On the heels of an escalating divide between several NFL members and President Trump, an essay published in the New Yorker, titled, “From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful as the New Uppity,” is trending on Twitter. And most who are sharing it are in praise of the piece.
Written by frequent New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb, also a professor at Columbia University, the essay outlines a long history of African American entertainers who have been condemned as “uppity” for their own success, arguing that “ungrateful” is the modern equivalent of the aforementioned euphemism.
Cobb began with an anecdote about jazz icon Louis Armstrong, who was painted as “uppity” for responding to political news of the day. The singer called Arkansas governor Orval Faubus a “motherf—–” for allowing the National Guard to stop nine African American high school students from attending class.
Cobb pointed to “the free-range lunacy” of Donald Trump’s speech at a rally in Alabama on Friday, where he called Colin Kaepernick, and other NFL players who protest police brutality during the National Anthem before games, a “son of a b—-.” This, along with Trump’s rescinding the invitation of the Golden State Warriors to the White House — “like a truculent six-year-old” — “illustrates that the passage of six decades has not dimmed this dynamic confronted by Armstrong, or by any prominent black person tasked with the entertainment of millions of white ones.”
Cobb argued, “ungrateful is the new uppity.”
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“The belief endures, from Armstrong’s time and before, that visible, affluent African-American entertainers are obliged to adopt a pose of ceaseless gratitude — appreciation for the waiver that spared them the low status of so many others of their kind,” Cobb wrote.
Indeed, in Donald Trump’s weekend criticism of players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem, he said their “privilege” to play in the NFL should be revoked if they protest.
“It’s impossible not to be struck by Trump’s selective patriotism,” Cobb wrote. “It drives him to curse at black football players but leaves him struggling to create false equivalence between Nazis and anti-Fascists in Charlottesville.”
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“He cannot tolerate the dissent against literal flag-waving but screams indignation at the thought of removing monuments to the Confederacy, which attempted to revoke the authority symbolized by that same flag,” Cobb continued in his essay. “He is the vector of the racial id of the class of Americans who sent death threats to Louis Armstrong, the people who necessitated the presence of a newly federalized National Guard to defend black students seeking to integrate a public school. He contains multitudes — all of them dangerously ignorant.”
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“Trump yet again found a novel way to diminish the nation he purportedly leads,” Cobb added. “He has authored danger in more ways than there are novel ways to denounce it.”
“Trump, we will assuredly understand, is a small man with a fetish for the symbols of democracy and a bottomless hostility for the actual practice of it,” Cobb concluded.
See what people are saying about Cobb’s piece:
[email protected] is the voice I've been waiting for on this. He writes about ungrateful as the new uppity. https://t.co/uqfvzCvWbf
— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) September 24, 2017
“He contains multitudes—all of them dangerously ignorant.” —@jelani9 on Trump’s ugly weekend https://t.co/i5oKoadsdA
— Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch) September 25, 2017
This is required reading. My colleague Jelani Cobb (@jelani9) beautifully expresses in this piece the feelings of… https://t.co/SbIpi0YPBA
— Carl Hart (@drcarlhart) September 25, 2017
I can't count the times I've been called "arrogant" for being smart, confident, and brown at the same time: "Ungrateful as the New Uppity"
— Julian Rai (@JulianRai) September 25, 2017
"Ungrateful as the New Uppity" exists because slavery was removed from American law, but not from American thinking
— 1legaleagle19 (@1legaleagle19) September 25, 2017
It takes bravery to have something to lose and protest injustice like Kaepernick is doing. He's a patriot. "Ungrateful as the New Uppity"
— LadyL (@LadyLecondoliak) September 25, 2017
I've never heard anyone criticize hedge fund managers for being ungrateful.
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) September 24, 2017
I don’t know if Kaepernick will ever play another game in the NFL but I’m certain today was the day that guaranteed a film about his life.
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) September 25, 2017
Kaepernick has set the terms of a convo that powerful people managed to ignore for years. Today looked like a climactic scene in a biopic.
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) September 25, 2017
You can read the full essay here.
Related stories from TheWrap:Former NFL Star Matt Light Rips Players for Anthem Protests: ‘Ashamed to Be a Patriot’Tom Brady Calls Trump’s NFL Player Protest Remarks ‘Divisive’ (Audio)’Fox & Friends’ Host Brian Kilmeade Slams Trump’s NFL Attacks: ‘Made Things So Much Worse’Bob Costas Says Trump’s ‘Insulting’ NFL Comments Prompted ‘Near Universal Disgust’ (Video)
Source: The Wrap