By Adam B. Coleman
I spent many years of my life being occasionally maligned for behaving in a way other people that look like me did not. I was told what my intentions were rather than asked. I was made out to be someone attempting to move past the gates of blackness due to my supposed irreverence for my skin color.
In actuality, I was simply trying to think for myself.
Practicing individualism is a threat to someone trying to control a group’s outcome and to the loyal followers who never want to feel alone in their dogmatic behavior. If you dare step out of line, your societal siblings will pull you back in like crabs in a barrel.
Recently, Nicki Minaj tweeted about a rumor involving an unknown man in Trinidad with supposed medical issues stemming from the COVID-19 vaccine. Immediately afterwards, Nicki was put in the position to experience such clawing at her ankles.
She didn’t get in trouble because of this story alone because, ultimately, it’s a rumor. She got in trouble because she, a black woman, implied that people should think for themselves and not be bullied into a line of thinking.
To anyone not living in this racialized gated community, understand these metaphorical crabs serve an important purpose. They are the black community’s gatekeepers.
Nicki not only felt the force of the black gatekeepers, but also the political & media establishment gatekeepers that help reinforce black crustacean stereotypes.
Gatekeeper Joy-Ann Reid publicly chastised Nicki Minaj for even giving the appearance of defiance. She feigned such displeasure in Nicki’s tweet by acting as if Nicki’s millions of Twitter followers read a single tweet and make their medical decisions based on it.
However, Joy-Ann Reid’s diatribe helped expose herself as a gatekeeper when she said, “For you to use your platform to encourage our community,” the keywords being “our community.”
If Nicki Minaj were white, Joy-Ann Reid would simply dismiss her as an ignorant Trumper. However, because Nicki is black, her actions as a black woman must be acknowledged, a finger must be wagged, and a claw must be extended to pull her back in line.
“Our community” is invoking race in the conversation when Nicki did not initially do so.
If you make a statement without mentioning race, which doesn’t fall within the guidelines, the gatekeepers will reassert race into the conversation simply due to your existence.
Many of these gatekeepers claim to believe in uncompromising racial unity and being unapologetically pro-black. However, when you step out of line, they’ll attack your identity harder than any racist ever could.
Joy-Ann Reid had no problem going on a mainstream television network, MSNBC, while having a conversation with two white men, and interrupting herself by ranting about how another black woman needs to do better and get back in line.
A week after the Nicki Minaj debacle, coincidentally, Kevin Samuels released a series of videos refuting accusations made about him. I’d like to address two of them: “Kevin Samuels hates black women” and “Kevin Samuels is gay.” Regardless of if you love Kevin or hate him, I want to address why these claims exist in the first place.
Some may say Kevin is called gay because he dresses in a particular way, but he’s an image consultant and you could argue the necessity for him to try out different looks. The real reason he’s called gay is because he’s stepped out of line multiple times by not treating every black woman as a default queen.
He has dared to speak to black women, who publicly volunteered, and highlight their flaws because people pretend they’re impervious to mistakes. His calling a black woman ‘average’ has turned into an act of war.
Never mind the countless black women that have publicly thanked him for his help, those women are just ‘pick-me’s’ and the gatekeepers still want him silenced.
He’s a man who thinks for himself, says what he deems necessary, and simultaneously tries to hold people accountable. When Kevin spent years talking to primarily black men in the same fashion, no one cared about his tone or questioned his sexuality. When the target of his conversations changed from black men to black women, the target of the gatekeepers also changed.
The gatekeepers have no problem with famous black women indiscriminately shaking their asses for the masses. But if they open their mouths indiscriminately, that’s a problem. The gatekeepers have no problem with gay men, yet they allow being gay to be used as a negative trope against straight black men when they step out of line.
Gatekeeping is not an inherently inappropriate activity. If you believe your community should have a set of standards, then maybe you should do what is necessary to uphold those standards. However, I question what is being kept behind these gates and why.
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