I have always hated the idea that black people were our own worst enemy, even before I did the unlearning of imperialist thinking that made us believe that in the first place. The Crabs in a Barrel trope is one that can ring very true for interpersonal relationships but it falls short as systemic analysis tool in the framework many black people use when they are referencing this idea/ metaphor. Many people apply it to both and say that because they have issues within their interpersonal relationships with black people, that means that there is no racism and that our real issues are just with each other. Obviously this is reductive, misguided, uneducated, dismissive, and, above all else, UNTRUE.
Black people are not our own worst enemy. We never have been. We never could be. So, today I am revisiting a post I wrote in 2016 on Facebook where I unpacked the idea of "Crabs in a Barrel". Upon reviewing and sitting on it I found that the trope was actually very accurate as a descriptor of black people in America- specifically those of us that are the descendants of kidnapped Africans- but that it was not accurate for any of the reasons that we were taught.
"Crabs in a barrel is actually a perfect analogy for the black community but not for any of the reasons you think
1. The natural habitat of the crab is not a barrel. They were captured and forced to be there.
2. The crabs are disoriented and thus must take on new behaviors- some dysfunctional- for survival.
3. The crabs don't intend to bring each other down. They latch on to each other hoping to go over the edge as well. They don't realize the weight of them all is bringing the leader down until it's too late. They don't realize that distributing the weight evenly would be the best way to get everyone out
4. Crabs that do succeed in making it out of the barrel never come back to help- they only return if they're captured and forced there again.
So yea. It's a great analogy. Just not for any of the reasons you've been taught. The crabs aren't each other's worst enemy and neither are black people each other's worst enemy. The enemy is the fisherman and the barrel he put us in. The crabs are just misguided."
Everyone notes the behaviors of the crabs in that barrel. No one notes that they were forced to be there for the consumption of people with no concern for their health, safety, progression, or lives. Black people- it is time we break the barrel, and focus on the real enemies and threats to our person-hoods. Who are our fishermen?
Why do we view crabs in a barrel as one being pulled down instead of several desiring to be pulled up? Crabs are not highly intelligent creatures but we, as humans, are. We can answer these questions, but we are too focused on attacking and blaming each other for our circumstances when none of us had control over the barrel that we were placed in, the barrel we didn't belong in, the barrel we don't own. Our barrel is mental. Our fishermen are not. Resist the real enemies.
There is an intimate and dangerous relationship between slut shaming and rape culture. Rape culture is defined as a society whose attitudes have the prevailing effect of normalizing or minimizing sexual abuse and assault. Slut shaming is the act of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in consensual sexual relations. The two go hand in hand. A society where a woman is penalized for saying yes is a society where a woman has to give half yesses for sexual acts that she actually desires. A society where a woman’s body is seen as a consumable that belongs to a man is a society where she cannot say no without fear. In this society, women are penalized both for saying yes and for saying no- effectively rendering her agency, autonomy, and voice in between unheard and yelled over... never listened to.
This grey area does not protect women, it protects abusers and I theorize that this was exactly the goal. Sexism was not erected with the intentions of keeping girls and women safe or honoring their voices. Sexism was erected as a system with the specific goals of keeping women in check by making sure that all of the land and power was under the control of men.
Sexism and all of its children- homophobia, transphobia, slut shaming, misogyny, gender roles, rape culture, and toxic masculinity/ femininity- need to die. Sexism is un-African. Give it back.
Since police proponents want “Blue Lives” to be a thing, let’s treat police like a cultural demographic.
Police are probably about .03% of the population (1.1 million) but, on average (with incomplete data because no one is really tracking this) murder almost 1000 people per year.
Wouldn't this make police the most violent murderous group in our country per capita?
People ask “What about black on black crime?” When there’s 13 million black people in America and about 5k homicides attributed to black people. This means black people are less violent than police- even though police are less likely to be dealing with the same economic insecurity (most intracommunal violence in afam communities is directly linked to poverty). The stats say that police are almost three times as violent as black people and three likely to be murdered as well (.0003% for black people and .0001 for officers based on a population of about 13 million and homicide victims at a rate of about 5k per year and officers at 1.1 million and murders of officers in 2017 at 143).
What about “Blue on everyone else” crime?
If black culture is inherently flawed because of crime rates- what about BLUE culture?