Brittney Cooper, Non-Disrespectability Towards A Ratchet Black Feminism

1012 Words 5 Pages
No other event would be more uncomfortable, and that was why this one was perfect. A white, middle-class male attending a feminist African American event based around promoting the disrespectability of African American women towards white male figures in power. As the clock struck six, Dr. Brittney Cooper stepped onto the stage and opened her presentation, entitled Dis-Respectability: Towards A Ratchet Black Feminism. Nearly every other white male in the room seemed to visibly squirm in their seat. However, what followed was not a ninety-minute presentation on why white males need to be disrespected, but an enlightening dialogue about the failed efforts of African Americans to conform to white social constructs. This presentation, peppered …show more content…
Cooper proposes a “disrespectability complex” instead. In Cooper’s words, this would be a construct which “disses and dismisses respectability by acting as an act of defiance to social conformity.” This form of acting would be a more effective action for African Americans since it would not force people to assign value to people who are more or less respectable in the eyes of white people. The very act of saying that someone is or is not respectable binds them under the constructs that white society has invoked, thus ensuring that true equality and respect can never be reached since African Americans will always be compared to whites, especially as lesser counterparts. By proposing this mindset, Cooper proposes that African Americans go all out in their disrespectability, so much so that they would be considered ratchet. Ratchet, as Cooper defines it, is similar to being ghetto in that a negatively perceived social norm for African Americans is reached. However, it greatly differs in concern to how this perception is received by the person being judged. Ghetto has a type of self-consciousness to it, whereas ratchet-ness “just doesn’t give a fuck” about what other’s think. This action of being as “extra” as possible challenges the power structure of respectability, because it simply doesn’t care about where others place it on the respectability spectrum. This defiance would ultimately force those who judge to stop, since African Americans simply could not be …show more content…
Cooper that the system of respectability which African Americans have attempted to implement to gain social equality and respect has failed. To continue to pursue this mission with the same approach would be foolish. However, I believe more firmly that civil unrest and peaceful protest will be the driving force of change, as the history of change in the United States is built upon such activities like the March on Washington and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. To suggest that only the disrespect of white authoritarians by blacks as individuals would provide social equality is an ineffective strategy. What would be a more successful force would be to unify African Americans behind such unrest in order to inspire this change. My initial instinct, before viewing the entirety of the talk, was that such an attempt to change African American social norms would be entirely ineffective in the fight for social equality. However, after engaging in Cooper’s presentation, I understand the cultural and social significance behind inspiring such “ratchet” nature. I believe the point of promoting such behavior would allow African Americans to break out of the chains of respectable social conformity that has been thrust upon them, and allow them to be true to their cultural and social nature. Without breaking these proverbial chains and freeing African Americans from the

Related Documents

Related Topics