By Marley K.
(Author’s note: If it does not apply, let it fly. If the shoe fits, take it off!)
I’m all for Black people exercising their right and freedoms, and I’m all for Blacks supporting the best options for their lives. Lord knows the freedom to be is fleeting sometimes. I understand Black people must assimilate and code-switch to survive and eat in America. But I think we’ve allowed Black gatekeepers to act recklessly for far too long among us, masquerading as something other than what they really are, and that’s trouble. The more power and visibility they accrue, the more dangerous they become. We need to talk about Black gatekeepers (also known as progress blockers).
What Is A Gatekeeper
A gatekeeper is a metaphor used to describe a person who controls access to something. Most times, the gatekeeper doesn’t own the gate (s) he or she keeps. They are working for the owners of the gate. I should note it that not all gatekeepers are bad. I have worked as a gatekeeper for my bosses previously in management filtering unwanted traffic, screening calls and visitors and deciding to help my boss be more efficient while eliminating potential distractions. I never used my power for evil, or for my personal benefit. I did what they paid me to do, and gate keeping was a part of my job description.
Gatekeepers have the power to keep things and people in the loop, and they also can keep things and people out of it. They act as watchmen, interrogators of those trying to enter the gates, and judges to determine whether the certain folks should have the privilege to enter the gates they keep. Gatekeepers are dangerous people because of the power they possess.
They use their power and privilege to determine what messages we receive, and who should be admitted into sacred spaces. Gatekeepers also use their powers and privileges for their personal benefit to keep us out, especially in politics. Because of racism in America, Black people expect gate keeping everywhere, anywhere, and at any time. Black people are accustomed to White gatekeepers preventing us from voting, attending public school, going to college, getting jobs and promotions, managing and investing money/wealth, eating at restaurants, buying homes in certain neighborhoods, using bathrooms, or even shopping in stores. Gate keeping has no limits.
But when a Black person engages in gate keeping with us, or any person it’s especially egregious. Gatekeeping stops equality. The thought of a Black person (a descendant of slaves born in America) having the audacity to prevent Black people who desperately need help to get through those gates angers me to no end. There are many ways that these types of Blacks obstruct and block Black progress.
The Black, golden gatekeepers fitting this description do not differ from White Supremacists because they all have the same goal, and that’s shielding and protecting White power and White privilege. The proximity of gate keeping Blacks with power and privilege makes their lives easier and a little richer. It’s to their advantage to keep as few Blacks around as possible and to create misinformation campaigns to redirect us to alternatives which may not be the best advocates for us.
Gatekeeping happens all the time, especially politics. For instance, in my old home state of South Carolina, we’ve had a terrible time bringing about change because of gerrymandering and redistricting shenanigans. While Republicans are primarily responsible for our states rigged districts, Black Democratic leadership has helped. They did so because Republicans agreed to spare their districts ensuring they basically win their seats. They sell us down the river by a gatekeeper and most Black folks never give it a second thought.
Sometimes our own people will help commit crimes and unethical offenses against us for their personal gain. They are very dangerous and we don’t talk about these progress blockers enough.
Why Black Gatekeepers Are So Dangerous
Black gatekeepers have been dangerous to Black lives since slavery. Back during slavery times, there were two types of slaves, a house slave (also knows as house negro) and a field slave (also known as a field or outdoor negro). House slaves worked closely with their masters indoors and often had privileges field slaves did not have. House slaves were beat less, ate better, wore better clothing, often were required to beat, mistreat, and abused the field slaves to maintain their statuses as good house negroes. Black people have always helped White people uphold White Supremacy with gate keeping. Back in those days they didn’t have a choice, because we didn’t have rights. Today, Blacks do.
White Supremacy couldn’t work as intended without people of color helping to perpetuate it, and we cannot forget how big of an obstacle many Black gatekeepers have been to Black upward mobility.
We often forget the power Black gatekeepers still possess. We also forget we can’t trust all of our people. All skin folk aren’t kin folk.
Moving forward to modern times, Black folks are learning how we still play an important role in maintaining White Supremacy. There are no more houses and fields for slaves to labor over, and they have outlawed slavery. But the role of Blacks with higher status in our communities acting as gatekeepers for White Supremacy (house slaves) still lives on.
Black gatekeepers are everywhere. You may even work with one. He or she may be at the top of his/her organization, and they’ll refuse to allow anyone else to join them. Apply for a promotion knowing full well you’re the best person for the job, and the Black gatekeeper will deny your promotion, giving the position to your White co-worker who has fewer qualifications, comes in late, or does zero work. For some gatekeepers, their rationale is they can’t give the appearance you’re trying to help Black people move up. For others, it’s they like being at the top alone, and they will allow no one near their top spot. They’ll do anything they can to keep other Blacks at bay. White Supremacy wins again.
Black gatekeepers are everywhere and they have many jobs, titles, and professions to protect their status while circling the wagons for White supremacy.
These blockers are in the media, in federal, state, and local governments, in banking, in church leadership roles, on social media with living their best life with earned and un-earned privileges, in the nonprofit sector, in music and entertainment industries, in politics, education, community policing, and so forth. Somehow, these people make it to the mountain top, and forget about others. The close the doors, pull up the drawbridges, and drop the rope so we can’t climb up behind them.
Black gatekeepers are dangerous to Black communities because of the how they operate. They will spread misinformation, undermine our loose movements, spy for our opposition, and they will even work to convince us our needs are not real needs. Black gatekeepers working in concert with White Supremacy will even work to silence us. It happens with mainstream media (MSM) all the time. Because we don’t have legitimate Black owned, Black operated television networks and news sources, White mainstream media will use Black gatekeepers to misinform, delegitimize, ignore, and aid the gate owners to confuse and discourage Black consumers.
Too many Black gatekeepers are agents of chaos. They are huge problems on social media. It’s hard to know who to follow and associate with these days thanks to gatekeeping.
We must be cognizant of our gatekeepers at all times, and we must never tire of calling them out. Gatekeepers may look like us, dress like us, talk like us, and may even make moves which appear they are working to make things better for our communities, but they are ops (opposing groups) and sometimes they even act as police and mediators on behalf of White Supremacy.
Some gatekeepers are rich (like Jay Z), or old politicians who have served an extremely long time in an extremely gerrymandered district like Rep. James Clyburn (SC), a do-nothing, self-dealing Black mayor, that smiling in your face-stabbing you in your back nonprofit CEO, the crooked local community clergy, or your corrupt Black city and county representatives. They continue getting elected by the citizens and continue doing nothing while getting their paychecks.
When we allow Black gatekeepers to steal, derail, block our plans, and stop progress, we lose. As we near the 2020 election, I see lots of gatekeepers working to keep Black voters confused, dejected, hopeless, and misinformed. Don’t buy it.
Black people are not a monolith, so I don’t expect us all to agree on everything. We can all agree gatekeepers exist and they often agents of chaos. As the election season rolls around, pay attention to every word, and every action of Blacks in charge of bring us messages. Verify their words, research who sponsors or pays them, and question their motives. Please do your own research, keeping in mind their slants may be a requirement to keeping their jobs and paychecks as gatekeepers. Also remember what’s happening nationally may not impact you locally. Their urgency may be a manufactured crisis. Their apathy could be a threat to your life. Be cognizant of the enemies within.
Lastly, understand gatekeepers have a job to do. We can make it easy for them, or we can make it hard. Don’t allow Black people to discourage us just because we both are Black. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the highest hopes for some Black people in high and visible places, only to be let down because they showed me they were gatekeeping for White Supremacy. It’s a real kick in the gut.
White people aren’t the only ones who can be dangers to Black lives, progress blockers, and agents of chaos. Black gatekeepers for White Supremacy can be just as dangerous if not more so to our physical, mental, financial, emotional health and well-being.
Slavery may be over, but gatekeeping house slaves are alive and well. As America appears to be moving backwards, it’s time we remember our national history. Throughout history there have been Black folks who have sold us out and let us down. These times will be no different.
©2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.