When audiences finished the Oscar-winning film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, there was one particular scene that stuck in everyone’s minds: the moment Miles Morales officially became Spider-Man. After many minutes of self-doubt, Miles finally took a leap of faith and we all realized he wasn’t falling, but flying.
This shot right here:
That happened on December 14, 2018—the date of the film’s wide release in theaters.
On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the complete reverse occurred to the very person who voices the beloved animated Miles—Shameik Moore. Instead of flying, he was falling (flailing, even)...deeper and deeper into the abyss of respectability politics. And he got caught in the web of the lies black folks tell themselves.
“We have to work on our community before blaming everything on “racist” and police,” Shameik began on his Twitter account. “1... there is STILL black on black violence that needs to be addressed... and 2.. if we KNOW that the wrong white person could change our whole life with a false accusation...”
If reviving the trite and debunked argument of black-on-black crime wasn’t enough, he doubled down writing, “Look...all I’m saying is...in the MOMENT...when we are experiencing racism..can we the black community find ways to avoid being killed? Or hunted.”
In a subsequent series of tweets, he assured his followers that all of his critics were taking him “out of context,” despite providing three more chapters of context, all of which dug him deeper into a misguided (as) hell-hole.
Typically, I would reach out to a celebrity’s team for comment, but that’s a useless gesture since Shameik directly stated that he had chosen to go against the very team he probably pays pretty handsomely to mitigate these situations.
And if things hadn’t already gone horribly awry, he brought up Rosa Parks in his Instagram Live Session, insinuating that she should’ve taken a black-owned cab instead of making the historic sit-down protest she made on the bus.
Respectability politics has been proven time and time again to be a faulty (and downright useless and dangerous, at this point) method. No matter how many different ways we show up with an “honorable” resume of attributes, the right and respectable attire, or the disciplined protocol with which to address police, my people end up at the same morbid destination. All of those benefits of the doubt are strictly reserved for those afforded the label of basic humanity (oh, and for domestic pets and zoo-kept animals, too).
It didn’t work during the most-cited (and respectively dressed) peaceful protest in American history. It didn’t work when one man followed textbook protocol to comply with the police. It definitely wouldn’t have worked if this guy chose the respectable route. It didn’t even fucking work for a fucking cop.
We’re way past that.
And for this type of rhetoric to come merely a few hours before witnessing an uprising that has been boiling for years was a sobering sense of cosmic timing.
What happened with Shameik can be summarized by the first five letters of his name—a damn “shame.” It’s a damn shame that, at 25 years old, he is both young and old enough to have lived in an era where he has been bombarded with an array of visual proof on social media and beyond that immediately contradicts his assertion. And yet, he is so deafened by the cacophony of his own ego, he doesn’t hear us, though.
No matter your age, the first step to growing and learning is listening. Maybe then, he’ll truly get some fucking Spidey sense.