A Case Against Black Excellence
The statement black excellence has often been associated with people of color who are seen to be the superiors. The blacks that maneuvered their way around capitalism, institutional prejudice and achieved more than the average person. The rich, the educated, and most importantly those in closest proximity to whiteness.
If you’re black, it’s likely you never had the option to put minimal effort in anything because the only other option was poverty. I write this from a low middle class household standpoint and although I never went to bed without a meal, getting a college education was never not an option. You constantly have to stretch yourself to the thinnest most stressful point in order only to gain a ‘superior status’ that only operates to divide blacks and exclude those that have failed to escape the system. More often than not the quest for black excellence involves breaking down racial barriers and getting as close to whiteness as one can possibly get, because whiteness is property and property is capitalism.
What does is mean to be black and excellent ? One might objectively argue getting a PhD by 30 or running a successful business constitutes black excellence, but logic tells single African women providing & putting their children through school is rather excellent as well. This is not to say we should not celebrate our counterparts. This is far from such an argument. To cut it short,
Black excellence is exhausting.
Black excellence is ever enduring, leaving no room for failure and requiring that one go through an enormous amount of suffering to achieve it. It demands so much decorum, a special political correctness, a burden too heavy considering that no one can definitively say who decides when one achieves excellence.
This impossible standard has been set that dictates, the best performing blacks are the ones most deserving of racial equality while the others watch from the sidelines.
The obvious context of this piece is that blacks have only been granted limited access and then subsequently required to work thrice, four times harder than counterparts who might be in those very positions solely on account of privilege and not merit. The bare minimum for blacks is uncomfortably close to what is considered exceptional in whiteness.
Equality is a space in which blacks can be mediocre and have the very privileges that white mediocrity enjoys. A space where black participation starts from the bottom of the system, the very core of wealth which is ownership and capital. The entire concept of black excellence cannot exist without a white comparison, and until that comparison is completely eradicated by equality then blacks will never define excellence for themselves.
A dismantling of the system needs to take place followed by a redefinition of excellence that acknowledges success & self actualization come in many forms. Excellence or nothing is an impossible standard.