Black excellence was initially used as a phrase to celebrate the successes of black people in a society that continues to insist in word and deed that black people’s lives are of less value and they contribute less to society. Enter black excellence to celebrate high levels of achievement and success among black people, to affirm them. For some reason it was limited to people of a specific social class, your doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, entertainers of all kinds, award-winning athletes, you get the drift. In recent years, people have begun to criticize the whole idea of having to prove that black people can do things and do them well, sorry excellently. Here are some of the criticisms people have about the concept as a whole.
Individualistic not about the community
Like the rest of the ideals underpinning capitalism, black excellence centers on the individual. We are encouraged to believe that individual wins are wins for the community. If a few black people can rise to the top and join the elite, it must mean the systemic things that were holding black people back have been eliminated a la the president is black so racism has been solved. Overall it says to everyone if African people can make it in the system, then anyone can. The American dream is real, systemic barriers are gone.
Black excellence tries to convince us that Individual wins are a win for the collective.
The false class solidarity with black billionaires is why we can’t hold them accountable as they exploit fellow black people for profit😒 https://t.co/FbKFUWCczY
— Fiona Laker ✊🏿 (@fioneezy) March 11, 2023
“Black Excellence” is rooted in Western norms of individualism, at the expense of Black/African diasporic values of collectivism. This individualism produces hero worship, and the heroes worshiped are celebrities controlled by corporate entities invested in Black exploitation. https://t.co/HpyDD5FCIJ
— L E F T, PhD ⚫️ (@LeftSentThis) March 13, 2023
Slavery and colonialism completely destroyed colonized people’s psyche and sense of self. White people made sure black people internalized this inferiority. So black people are constantly trying to prove that they are valuable and sometimes that looks like trying to distinguish themselves as better than the rest, a version of the exceptional negro.
Black excellence is almost always based on capitalism, elitism, and proximity to white ideals. It's a redressing of the exceptional negro narrative https://t.co/mXwoYGFl6C
— Tripp Fontane (@TrippFontane) March 11, 2023
Everything about “Black Excellence” is connected to reinforcing capitalism and white supremacy from the respectability politics of it all to the “generational wealth” posts, and I say this as someone who use to use/say Black Excellence all the time. https://t.co/NJEu0PxjC9
— When is the General Strike (@SoulRevision) March 11, 2023
A narrow definition of success
The group who qualify to be celebrated is narrow. If you’re not some kind of high earner in your field who’s considered beautiful and famous, you may not qualify. It’s not about what you do so much as what you have to show for it, stuff. It doesn’t include community organisers and other people daily working to improve the community but includes billionaires and thieves who exploit the labour of black and brown people all over the world. It doesn’t include activists but it includes people with beyond questionable morals who’ve been accused of heinous crimes including murder and rape.
I would like to know why the concept of “Black Excellence” is used only when its referencing someone wealthy and famous when there’s Black people doing extraordinary things everyday right in our own communities that continue to go unrecognized https://t.co/8uAlWjirvN
— dr hadassah olayinka ali-youngman pre-PHD (@aashanteee) March 11, 2023
Billionaires are bad people even the black ones https://t.co/82lHOu6b3D
— Jay 🔜 DreamCon (@Jayzus___) March 11, 2023
“Black Excellence” was never intended to create equity amongst Black Americans. It was intended as a form of elitism for people with degrees. It has gravitated to deify celebrity culture and those with social currency around their appearance. It was never helpful actually. https://t.co/7iaT7rIxz6
— 𝐇𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐲 𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐲𝐚𝐰 (@justxhenry) March 12, 2023
Dehumanizes black people
Black people are not only worth celebrating when they achieve the markers of success that capitalist society values like fame and wealth. Black people are valuable and they deserve respect, they deserve to live dignified lives free from all manner of oppression. Black people like all other people should be able to be mediocre as all get out and still be treated with basic human dignity.
That it's not necessary, black mediocrity is a also okay. https://t.co/n0nTPB4Jnm
— robin (@Queen_Ntsx) March 12, 2023
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