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The New Black?: Progressives are Puzzled about Race in 2020

From Jessica Krug and Rachel Dolezal, to Kamala Harris and Cardi B, it appears Americans aren’t quite sure what black representation means.

Growing up, many of us were empowered by great black women of achievement like gymnast Dominique Dawes, singer Whitney Houston and the Williams’ sisters. These women never hid their hue, but wore it proudly as they soared to the peaks of greatness. Regardless, all Americans from all backgrounds applauded their success. It wasn’t because they were black, but because they joined the league of rare achievers.

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One would think that the growing representation of black entertainers, influencers, leaders and voices would be welcomed. Especially by progressives. But it’s 2020 and that reality isn’t so.

The Kamala Conundrum

When presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden looked to Kamala Harris to represent black America, Americans of all backgrounds were let down. This was for two reasons. One, his decision to select his vice presidential candidate was purely about race and gender. Two, when he did make his VP decision, he actually chose someone who went on the record as an Indian American but now claims to be black. (At least she’s a woman, right?)

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Biden received his roasting from both sides of the aisle. He caught it from liberals who had truly African American candidates in mind, like former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams. The former VP was also crushed by conservatives who saw straight through the charade early on as he clumsily dodged the notion of a Biden-Abrams ticket while pandering still to the black voter bloc.

People, pundits and politicos from all over the political spectrum pretty much agree the Biden-Harris ticket is akin to ordering a purple bridesmaid’s dress on, only to receive a pink innertube instead.

Yet there is a corner of black progressive voter bloc that believes Kamala Harris is indeed a great representative of the black community a la the one-drop rule (as Harris’ father has some black ancestry by way of his Jamaican roots). But this would be the same group that claims our history of presidential candidates have lacked black representation while rejecting former Republican candidates Herman Cain (RIP) and Ben Carson.

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In all truth, the concern isn’t about whether Harris is black, white, blue or orange. What’s bothersome and pathetic is Biden’s attempt to pander to a voter bloc only to not give them what they asked for. If Biden a la the DNC couldn’t deliver his promise of a black VP candidate when he said he would, what makes voters believe he can fulfill his promises on harder hitting issues like inner city crime, education and unemployment? Could he bait and switch again? And will progressive voters even know the wool is over their eyes or just accept what they are given. Anything to get President Trump out of office. But certainly progressive black America wants more than this?

Passing for a Panderer

Racial identity issues are a thing. But when Jessica Krug, a white woman, took it too far, it makes many of us on the right and the left wonder why some choose to capitalize on color. As black progressives fight fiercely for representation in beauty, film, modeling, entertainment, corporate America and in politics, some non-black people like Krug wondered what’s in it for them. The associate professor of History and Africana studies at George Washington University revealed her true skin in a viral testimony. Her story echoes that of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who was exposed for pretending to be black and who currently teaches an online audience how to do braid extensions on her YouTube channel.

Ultimately culture is meant to be shared — hair styles and clothing choices included. However, the hypocrisy sets in when select black progressives shame a random white woman for wearing cornrows while also inviting Krug and Dolezal to “the cookout.” Someone make it make sense.

For generations, black progressives have lobbied for greater black leadership to reject what they consider to be a “whitewashed” society. Many of us remember a time where Halle Berry and Mariah Carey were sadly deemed unacceptable for being biracial, and that black viewers wanted to see more “fully black” celebrities take the spotlight. But then this calls to question how many black students had no problem taking an Africana 101 course administered by a white woman in disguise. That said, what does it mean to be black at all? Is black a race, a creed, or an ideology?

Something Wrong with Right-wing Blacks

If an idea makes a person black, then this explains why Biden was comfortable selecting rapper Cardi B to represent black America during an interview for Elle Magazine. Some time after the interview took place, conservative firebrand Candace Owens shared her thoughts about the interaction on the Ben Shapiro show.

Candace Owens Destroys Cardi B On Instagram Over Joe Biden Interview

Both agreed that Cardi B offers little if anything to the political arena except for a reachable audience for the Biden campaign. Owens suggested that Cardi B was being used — not as an attack on the rapper — but as education about how left-wing politicians frequently borrow celebrity pedestals for political gain. For Biden, this likely meant reaching an unsuspecting star with a large black audience.

There is much to unpack here.

First, if Cardi B was Biden’s preferred way to reach the black community, then what is the vice presidential candidate suggesting about black America? That they subscribe to songs like that in latest hit “WAP”? That black people embrace rap culture in this form?

Second: How does Biden find that a Dominican-American rapper from the Bronx who has some Afro-Latino ancestry has the pulse of the African American community? Is her influence the kind that black America can relate to and will embrace willingly? (Cue her No. 1 hit.) Are there no black American leaders qualified enough to sit beside Biden to discuss issues that matter to them or is Cardi B our gold standard?

And finally, third: Why is a black leader like Candace Owens rejected by black progressives while she embodies the very leadership and influence this demographic has demanded for decades? If being black isn’t about restoring the importance of fatherhood, encouraging healthy families, improving schools, creating safer communities and giving black people the fair slice of the American pie that they deserve, then what does it mean to represent it?

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