For example, the second black mayor of St Louis, Clarence Harmon, a Democrat, was called a “rented Negro” before his election in 1997. He was also called the “white man’s candidate” and a “race traitor”. He was seen as serving the interests of whites over those of blacks for his own political gain.
The black talking heads you see on American television news are mostly Rented Negroes: unlike most blacks few are to the left. That cannot be an accident. In the blogosphere you can see the black left in all its glory – but on television it is strangely absent.
Well, not so strangely when you think about it: unlike the blogosphere, nearly everything you see on television was put there by white men, by white news editors, producers, screenwriters and so on. Even BET is white-owned.
That means blacks who pretty much agree with whites – or, even worse, play to their stereotypes – will have a much easier time getting on television than those who do not. So even though you see black faces on television, it is still pretty much the World According to White People.
And you know this because every now and then something breaks through the White Space-Time Continuum that is American television: Rodney King, Katrina, Reverend Wright, Michelle Obama’s pride, etc. Briefly you see into another world before the break in the Continuum closes up again and the Rented Negroes resume their places.
Rented Negroes can be on the left, like Harmon, or on the right, like Alan Keyes. It is not the opinions that make you rented but renting them to white people for their benefit, giving them a black face to hide behind.
Are Rented Negroes sell-outs?
Some clearly are, like Amy Holmes and Booker T. Washington, who changed their public opinions to suit whites.
Others, though, did not have to change their opinion. After all, blacks have all kinds of opinions just like everyone else, so some are bound to have Rentable Opinions – like Juan Williams, Clarence Thomas, John McWhorter and Alan Keyes. And yet they cannot be so unworldly as to not see that they are rented.
As to Booker T. Washington, he did not openly push for equal rights, even though most blacks could not vote. He did not push for an end to Jim Crow, even though blacks were being hanged from trees. Instead he said blacks must first pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Education, hard work, saving money and patience were the way.
That was just what white people thought too! Like the rich white people who gave money to his school, Tuskegee.
So did Washington truly believe what he was saying or was he a bought man? We have his private letters so now we know the answer: he was bought.
– Abagond, 2010.
- house Negro – blacks who kiss up to whites. They may or may not be used as Rented Negroes
- damali ayo – makes fun of rented Negroes
- The white lens
- native informant – how Rented Negro are often seen
- Blacks according to American television
- Zora Neale Hurston: What White Publishers Won’t Print