Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

Black, White, Man, Or Woman?


All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men is a phrase you often hear by womanists (Black feminists) to help explain why many Black women may have felt left out by both the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. Basically, Black men and White women took priority in those respective movements, practically leaving Black women sociopolitically invisible.

That quote has always resonated with me for another reason, though. It perfectly encapsulates how a person could be physically Black or White or a Man or a Woman, but considered by most to be something else politically. Basically, while they’ll always maintain their physical attributes, they’ll be treated and regarded as something else. For instance, from a physical perspective, Clarence Thomas is undeniably and unambiguously Black. But, because of his political history, his conservatism, his treatment of Anita Hill, and his White wife, he’s considered by many to be “White.”

I thought of this yesterday while trying to grasp the way some people felt about Chris Dorner, and how he’s a perfect example of how arbitrary these definitions tend to be.

Here was a man who, like Thomas, was undeniably Black. I see a Chris Dorner doppleganger every week. He sells oils and bootleg pornos outside of my barbershop. Joining the police force, though, meant—for many of us—that he’d no longer be a Black man, but Blue. And, if you’re Blue, you’re actually White.

But, when he got fired and retaliated against the (White) establishment, he became Black again.

Anyway, Thomas and Dormer are just two prominent examples of this phenomenon  Here’s a few more.

(Note, no categories are named for Latinos, Asians, and Indians because, well, it’s America and only Black and White matter)

Black man: Black

Black woman: Black

Black man with White wife: White

Black woman with White husband: Still Black to everyone but Black men

White man with Black wife: Kinda Black, actually

White man with White Wife but very Black-friendly politics and opinions: First Black president

White woman with Black husband: White woman!

Single White woman with very Black-friendly politics and opinions: Still White woman

White woman genuinely down for the cause: Good try, but always and forever a White woman

White woman who’s not even technically a White woman: I see your White ass. You can’t hide

Black male politician: Hmm. Depends.

Liberal Black male politician: Black

Liberal Black male politician with White wife: Still Black, but barely

Conservative Black male politician: Is he Colin Powell? No. White, then.

Gay Black man: Woman

Gay White man: White

Bisexual Black man: Woman

Straight Black man who did one (slightly) homosexual act 15 years ago: WOMAN! Stop playin!

Black lesbian: Is she cute? Kinda, but not really. Man

White lesbian: I have no clue

Poor White people: Where are they from? Actually, nevermind. That doesn’t matter. Still White

Poor Black people: Blacker than the back of Forest Whitaker’s neck

Poor Black woman: Black Man

Wealthy Black people: Need more info

Wealthy Black people from Atlanta or the DMV: Black

Wealthy Black people from anywhere else: Still Black, but barely

Black male cop: White Man

Black female cop: White Man

Black male or Black female cop on The Wire: Well, although those were completely fictional characters that didn’t actually exist and not real people, they were nuanced portrayals of real people. Therefore, while all Black cops in real life are White devils, Black male or Black female cop on The Wire: Black man and Black woman

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Tx10inch

    White male born with re-vitiligo: Uncle Ruckus

    • Yoles

      ha! :D

  • Tx10inch

    Say it ain’t so…Thirsty Firsty?

    • Breezy

      No its actually Thirsty Thursday.

    • Sweet GA Brown

      …it aint so….

      • Tx10inch

        Wrooong. I WAS first to tha mountaintop..

    • YeahSo

      thirsty firsty lmao

  • Malik

    A Black man and white wife isn’t white considering how long Black men have openly thirsted for white women while still being pro-Black (facade or otherwise).

    • Val

      That’s a long list.

    • Rewind

      Depends on the man and his wife. This basic idea is he’s heavily in the White world in one way or the other. Black guy who’s suave but still keeps hood roots no matter what kind of White woman he dates? Black.

      • Ms. Bridget

        I’m looking at you Ice T.

        • Britico Chick

          really? i am still shocked that ice t hooked up with coco. in fact, i just don’t get it. i’m not an ice t fan, but when you think of the feel of his lyrics back in the day, there is no way in hell at all, you would have thought his wife would end up being a white woman who doesn’t seem to have the slightest hint of a pro black agenda

          or did i miss her politicking somewhere? (this is based on my fleeting observations of ice loves coco on the e channel in the UK)

          • Tippydoowop

            Naw he ice black…coco proves this

  • Yoles

    i am not sure if the appropriate response is to say how we see ourselves oh well here i go…

    i hope to not be ostracized or black card revoked but in my personal life i see myself as:

    Female first, from my chromosomes and DNA, my genetics, my saliva or hair strand.

    Fat second, i swear to God i have had more direct effect on my life and interactions with people based on my weight than my race. I am fat from the back, from the distance, in silhouette at sunset, if in a burka and hijab still fat.

    black third, i just am, i honestly don’t think that much about it, maybe i have been sheltered or blind. it is part of who i am definitely but i feel like it does not define me

    • IcePrincess3

      Dude your not that fat. Not from your pic anyway. I think ur cute. F* ck dem haters yolie!

      • Yoles

        aww thx IP… i’d LOVE to see pics of you (hint-hint) ;)

    • Val

      I’ve seen pics of you Yolie, you’re not fat.

      • Yoles

        oh Val its all angles and positioning and being proportioned while wearing girdles… i am definitely fat.. ask Malik, Todd, Rewind, WIP or Esa.. aint no oh she is just chubby about me…

        • “Fat” Black woman – thick

          “Fat” White woman – White and/ or perfect for Black man (heh heh)

          Women in LA over 120 lbs = all fat

          “Fat” Yolie – beautiful


          • Todd

            “Fat” White woman – White and/ or perfect for Black man (heh heh)

            Funny, because it’s true. Both because some brothers are desperate to have any sort of White chick on their arm, and White dudes go HARD in the paint on some weight ish. I’ve seen it myself. It’s hilarious.

            • It’s so true….never seen a white man look twice at the brother with chick built like Adele

              • Breezy

                LMBO…where do you come up with these things!!!! Leave Adele alone.

                • Adele looks like Mrs. Doubtfire *snickers*

                  • Breezy

                    LMBO!!!! iHateChu for this…..to the corner!!!!

                  • Rewind

                    That means that she packs a good punch…Chris Brown was lucky

                  • mena

                    I think she has a pretty face.

                    • Yoles

                      me too and her fatness isn’t bad either… she is pretty proportioned not looking all michellin man-ish

                    • The Guy Formerly Know As Hmmmm

                      she does have a pretty face. color her black and dudes would be calling her a “stallion.”

            • MicTheMessenger

              Adele…i’d hit it.

              Only cuz she ratchet tho.

              But Jill Scott on the other hand…Jill’s regal @$$ coulda got it when she was big, and still can.

              • Rewind

                British ratchet…I can’t deny there is something sexy about it.

        • Todd

          I would concur with this description, especially the well-proportioned part. ;) Fat women with curves = thick. Fat woman without curves = Why don’t you put on a burqa already for Christ’s sake!

          • MicTheMessenger


    • Lisa Medley

      Awww….Yoles….I think you’re beautiful!

      • Yoles

        thank you Lisa :D

    • Todd

      You’re a Black woman. Cops generally don’t go around harassing Black women. Plus, you get to be the Mammy/Magical Negro for White people. :)

      • Drea

        Ohhh shittt the Mammy Magical Negro, that was a good one! Aunt Jemimah out here to save the white folk/women

    • ” I am fat from the back”

      Good god dat ass!!!! *in Tristan’s voice*

    • Rewind

      Big gal or not, everybody wanna poke you. That’s a winner where I come from.

  • mena

    Certain behaviors can define your race and gender, and deny you an automatic acceptance into said groups more so than the color of your skin or your sex.

    • Yep, just ask any Black person that’s a metalhead….

      • Rewind

        Or lover of punk rock/ alt rock/ techno/electronica etc.

      • johnny

        As a white metalhead/rock guy I can say a AA at a metal/rock concert is treated like a king.”that Bro is cool”

        • yanna

          I’m an African American female that likes Country music, pretty much any sub genre of Rock, and I also like Metal, but don’t consider myself a metal head. I have been referred to as an Oreo, but I do not like that term at all. So what does that make me?

  • mena

    What about conservative black female politician?

    • White woman

      • mena

        Really? Even Condi?

        • Think2Inspire

          Codi: Black
          Mia Love: White

          • Todd

            I give Mia Love a pass. Once you see the fine specimen of Negrodom from her hometown, that Mormon missionary was the best she could do. I’m thisclose to sending a bus full of Black men with jobs up to Hartford as an effort to prevent more Mia Loves. The sheer foolishness in that town is scary.

            • Think2Inspire

              Do those Black men with jobs have good credit too?

              Anyway now that I think about it, religion has a lot to do with how we perceive our fellow folk. A Black Baptist, Catholic, Buddhist, Atheist, Jehovah’s Witness, Muslim and Jew are all seen differently but I don’t know how to classify them.

              • Todd

                Yes, those dudes have good credit. I’m not going to steer you wrong, right? :)

                Anyway, here’s the religious categorization

                Black Baptist = Black
                Black Catholic fromrom Louisiana, MD or Haiti = Black.
                Black Catholic from anywhere else = White
                Black Atheist = White
                Black Jehovah’s Witness = Black
                Black Muslim = Black
                Black Jew = Are they Ethiopian? Black Otherwise White.

                • esa

                  “The real Jews are Black!” —Black Israelite, Times Square, 1998

                  or, umm, Caucasian genes are recessive. but white folk dont like to talk about that ..

                  • *shots fired*

                  • Rewind

                    Did he say that with an angry screw face?

                  • Todd


                  • Malik

                    “Jews come in many colours. There are white-skinned Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Mizrahim. This is not uncommon.
                    Jews come in many colours. There are brown-skinned Ashkenazi, Sephardim, and Mizrahim. This is not uncommon.
                    Jews come in many colours. There are black Jews who are NOT Beta Israel. There are black Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Mizrahim. This is not uncommon.”

                • Geneva Girl

                  The heck you say! This black Catholic is NOT white!!! If you go to a good black Catholic church you have to look at the name outside to make sure you aren’t in a Protestant church.

                  • Todd

                    Did you read the whole thing? I said there are exceptions to that rule. LOL

            • DB

              A lot of the Negrodom in Hartford is West Indian so she might have been living around a lot of her people. A lot of the black people with jobs live in the towns surrounding Hartford. The specimen of black people in Hartford is no better than the specimen of black people in a town like New Brunswick, NJ.

              • Todd

                As you can probably guess, I went to school in New Brunswick. At the time I went there, you’d be right. But they ran a lot of those negroes out of town with that Hope VI mess.

                I will say this about Hartford, and about Black people in New England in general. Poor Black People and Black People with Money mind as well not exist to each other. They inhabit two very different worlds. Plus there’s the fact that, save for Boston, most of the Black people came from the same place at the same time, so it’s much harder for an outsider who moved there for work to even talk to the locals.

          • johnny

            Love me some Mia, would vote for 5 times if I could.

        • msdebbs

          Especially Condi

        • Condi’s Black- I mean, look at her funny ass name, LOL!

          • WIP

            Thank you. No matter what she says or does, her name is Condoleezza…

            • Quick question: What in the absolute f*ck is a Condolezza? It sounds like an Italian Navy Ship, LMAO!!!

              • mena

                A woman that was Secretary of State :-) Can’t say much about that name when you get that high up.

              • H.H.H.

                , con dolcezza, which in Italian means, “with sweetness”.

                it’s a music writer’s direction in the type of tempo a musical piece should be played. that being said, i don’t remember seeing any pieces of music with that type of tempo requirement…but i didn’t play long.

              • MrsBagnet

                It’s from an Italian music term, con dolcezza, that means “with sweetness.”

                • MrsBagnet

                  Oops, sorry, didn’t see H.H.H.’s post before I entered my post.

              • Demondog06

                Well she does have an oil tanker named after her….

        • Condi’s a born-again black. She was re-initiated in ’09.

          • MicTheMessenger


          • Demondog06


    • IcePrincess3

      White!! “Deloures Tucker yous a muf*cka!” Lmfaooo

      • Val

        Nah, Delores Tucker was definitely Black. She was just ahead of her time.

  • Herman Cain: Black Republican with a Black wife and White mistress: Can I buy a vowel?

    The Really White guy at every Black mixer: Temporary, but fully revocable Black card

    White kids who grew up in foster care, eg, around Black parents and siblings: Biracial?

    • Geneva Girl

      Toooo funny!

    • Todd

      Herman Cain is Black. Crazy as a MFer, but Black.

      • 2 Cainz is definitely black he probably smells like Cognac and old spice

        • IcePrincess3

          I imagine 2chainz smells like a walking bag of loud.

          • MicTheMessenger

            with a top coat of Jean Paul Gaultier

        • Rewind

          I’d expect him to smell like pepperoni and Noxzema

        • WIP

          I imagine he smells like Black & Milds…which is not a bad thing.

          • MicTheMessenger

            Never pegged you to be the Black N Milds type…

        • Think2Inspire

          He might smell smell like sour cream and onion chips, an old wash cloth, and mint gum.

      • grin and bear it

        Ha ha! All of the above is what makes him black.

    • “White kids who grew up in foster care, eg, around Black parents and siblings: Biracial?”

      White kids that grew up in Black neighborhoods…

      I have something very mean spirited to say about this group of people, but out of respect for the White people that post here who grew up in said environment, I will leave this one alone…

      • Rewind

        You don’t need to say anything mean spirited about them. They are as hood as the Black folks they live with, will have babies just as quickly, and will be rejected from mainstream society just as quickly…so they are in the same boat as us.

        • But it seems like they are dying to be accepted by somebody…

          • Rewind

            Umm…wouldn’t you when you’re the odd ball out?

            • MicTheMessenger


              • Rewind

                NNah man, it’s just like a mulatto..other white people don’t want them because they act hood, certain black people don’t want them because they think they are posing.

                It’s no different than Black kids growing up in all White neighborhoods, you are a product of your environment. I’ve known some gully ass white dudes and girls, trusted them more than the black folks.

                • MicTheMessenger

                  That’s my next door neighbor. Been in our apartments longer than anybody, knew the last 3 ppl that lived in my apt, hang out with pretty much all blk ppl (except for his wife), and says n!gga more effortless than me.

    • I think Sean Fury explained it best….


  • The super-duper Afrocentric Black man who only dates white women: Ain’t no body claiming you but your gf/wife

    • Leave the X-Clan out of this! *shakes fist*

    • MicTheMessenger

      I never understood this. You got love for your ppl, but you don’t have LOVE for your ppl.

    • Flyy

      Mos Def? No? Ok.

    • SweetSass

      It is weird but also every famous Pan Africanist had a white wife. Cray cray.

    • Yonnie

      Henry Louis Gates had a white wife, divorced her, and got another one.

  • IcePrincess3

    Champ I always loved your wicked sense of humor. I LOLd a couple times a your classifications! Good stuff man :-)

    • Breezy

      ICE ICE BABY!!!! Where you been hiding ma’am?!??!?! Missed you around this joint.

      • IcePrincess3

        Breeeezy!!! Wusup momma! Chile I had lost my damn phone. Took me like a week to get anotha one. Ppl on Craigslist are a bunch of derelicts, I swear. But I’m back on deck! I was still lurking @ school tho. Seent the whole banning debacle smh. U kno ole girl wasn’t quite working wit a full deck anyway :-)

        • Breezy

          Girl…don’t tell no one but…YeahSo had told us that she locked you in the basement to keep you away from Tx10….said she swallowed the key and all. Nah this between me and you…so keep it on the low….:)

          But yeah that day that Liz and PJ ban dem babies was pure craziness.

          • IcePrincess3

            Gurrrrl I sent dat mess too! YeahSo ain’t got nun on me ;-)

            • Demondog06

              I’ve been sparse round these parts…who got banned?

    • Rewind

      You owe me some food.

      • IcePrincess3

        Uh- uh! I already brought u a sausage biscuit the other week. It’s your turn to bring breakfast.

        • Rewind

          That cheap 7-11 bullshyte don’t cut it! We need real food! I’m talking pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, homefries!

          Or if you’re really awesome, you’d get me a West Indian dinner, with a bake, some ackee & saltfish, callaloo, and coco tea.!

          • IcePrincess3

            Ninja if I cook u all that, we go together!!

            • Rewind

              *grins devilishly*

  • msdebbs

    What about light skinned blacks?? Some light skinned folks ( or the one’s I’ve encountered seem to be way more pro-black than the rest of us darkees…

    • AfroPetite

      *spits out ginger ale*


    • AfroPetite

      This reminds me of that “dark butts” comment some insignificant rapper made. His name slips my mind but I’m sure someone will come through with the assist…

      • Val

        That’s funny because I know who you mean but I have forgotten his name.

        • AfroPetite

          Whatever it was, I know it was spelled horrendously.

          • msdebbs

            young berg…I had to google it.

            • AfroPetite

              That’s it!!! Hideous little gremlin of a man. I wonder what his life is now.

              • Val

                He’s prolly working at a Church’s Fried Chicken somewhere in Atlanta making fried okra, if he’s lucky. Otherwise, he’s probably totally broke.

              • he’s still out there chasing his transformers chain and getting open-hand slaps from Maino….

      • msdebbs

        lil something I can’t remeber either…

      • Ah yes, that infamous interview he did with Angela Yee on Shade 45 (Back when I had Sirius Satellite Radio).


    • Geneva Girl

      As a very light-skinned woman I would imagine that light-skin black folks act more black, whatever that is, to remind people that they are indeed black. I’ve been told to dress less preppy and more ethnically so I don’t confuse people.

      I often feel like my blackness is often doubted because I’m light. Just because some slave owners had their way with my ancestors doesn’t make me less down for the cause. My blood boils thinking about the many times I’ve been told by white people and black folks that “you’re not really black.” Yeah, I really am!

      • Camilleblu

        You know… It seems that skin color is secondary to how you are perceived..if people (blacks) think you “act white/talk white” etc., then you are white in our minds…..

        • WIP

          I think they talked about this on some MSNBC special recently.

      • Rewind

        As someone who’s dark skinned with a very light skinned mother but made the very mistake you speak of with other light skinned folks….I get your frustration.

        Having people literally argue with me that my mom isn’t my mom had gotten me into plenty of fights, but having to watch my girl be told what ethnicity she is by white people was probably some of the most disrespectful shyte I’ve seen.

        • Geneva Girl

          OMG! I have been bet on in bars by drunk-a** white frat boys, “Uh, are you Hawaiian? Puerto Rican? South American?” It’s only the black folks I’m with who’ve kept me from slapping them. White folks can’t believe that if you’re light and speak like an educated person you are black.

          I know that this is a bit messed up, but I’m so glad that my daughter is brown because she won’t have to deal with this nonsense. Then again, many people think she’s bi-racial because of her hair.

    • kid video

      seem to be way more pro-black than the rest of us darkees…

      Or they’ll be on some extra ghetto chit…trying to prove their “blackness”.

    • “What about light skinned blacks?? Some light skinned folks ( or the one’s I’ve encountered seem to be way more pro-black than the rest of us darkees”

      Malcolm X
      Nikki Giovanni
      Angela Davis

      There’s a pattern here…

    • “What about light skinned blacks?? Some light skinned folks ( or the one’s I’ve encountered seem to be way more pro-black than the rest of us darkees…”

      It is interesting that most of the more extreme revolutionaries — malcolm x, huey newton, panama jackson, etc— are lighter skinned

      • mena

        No it isn’t. They were afforded more educational and employment opportunities than their darker counterparts.

        • Marshal

          Malcolm X read books and was recruited to the Nation of Islam from being in Jail. How that makes him “more afforded education and employment” is way out there……..

      • AfroPetite

        Angela Davis

      • LMAO at Panama Jackson. bwahahaa. he’s soooo black.

        my half-german father is ALWAYS using the word “honkey” and will put you in your place if you call him anything but black or comment on his kink-less hair. so strange. lol

      • LMAO at Panama Jackson. bwahahaa. he’s soooo black.

        my half-german father is ALWAYS using the word “honkey” and will put you in your place if you call him anything but black or comment on his kink-less hair. so strange. lol


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