What do Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama have in common? There both were first. Both first opened a door that was previously locked tight. The first Black player in the Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1947 for Robinson and obviously the first Black president for Obama. Amazing achievements. We already know that 5 years after Jackie Robinson first game in the MLB, hundreds of other Blacks player were in the league. Jackie Robinson opened the door. What we do not know yet is if the door will remain open after Obama. I do hope there will be many more Black presidents. But maybe not because of moral licensing.
You guessed it by now. This post is more about understand a situation that impacts Black people and I believe is critical to understand to get what you deserve.
Back to moral licensing. This is when people in power – read my previous blog post to understand who I am talking about – after doing something that is morally right, feel better about themselves but to go back to their old habits in a heartbeat. It is like I did a good deed and it excuses all my bad behaviours for the next decade. We all experienced it at some point. This is similar to people saying “I am not a racist, one of my friend is Black”.
Moral licensing is a beautifully sadistic way to control people. Build a door, let the people you like come in all the time, and let a tiny fraction of the people you do not like get in once in a generation. It reminds me of “exclusive” night clubs in NYC, LA, Paris or London. No line, just a crowd of people all over the entrance. The bouncer picks from the crowd the people going in. You see people going in, so there is hope. And at the same time, nobody tells you no you will not get in, so you can’t get really mad. Hope that you may be the lucky one. We all know how that story ends. You do not get into the club.
I do not know how to keep the door open, other than becoming the owner of the door, building our own doors or even breaking them for good.