Thursday, April 09, 2020

Blacks Truly Do Hate Ni**ers - But "Black Privilege" Is As Preoposterous As "Gynocracy"

wsws |  Intended as a pilot for a potential full-length series, Black & Privileged is set in a neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Upon its July release on Netflix, the film reached the top 10 most-viewed list on the streaming platform and has been featured prominently at a number of award ceremonies focused on African-American filmmaking.

While in reality a seriously impoverished community, the fictionalized version of Englewood in Black & Privileged is a well-off neighborhood whose residents are mostly upper-middle class African-American businessmen and women. One of the film’s central characters explains, in regard to the neighborhood’s composition, “We searched through the city of Chicago for folks who not only cared about this community, but they cared about the people. And they had to understand the value of money. So yes, we have our own schools, we have our own banks, we hired our own police force.”

In Harris’s film, the lives of Englewood’s happy residents are disrupted when a nearby housing project is torn down, causing low-income blacks to turn up in the wealthy gated community. This sets off an existential crisis among the well-heeled African Americans.

“If this happens, like, everybody’s going to leave—the doctors, the lawyers, entrepreneurs like myself … They’re all gone,” warns Eldon (Hendrix), on learning the unsettling news. The prosperous, self-deluded denizens of Engelwood ludicrously choose to interpret the influx of lower-income people as a scheme hatched by the “the [white] man” to break up their idyllic community.

Black and Privileged is at its best when it skewers the self-righteousness and hypocrisy of these layers. Another main character, Dawn (Halfkenny), initially supportive of the new neighbors, quotes W.E.B. DuBois: “To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” She insists it is the community’s job to lend a “helping hand” to these poor souls. Her enthusiasm turns to panic and hostility overnight, however, when she discovers her new neighbors “standing in the middle of the street drinking 40-ouncers.” Dawn demands that her husband (Henderson) call the police on the new residents!