“AllÂ theÂ Women are White,Â AllÂ theÂ BlacksÂ areÂ 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 perfectlyÂ encapsulatesÂ how a person could be physically Black or White or a Man or a Woman, butÂ considered by most to beÂ something else politically. Basically, while they’ll always maintain their physical attributes, they’ll be treated and regarded as something else.Â For instance, from a physical perspective, Clarence Thomas is undeniably andÂ unambiguouslyÂ Black. But, because of his political history, hisÂ 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 retaliatedÂ against the (White) establishment, he became Black again.
Anyway, Thomas and Dormer are just two prominent examples of thisÂ phenomenonÂ 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 womanÂ genuinelyÂ down for the cause: Good try, but always and forever a White woman
White woman who’s not evenÂ technicallyÂ a White woman: I see your White ass. You can’t hide
Black maleÂ politician:Â Hmm. Depends.
Liberal Black maleÂ politician: Black
Liberal Black maleÂ politicianÂ with White wife: Still Black, but barely
Conservative Black maleÂ 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 nuancedÂ portrayalsÂ 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”)