What Black People Think of Blacks, What White Folks Think of Blacks
We are living in odd times. What constitutes a cutting racial remark? Should every reference to skin color make us cringe? What about stereotypes? Should every racial allusion by a white person be met with anger and every enactment of a black stereotype be overlooked?
These questions are too hard to deduce on a Monday.
First off we have Senator Harry Reid’s comment about Barack Obama being palatable to white voters because of his light skin and the lack of black slang in his speech. I read people calling it “racially tinged” but really, it’s not racist. I’m not really sure who it’s a slam against: white voters who are unable to accept a black candidate unless the skin color is close to their own. Or was he really taking a swipe at blacks who can only proffer light skinned candidates to get their foot in the door (now where in history have I seen that?).
Republicans are calling the remarks racist, with Michael Steele leading the way. “There is this standard where Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own,” Steele said to “Fox News Sunday.” “But if it comes from anyone else, it is racism.”
This of course, is highly entertaining, since Steele’s own view of his fellow African Americans comes across as minstrelsy. He seems to think that to be black one must “be down” and although he hasn’t explicitly said what it was it seems to follow closely to the Hip Hop male posturing and eating soul food.
I guess if we really want to know what it’s like to be black we should ask a white guy who is an ex-politic cum media whore. According to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich being black means growing up poor, and I guess like him, have a tendency to hustle folks.
“I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived,” Blagojevich said. “I saw it all growing up.”
Of the three I find Blago and Steele a lot more offensive than Reid. In Reid’s America white folks are apprehensive about the black folks that Blago and Steele claims make up the black community. Hell, I’d be afraid of them, too. Blago thinks all blacks are poor and probably on the take like his ass. Then with Steele we have Kermit the frog frontin’ like he’s 50 Cent.
Damn, how many times can we say this: blacks are not a monolithic group. We all didn’t grow up poor with single mothers in the hood and for those of us who did we all don’t sit around eating fried chicken trying to get over on the system. For many people black people are nothing but caricatures that can be summed up by watching a weeks worth of BET.
My black is deep and expansive; it covers all and reaches wide. It can’t be held in a box, it cannot be contained. Just like we come in cafe au lait to deep purplish brown so are we also gang members and judges. We are the mother of many and childless. We are rich and we are poor. Any one who speaks for us is only a ripple is the loud throng of voices that tells different stories.
But, Lord knows, someone always has to try:
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