Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Vineyard Bites Black and Other Class Tales


Hat tip:The Black Snob
Oak Bluffs Residents Bite Back At Toure's New York Mag Story
Friday, July 24, 2009 at 9:00AM

And they said that wasn't THEIR lives at Martha's Vineyard writer Toure was penning for New York Magazine last month. In the article he talked about black self-segregation and how some residents of Oak Bluffs and Martha's Vineyard wouldn't be interested in the First Family because the Obamas were "off the people" and Michelle Obama was a "ghetto girl." Stay classy, that one.

Well, naturally not everyone in Oak Bluffs was pleased with how Toure portrayed their little hamlet.

More after the jump.

(T)he overwhelming view of a large number of Island residents, seasonal and year-round, black and white, is that the piece, published June 21 under the headline Black and White on Martha’s Vineyard, was desperately unfair and wrong.

Thus Abigail McGrath, of Oak Bluffs, drafted a letter of response to the magazine and circulated it among her Island friends for their signatures.

It was quite a letter.

“My family has lived on the Vineyard for seven generations and I don’t recognize MY Vineyard in the article, Black and White on the Vineyard, written by Mr. TourĂ©,” she began, then went on to condemn its “appalling inaccuracies which misrepresent the Island in a divisive way.”

She went on to bet “a free week in my Oak Bluffs house” that if the author were to interview any of the “heavyweight” blacks mentioned in the piece, “not to mention many whites, residents and visitors, each would question the accuracy of this article.”

And indeed this week when the Gazette contacted some of the people mentioned in the article — and others who were not — they did, in the strongest terms.

Here is the complete article.


Since we had so much fun discussing the original article, I thought I would bring up this rebuttle.

I also thought we would get into a discussion about Blacks and Class because of that Tuxedo Ball dustup on Black In America. I remember Dr. Myles from another documentary on Class - People Like Us.

And, how can we have a discussion on class without Jack and Jill.

Here's an article from Lawrence Otis Graham on the 70th Birthday of Jack and Jill.

Jack & Jill Turns 70

LAWRENCE OTIS GRAHAM reflects on the significance of the revered organization and why it's still important today


During my childhood, I believed that the only black kids who became successful adults were the ones who had grown up in Jack and Jill. No one had actually ever said this to me, but circumstances led me to this rather obnoxious conclusion. When I attended the 1974 Jack and Jill of America, Inc. convention in Los Angeles with my parents, I saw children of the hosting chapter being driven from the affluent hillside neighborhoods of View Park and Baldwin Hills in Cadillacs, Mercedes, and Rolls-Royces with "MD" and "DDS" license plates.

When I was a high school sophomore I met dozens of J&J teenagers at the annual Copacabana Christmas party in Manhattan who had already lined up summer internships on Wall Street. And when I moved into my freshman dormitory at Princeton, I wound up living across the courtyard from three Jack and Jillers, one of whom was the daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. I always had the sense that the J&J kids were not just well-heeled, but that they had life all figured out.

And Now...

This is why I have one answer for black friends who ask me today if they should try to get their kids into Jack and Jill: You're insane if you don't.

As a third-generation member of this great 70-year-old institutuion, I have six reasons why parents should want their children to be a part of this invitation-only service organization:
It exposes them to positive black experiences that build their self-esteem.
It brings them into a social network that will carry them from childhood to adulthood.
The J&J "Up the Hill" yearbook creates a great network for their college years.
You and your kids will get to meet the most accomplished blacks in your city.
J&J's charitable and social service programs will teach your kids how to give back to others who are less fortunate.
It sponsors academic and cultural activities that prepare children for the real world.

Rest of article at link above.


Liberal Arts Dude said...

Thanks for the link and article Rikyrah. The notion of class and how marginalized groups strategize to escape marginalized status in American society is something that has fascinated me for a very long time. Jack and Jill is an example of a terrific strategy that has stood the test of time and has measurable success. Is it really exclusive? I noticed that you said membership was by invitation only.

rikyrah said...

Jack and Jill:

1. Either you or your spouse belonged to Jack and Jill as children
2. You get sponsored (nominated) by someone already in Jack and Jill.

NO. They don't accept folks knocking on the door asking for an application.

This is the easy stuff.

Stories that I've heard about The Links and Boule would make you want to pop some popcorn to and listen to them.

Robert M said...

I read this article and know that I can get up and write the response was a bunch of crap. the elitism dripped from each commenters mouth like Darryl Jenks jeri curl. They reminded themselves of their heritage in occupations that have always been elite, dentists, doctors,lawyers. Few if any of them have ever run a business and really know what it is to be self made. Not a single one apologized for the ghetto girl crack.
PS You ever hear of Les Chaperones in Chicago? You burn a spliff and listening to them will straighten you out faster than a hot ccomb.

The Angry Independent said...

I can't stand a certain brand of elitism, especially from Black elites. They are often worse than White elites. The "i'm better than you" stuff just drips from these people.

It exposes them to positive black experiences that build their self-esteem.

Shouldn't the aim be to strive for this more generally? Why should membership to an elite group be required in order for Blacks to attain what are essentially good values? You don't have to be rich to teach your children good values. You don't have to be rich to teach the importance of education and hard work. And this is a group that most Black youth won't have access to anyway. So it does little in terms of impact.

Don't get me wrong... i'm all for the idea of the Talented Tenth being a good example for others. But there is a distinction between the two concepts - 1) The Talented Tenth (as more of a general concept) does not necessarily have to mean the rich/wealthy tenth. 2) The Talented Tenth is supposed to reach back in some meaningful way. 3) Jack & Jill et al is an exclusive/closed group... so the whole being a good example thing sort of goes out of the window.

On the contrary, Jack and Jill doesn't necessarily represent a good model for Blacks... no more than the Rap/Hip Hop culture does. In fact, these two cultural family trees have in many ways merged together...not to the benefit of Blacks or the Black image in this Country.

These people are in competition with one another for who has the biggest house, the nicest car, the best Golf gear and turn their noses up at working class folks.

I don't need em'. They annoy the Hell out of me. In fact, I would much rather deal with rich white folks than Blacks who are filthy rich and who turn their noses up even at other Blacks who are educated, semi-successful, and who have followed the script for getting to the American Dream...but whose dreams never came true or who realized that the American Dream itself is basically a farce and has been for years (like me). The American Dream is a joke.
Whites don't feel the need to throw their success in your face constantly... they don't have to.

I have generally put these folks in the same category as the NBA & NFL players, the rappers, Black Hollywood, etc... they all move in the same circles. It's all about the fast life and the mansion on a hill with the 4 car garage. They are generally folks who are concerned about themselves.

I was flipping through the channels just the other evening and ran across "Real Housewives of Atlanta". I couldn't stand to watch 10 minutes of it. These women represent everything that I don't want...and everything that I wouldn't want my daughter (if I had one) to become. I'd probably kill myself if my kid turned out like that. They represent a value system that I reject.

But it's all the same stuff (the intersection of Jack & Jill, Real Housewives, Hip Hop, Black Hollywood, and the Black Pro Sports Culture).

Disclaimer - not all of these folks are bad. But many of them are...and those who do fit this group are hard for me to tolerate for more than a few minutes. If I run across them socially (which I rarely do since i'm a hermit) but when I have... I usually will excuse myself or move on.