“A Masquerade of White Naïveté” – Micah Eisen

“The Black Present and Presence” event, led by speakers V. Dozier and Dr. Ii, sheds light on how often aspects of black culture are seemingly taken by white people and processed to the point where little to no organic nature or authenticity remains, and then spit out the other side with a neatly tied bow of virtuous humility. V. Dozier describes this haughty privilege as a self-invitation to “the black barbeque.” This narrative of white people inviting themselves to the black barbeque is just one example of the masquerade of white naivete that historically and presently disregards, delegitimizes, and ultimately disrespects black culture and black reality. This narrative is more fully understood when considering: the publication of Bad and Boujee, Toward a Trap Feminist Theology, written by Jennifer M. Buck, a white woman; the disenfranchisement of black people during the nineteenth century; and the idea of “Black Consciousness” and the lack thereof in white American communities. 

V. Dozier explains in her presentation how black Twitter sounded the alarm and began a viral reaction to the publication of Bad and Boujee and its misfit author, Jennifer M. Buck. Black feminists and theologians who saw the book and decided to dig a little deeper are the ones who made the initial realization. The question was, as Dozier puts it, “What is happening? And who is this person who is not of our circle to publish on our lives?” Jennifer M. Buck assumed an invitation to the black barbeque and decided to write an entire book, detailing “Trap Feminist Theology.” Ms. Buck tried to enter a party that quite literally no one invited her to. In an attempt to feel a part of some new, progressive, hip movement, Ms. Buck made herself out to be a fool. Buck states in her book;

“My love and appreciation for hip-hop music and the trap sub-genre has been cultivated over years, starting with one of my earliest jobs as a hip-hop dance teacher in my teens. Into adulthood, and through my scholarship, I have come to better understand the depth and complexity of this genre of music and the lives and systems behind it” (Buck 12).

As Dozier puts it, “because she taught hip-hop classes, she thought she had an invitation to the black barbeque.” 

Jennifer Buck exemplifies the odd fascination and hypocritical nature of white attraction to black culture, especially in more contemporary instances. The movie Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele, is based on this concept. As Abdul Moiz so beautifully puts it in his blog and analysis of Get Out, “[the film] portrays the romanticization of blackness by white people as an object to be accumulated instead of a cultural identity to be understood” (Moiz). Black culture is not there for the taking. Black culture is made up of black people, black communities, and black reality. There is a difference between recognizing blackness and trying to be black. Not only this but there is immense irony and even hypocrisy in the fact that white people have somehow evolved from disregarding black opinion altogether, to now, romanticizing it. 

Nineteenth-century America painted a different picture. Freedom on My Mind, by Deborah Gray White, Waldo Martin, and Mia Bay, discusses the different tactics and voting regulations that disenfranchised black men, making it extremely difficult for them to vote. “​​Wherever violence, intimidation, and coercion did not prevent black men from exercising the franchise, southern white chicanery — including moving polling places, stuffing ballot boxes, buying and manipulating black voters, and destroying black ballots — undermined the black vote” (White, Martin, Bay 596). The subtlety of disenfranchisement allowed white people to ignore the black agenda altogether and hide under a veil of false innocence. However, as the years have gone by, this veil has turned from an obvious attempt to camouflage racism in regard to the law, to a now seemingly invisible aspect of white perception, totally and miraculously wiped from view. With this said, there is no actual innocence. With the news that circulates our communities on a daily basis and the racial conversations that we are aware of as a nation, we all have a duty to be socially and racially aware of our actions. Anyone who is even mildly educated is most definitely aware of these narratives. Perhaps, then, there is a conscious divergence within a white person that motivates them to show up to the black barbeque unannounced. 

Failure to recognize the hypocrisy in white attitudes towards black culture in the last one hundred years is mistake number one. Redlining, the war on drugs, and spreading false agendas are just a few of the ways other than disenfranchisement that have been utilized to undermine black communities. You do not punch a man in the face, spew derogatory terms at him, stomp his head into the ground, spit on him, and then moments later declare your absolute support of him, his family, and his ideals. White culture threw black culture in the trash and then decided to change its mind when it deemed fit. People like Jennifer Buck are undoubtedly not bad people. Rather, Buck was so in support of a movement, she chose to write a book about it. The issue is, she does not get to write a book about it, because she is not of that circle, as V. Dozier pointed out. If Jennifer Buck actually had the respect she thinks she does for the black community, she would have gone about writing a book through an entirely different lens. As highlighted above, blackness is not “an object to be accumulated,” but rather “a cultural identity to be understood” (Moiz). One must not step into another person’s shoes if the person is still wearing the shoes. You first ask, and then borrow them, making sure to return them to their original owner. 

To further illustrate the white masquerade of naivete narrative, considering the concept of “Black Consciousness” is quite helpful. Steve Biko, in his Toward a Just World Order discusses what needs to happen in order to reach “true humanity.” Of course, true humanity would not involve a masquerade of any sort. Biko pinpoints exactly how the white masquerade of naivete came to be. 

The leaders of the white community had to create some kind of barrier between blacks and whites so that the whites could enjoy privileges at the expense of blacks and still feel free to give a moral justification for the obvious exploitation that pricked even the hardest of white consciences” (Biko). 

In other words, over time, a moral justification was developed within the white community to permit continual undermining of the black community. As long as people believe they are doing the right thing, they will continue on. Biko’s argument of  “Black Consciousness,” involves making a consistent and conscious effort to recognize such history and relate it to the present day. Creating this awareness in white people is necessary to lift off the masquerade of naivete and reveal the raw reality of a situation. 

V. Dozier and Dr. Ii shed light on how often white people invite themselves to the black barbeque in regards to culture in their talk, “The Black Present and Presence.” Their examples outline the vast masquerade of white naivete that continues to deeply disrespect black communities and black history while simultaneously sugar-coating white egos and justifying white malice. The publication of Bad and Boujee, Toward a Trap Feminist Theology, written by Jennifer M. Buck, a white woman, perfectly exemplifies this notion and highlights its disingenuous nature. Other examples lie in a study of the disenfranchisement of black men during the nineteenth century, as well as Steve Biko’s discussion of “Black Consciousness” in his book, Toward a Just World Order. All of the above illustrate a narrative in which white people choose to ignore the racial hypocrisies of their actions in an effort to be a part of something they are not. To once again reiterate the words of Abdul Moiz, blackness is not “an object to be accumulated,” it is “a cultural identity to be understood.”


Works Cited

Moiz, Abdul. “Get out Film Analysis- Negrophilia, Race-Relation and the New Dynamic.” Medium, Medium, 25 Nov. 2019, https://medium.com/@abdulmoiz168/get-out-film-analysis-negrophilia-race-relation-and-the-new-dynamic-b64f6ed8095f. 

White, Deborah G., et al. Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, with Documents. Bedford/St. Martins, 2021. 

Biko, Steve. “Black Consciousness and the Quest for a True Humanity: Steve Biko: T.” Taylor & Francis, Taylor & Francis, 22 Mar. 2019, https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429269400-4/black-consciousness-quest-true-humanity-steve-biko?context=ubx. 

Dozier., V. Ii, Khalia. “The Black Present and Presence.” Black Women’s Cultural (In)Visibility, Black History at USD Project, 27 April 2022, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA. 


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