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.
(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.”