TV Club: Luke Cage avoids respectability politics, goes for emotion

Most conversations about blackness somehow end up being centered on black-on-black crime. However, the conversation about black-on-black crime is not always about black-on-black crime. It’s about a standard of behavior. It’s about setting the bar for compassion and sympathy for black lives. It inevitably ends up a discussion that’s steeped in respectability politics. So when the first details about the plot of Luke Cage were trickling out and it was revealed the show was going to deal with the issue of black-on-black crime, I rolled my eyes hard.

Many viewers are reacting to the show as if it’s a meditation on respectability politics. Watching this episode, however, I couldn’t help but wonder when does wanting respect turn into respectability politics? I don’t think the lessons in this episode are meant to shame black folk into obedience. This episode teaches what it means for these …

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