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Social Issues

Selling Out: Accusation or Reality?


In ‘The Negro in Brazilian Society,’  Fernandes writes, “those [Negros and mulattoes] who had the satisfaction of success through their own efforts or with the aid of whites felt no moral obligation toward the masses of their colleagues who lived in the greatest poverty and degradation” (Fernandes, 44).  The lack of “moral obligation” that privileged Negros and mulattoes felt is compelling because it is a phenomenon plaguing the entire African diaspora even until the present.  In the United States, Latin America, or any other diaspora, we call it, ‘oh they left the neighborhood and forgot about us,’ or ‘we aren’t the same and they make us look bad.’  This disassociation that takes place within a racial or ethnic group insinuates that it is impossible to move up in a society without distancing one’s self from the stereotyped, socially unacceptable group from which they came.  Even in regards to class, we see the same types of occurrences.  Can one ‘move up’ without losing one’s culture or even association with a certain group?  For example, is it ‘selling out’ to speak properly as opposed to Eubonics in order to conform to societal norms, despite the fact that linguistically, Eubonics of any language is considered a true language like a creole?

The ‘selling-out’ phenomenon is a tricky one because it brings about questions of European dominance and tends to strike a nerve with many minorities from all classes.  Fernandes continues to write that “they sought above all else to clear the dividing line that was already being drawn between the emerging black elite and low-class Negroes, endeavoring to imitate as best they could the life of the white aristocracy in the days of slavery” (Fernandes, 45).  Interestingly, the Movimento Negro Socialista from Brazil makes similar accusations against certain Negro groups supporting Affirmative Action, but not including the Movimento Negro Unificado.  They suggest that the other supporters have sold out to capitalism and are in favor of quotas that will support middle class blacks admittance to higher education when in fact the real problem lies with lower class blacks who are the majority lacking in educational attainment.  The MNS asserts that they have sold out to capitalism because they are pushing for blacks to buy into the middle and upper middle class dream of utilizing a university education to become viable consumers in the economy.  All of these accusations of ‘selling-out,’ though in different forms, force one to think about the implications of such accusations for the solidarity of people of color.  Furthermore, if someone must sell out in order to succeed, are Blacks from any diaspora doomed to remain stagnant and in the lower classes of society in order to uphold a theoretical moral stance?



2 thoughts on “Selling Out: Accusation or Reality?

  1. Is the “American Dream” to be a sell-out? For minorities who gain a certain socioeconomic status they are often referred to as a sell-out. This is not however because they have forgotten their roots or where they come from. Instead it is because they are now breaking stereotypes that have been tagged to that group of minorities usually by whites but unfortunately are believed to be true by many minorities themselves (usually the ones calling others sell-outs). There is not a box that all people from any race or culture can fit in.

    Posted by Larry Smith | June 20, 2012, 10:28 pm

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