Pity The Rich--The Black Rich That Is

Bijan Bayne is miffed at the constant portrayal of blacks who vacation on Martha Vineyard as snobs:

As the first family heads to Martha's Vineyard for their first first-family vacation, the island is still all aflutter over cultural critic Touré's New York magazine feature characterizing black Vineyarders as a bunch of self-segregating snobs.

Blacks who make the island off the coast of Cape Cod their summer home have not felt this misunderstood since Lawrence Otis Graham's Our Kind of People cited intraracial class division and snobbishness, and name-dropped the rich and powerful. As a lifelong Vineyarder, I can tell you that neither writer captures the nuances of the island's appeal to black Americans. If you haven't been there before, you might think that black Vineyarders are all elitist, insensitive and economically monolithic. People bring their own perceptions and personal context to Martha's Vineyard.

You know me well--ain't nothing elite about the kid. But I'm actually really sympathetic to this argument. Part of the problem, I assume, is that most rich people--like most people--value their private lives. Moreover, I'm going to guess that most rich black people aren't particularly interested in looking like bougie Negroes. 

I suspect--though I do not know--that very few "elite blacks" were pleased with Graham's book, ostensibly an expose about the black upper-crust, which exposes the very little except the authors inability to get out of the way of his own snobbery. Ditto for the unnamed person who called Michelle Obama "ghetto" in Toure's article. If you're the sort of person who wants to talk publicly, or even anonymously, about who's "too ghetto" for Martha's Vineyard, the very fact that your talking probably makes you atypical.

I thought of that this weekend, when me and Kenyatta plowed through the first season of the The "Real Housewives" Of Atlanta. It's a very hard show to look away from--but it isn't what it claims, and if you're a real house-wife in that elite class in Atlanta, you probably wouldn't be on the show. As with Oaks Bluff, what you get instead is certain slice of your society talking, and it tends to be those who verify the stereotypes. I think the old saying fits well here--those know don't tell, those who tell don't know.