When a “Sellout” Isn’t Actually Selling Out

(Source of photo: azquotes.com)

Let’s begin this post with the dictionary.com definition of “sellout”:

Informal. a person who betrays a cause, organization, or the like; traitor.

Informal. a person who compromises his or her personal values, integrity, talent, or the like, for money or personal advancement.

The formal definition of the term being a show, movie, or other event where all the seats are purchased. Obviously, my post covers the two informal definitions of this word.

In the black community, (I personally detest using the word “community” to describe a group a people only connected tenuously by skin color and some shared culture, but bear with me), being labeled a sellout is the biggest insult you can receive. It is tantamount to Hester Prynne being given the Scarlet Letter to wear.

Black conservatives often endure such treatment, especially considering the fact that the perception is that political conservatism is the preferred ideology of white supremacists. Of course, I think the notion that black conservatives collectively are sellouts is ridiculous, but I mention this phenomenon to illustrate the main points of my post…

Firstly, no group of people ever thinks or acts monolithically. A black conservative’s choice to become a black conservative is very complex and nuanced. Given the backlash against such a thing, a black person identifying as a conservative is obviously not a decision arrived at without some degree of trepidation.

Secondly, change never happens by sitting on the sidelines or through mere protest.

This last point goes to the heart my post.

Rap mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is being given the Scarlet Letter treatment for making a deal with the NFL to help the league with entertainment. Carter will also consult with the NFL on matters of social injustice.

Many in the black community see this move as Carter selling out, especially in light of his comments with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the kneeling protests saying “we’ve moved past kneeling and I think it’s time to go into actionable items“.

I often say that we as Americans have a problem with emoting rather than thinking, and the reaction to what Jay-Z is doing and saying highlights this point perfectly. The people casting aspersions are failing to see the bigger picture.

Racism and racial ignorance will continue to thrive as long as far too many people of color sit idly by instead of actively influencing the institutions they are passively protesting and leading these institutions out of its collective ignorance.

There is a continuation of the old adage “if you can’t beat them, join them”. That continuation is “when you join them, then you can change them”.

Much of our racial progress was achieved not through passive protest, but rather by active involvement in facilitating change.

It is the courageous black conservative that softened the rational wing of conservatism on issues of race.

It is the black athletes and entertainers who endured demeaning roles and naked abuse that opened doors for the Colin Kaepernicks and Shawn Carters of the world today.

It is the black civil servants and black politicians who changed government from the inside out to be more of a tool for justice rather than a tool for silent oppression.

These brave Americans didn’t sellout. They opened doors, broke down barriers, and changed hearts and minds one organization and institution at a time.

And the journey continues…

-The Rational Ram

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