OK, I’m going to make one final appeal to black folks to simply stop the nonsense.
That would be this business of us dismissing – and dissing – each other as “Uncle Toms,” “house slaves,” “house Negroes” or well, just fill in any term that fits this pattern.
Usually, it’s black conservatives and/or Republicans that are the targets of these racially offensive, gratuitous, ad hominem attacks.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been called all of the above. One cover of the now-defunct Emerge magazine depicted Thomas with a handkerchief over his head.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been the target of such attacks; so have former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Some blacker-than-thou Negroes gave Detroit Mayor Dave Bing a “sambo sellout” award. His offense? He supported charter schools.
Perhaps the cruelest and most egregious case was that of the late, great former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier, who was raked over the coals for being an “Uncle Tom” during the days when he was Muhammad Ali’s main ring nemesis.
Decking Ali in their first fight and giving him hell in the 26 rounds of their final two fights didn’t make Frazier an “Uncle Tom.” It DID make him exactly what he was: a badass to the bone.
Now we have Spike Lee getting the Uncle Tom, house Negro treatment. And who’s the one giving it to him?
Luke Campbell, former member of the rap group 2 Live Crew. Yes, the guy famous for making smutty videos is now trying to come off like former Public Enemy rapper Chuck D.
Talk about a sign of the Apocalypse.
Lee’s views about Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” don’t sit well with Campbell. In a recent op-ed piece, Campbell unloaded on Lee with this tirade:
“Screw Spike Lee. Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ is a brilliant flick that more accurately depicts the African American experience than any of the 15 movies about black culture Lee’s directed in his lifetime.
“Lee needs to get over himself. He’s upset because Tarantino makes better movies. The man who put Malcolm X on the big screen is Hollywood’s resident house negro, a bougie activist who wants to tell his fellow white auteurs how they can and can’t depict African Americans.
“Spike is upset because Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie is just like him: a conniving and scheming Uncle Tom.”
I don’t like this talk when it’s done to black conservatives and Republicans, and I don’t like it when such talk is directed at Lee either, although he’s been guilty of using such language himself, about Clarence Thomas.
And Lee wasn’t content to simply call Thomas an “Uncle Tom.” He had to add diet and attire to his tirade. According to Lee, Thomas is either a “bandana-wearing, watermelon-eating Uncle Tom” or a “handkerchief head, chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom.”
We have to wonder how Lee feels now that he’s the one on the receiving end of this Uncle Tom-house slave-house Negro business. I would hope that it would make him pause and consider why black people use such vile, despicable, abusive language toward each other.
WHY are we obsessed with ferreting out “Uncle Toms,” “house slaves,” “house Negroes” and the like? Why are we obsessed with trying to out-black each other and so eager to check each other’s black bona fides?
A colleague of mine, Philadelphia columnist Elmer Smith, is fond of saying that “black folks are the only racial or ethnic group in the country with a credentials committee.” I’ve heard people from other ethnic and racial groups dispute the claim. They say their ethnic or racial group also has a credentials committee, as if that’s a good thing.
But those on the African American credentials committee distinguish themselves by being the nastiest and the most vicious. And they all seem to be self-appointed.
Lee appointed himself and dissed Clarence Thomas’ black bona fides. Years later, Luke Campbell presumed to boot Lee off the committee and question Lee’s black bona fides.
Maybe it’s time we disbanded the committee. There was a time when black folks talked about self hatred. It’s time we had the courage to ask ourselves if the scurrilous racial attacks we make on each other are symptomatic of that self hatred.