanitarian does not forgive dehumanizing acts against those of his or her collective. Rather, a true black humanitarian demands humane treatment from those who wish to relegate the the black collective to the debased roles of either slaughtered hogs or trained dogs.

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