Oak Bluffs Residents Bite Back At Toure’s New York Mag Story

And they said that wasn’t THEIR lives at Martha’s Vineyard writer Toure was penning for New York Magazine last month. In the article he talked about black self-segregation and how some residents of Oak Bluffs and Martha’s Vineyard wouldn’t be interested in the First Family because the Obamas were “off the people” and Michelle Obama was a “ghetto girl.” Stay classy, that one.

Well, naturally not everyone in Oak Bluffs was pleased with how Toure portrayed their little hamlet.

More after the jump.

(T)he overwhelming view of a large number of Island residents, seasonal and year-round, black and white, is that the piece, published June 21 under the headline Black and White on Martha’s Vineyard, was desperately unfair and wrong.

Thus Abigail McGrath, of Oak Bluffs, drafted a letter of response to the magazine and circulated it among her Island friends for their signatures.

It was quite a letter.

“My family has lived on the Vineyard for seven generations and I don’t recognize MY Vineyard in the article, Black and White on the Vineyard, written by Mr. Touré,” she began, then went on to condemn its “appalling inaccuracies which misrepresent the Island in a divisive way.”

She went on to bet “a free week in my Oak Bluffs house” that if the author were to interview any of the “heavyweight” blacks mentioned in the piece, “not to mention many whites, residents and visitors, each would question the accuracy of this article.”

And indeed this week when the Gazette contacted some of the people mentioned in the article — and others who were not — they did, in the strongest terms.

Now McGrath did admit that some folks were a tad more exclusive than others, (pointing out the self-segregation) but that shouldn’t be indicative of the whole. She mainly charged that this was a “hit piece” meant to slam black people of means. Others agreed.

Elizabeth Gates, daughter of Henry Louis (“Skip”) Gates Jr. and a writer for the Daily Beast, said Touré’s article presented an “archaic, separatist ideology” which no longer applied, if it ever did. “Being rich is not reserved for white people. There is not a small group of black people anymore who are making money.

“A lot of the people Touré interviewed seemed to be wrapped up in that glorified, ‘We’ve slipped through the cracks’ kind of ideology that our parents’ parents had to survive with.

“But it doesn’t exist anymore.”

However she, too, expressed concern about black classism.

“I hate that Jack and Jill Club mentality that some people have,” she said, explaining: “Jack and Jill is essentially a mothers’ club and it is elitist. You have to be voted in, and it’s supposed to be for black families that make over a certain income. It’s basically just another little self-segregation pool, which perpetuates that whole crabs-in-a-barrel, no we’re not going to support each other, paper bag club type of ideology. It’s awful, really awful . . . I hate that our community gets branded like.”

Read the whole article here.

11 thoughts on “Oak Bluffs Residents Bite Back At Toure’s New York Mag Story

  1. I’m confused.The whole point of Jack and Jill and Tuxedo Balls, etc…..is to continue the dynasty so to speak. To make sure their kids make the right connections, have access to the right people, meet what will be their future husbands/wives.Why wouldn’t they be exclusive.If they let everybody in they would lose the exclusivity and might have to start sharing their (limited) power with everyone else. Many of these organizations were born out of exclusivity, (and yes colorism) in the past…I’m not sure why some folk are now crying that it’s classicist now>Smacks of people who usually don’t have a light shone on them not liking what was said when one was.I’m not sure that makes the original piece wrong, just not the image they want portrayed to the world.

  2. I call *probable* bullshit on 7 generations in MV. Seven generations ago was slavery. FOH. Maybe 5. Likey 4. Certainly 3. 7? Seven? Seh’em? Nah, chill.

  3. @Scipio Africanus It is possible that they could have lived there for 7 generations. Slavery in the north ended before the south and even then…their were free Black people at the time.

  4. @thelazzyone. That’s why I said probable. Actually, you know what, I’ll take her at her word. But I’ll say that even among many of the inveterate families there, you’re not going to find that many people with 7 generations in.

  5. @Scipio Africanus I agree with you. It wouldn’t be that many that would have that.

  6. I wish people would stop attacking Jack and Jill. There is nothing wrong with J and J, period.

  7. There’s nothing wrong with Jack and Jill the organization specifically. But the same women who run it aren’t running out to provide some of the same opportunities to middle and lower class kids who need etiquette training and polishing. To exclude me or determine I’m not worthy to be a debutante because my parents’ paychecks don’t have enough zeros in it does nothing to advance the cause of upper class blacks, who as Skip Gates will tell you, are not free from the discrimination we all face.

  8. I don’t know if it matters, but Touré gave the piece a big disservice because he knows about this lifestyle because he has lived an exclusive upbringing. Maybe he’s just attempting to "keep it real" for the readers or appear more relevant. Everyone knows that we practice self-segregation, this is nothing new, we see it at any social setting we attend.

  9. What Elizabeth Gains said about the J & J club "mentailty" is right on and that goes for some of the college sorority groups as well. Colorism and classism , within our own blackness are like race issues in a broader view, very subtle; even with our own we need pay close attention for we, in my opinion, have learned this subtleness and use it to seperate ourselves. I don’t think the MV residents are that surprised by what was said.

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