Nigga Neurosis, Explained » VSB

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Nigga Neurosis, Explained

A month or so ago, the homie Rebecca Carroll reached out to me about contributing to a podcast essay series she created for WNYC. Titled Dear President: What You Need to Know About Race, the series also features Robert Jones (Son of Baldwin), Kirsten West Savali (TheRoot.com), Theo Shaw (Jena 6) and Samaria Rice (Mother of Tamir Rice) and is comprised of each of us writing an essay about a particular part of our Black American experience and then reading an edited version of that essay as a podcast episode.

Mine is titled “Nigga Neurosis” — a term to describe the surreal state of being where a Black person isn’t quite sure if something happened (or didn’t happen) because he happens to be Black. In my essay, I give more context to the term and describe a recent situation that exemplifies it.

Now, this morning I was on The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the essay (which you can also listen to here), and I brought up something that adds even more context. I wrote this a month or so ago and recorded it a couple weeks ago — basically, I did all of this before the election. And I wonder if I would have written and recorded this after the election if my tone would have changed.

Also, Nigga Neurosis exists as a byproduct of racially tinged reactive uncertainty. Basically, maybe we think that cop stopped us because we happened to be Black. In fact, we’re 99.99999% sure of it. But there’s still that 00000.1% of uncertainty. Like, “maybe I’m just being too hyper-aware, too sensitive.” And that’s where the neurosis is born.  Now, though, since certain types of White people seem to be quite emboldened by Darth Cheeto’s win, maybe there will be a bit less of that uncertainty. Now maybe more of them will have the confidence to admit that they’re doing exactly what you suspected them of doing.

Anyway, the full unedited essay is below.

Although it is a condition that plagues (approximately) 92 percent of 12.2 percent of America’s population, you will not find “Nigga Neurosis” in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Nor will it be in any previous iteration. But it should be.

Now” I can hear you asking “why would it be in the DSM-5 when this is a condition I literally just heard of for the first time today?” “Also” I anticipate you following that question up with “I strongly suspect this is something you just made up of the top off your head.”

These are valid and relevant concerns. It is probably true that you’ve never heard of Nigga Neurosis until today. Niggas with neurotic tendencies, maybe. (And definitely if you’re a Kanye fan.) But not nigga neurosis. Because it is something I made up. Well, I made up the name. The condition it describes is very, very real. And it’s something that’s impossible for me to have invented because I’m 37 years old, and it’s been brewing for roughly 400 years — or however long Black people have been in America.

Nigga Neurosis is a byproduct of racism that can very often veer into absurdity. Since it’s not socially polite for racists to just outright admit to racism, we’re left in a perpetual state of flux and ambiguity where it becomes nearly impossible to experience anything without wondering if and how your race is involved. While you think you know, you just don’t knowknow. Which often results in a dynamic where we anticipate it so readily that we actually profile first. It seems irrational, but it’s actually a learned pragmatism that keeps us relatively safe; physically and emotionally.

I live in the Mexican War Streets, a middle to upper middle class neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s Northside that consists of restored brick row houses, and, according to Wikipedia, streets named after battles and generals of the Mexican–American War, including Buena Vista Street, Monterey Street, Palo Alto Street, and Sherman Avenue. It’s the type of neighborhood that blocks off its streets once a year for a fundraiser that consists of people opening their homes and allowing strangers to hang out inside of them. This is easily the Whitest block I’ve ever lived on. And that’s saying a lot because I’ve lived in Pittsburgh – the White person’s Atlanta – my entire life. And not just White demographically, but White enough socially to host what is effectively the grown White person’s Halloween.

We (my wife, my 10-month-old daughter, and I) rent a house that sits near a popular neighborhood pub. Between the pub and our house sits a fire hydrant. While parking approximately seven feet away from the hydrant — with daughter in tow — a man standing outside of the bar gestures at me through my window. I open it to see what’s up.

“Hey man. You gotta back up some.”

“Huh?”

“I’m a retired firefighter. You gotta be at least 15 feet away from the hydrant.”

I take a moment to consider who he is (a middle-aged White guy who says he’s a retired firefighter), where I’m parked (seven feet from the hydrant, which is technically illegal, but a law that is broken literally every day on this block), where I am (peak White Pittsburgh), who’s with me (my infant daughter) and who I am (a Black guy) before deciding how to respond and what to do.

This is Nigga Neurosis.

I back up, deciding that I just don’t want to be the Black guy who argues in the street with a White man about fire hydrants that day. I figured I’d use my “Black guy arguing in the street with a White guy” yearly quota for later in the fall.

The next day I went to the same pub to grab a ginger ale. Bartender says, “I see you met Nate yesterday. I could see what happened from the bar. Don’t worry about him. He does that to everyone — including me and I’ve known him for 10 years.”

While I appreciated the bartender’s implicit message (“Hey, it’s not a race thing. He’s just a bit of a dick about that with everyone.”), it didn’t do much to alleviate my Nigga Neurosis. Variants of the same questions still exist. Maybe he does this to everyone — Black, White, Yinzer — but was he less polite with me than he would have been with a 37-year-old White guy with an infant in the car seat? He wasn’t a raging asshole — just a bit of a dick; a normal amount of mundane dickishness — but would this dickishness have dissipated if I didn’t happen to be who I was and where I was?

And, if I just ignored him, what would have happened next? Do we start arguing? And if we start arguing, does someone call the police? And if the police come, is there any doubt that this white and middle-aged retired firefighter receives the benefit of the doubt instead of 30-something Black guy with sweats and a fitted and a driver’s license that still hasn’t been updated with my new address?

If you think I’m doing too much right now — needlessly obsessing over impossible to determine motives and increasingly far-fetched hypotheticals — I see your point. I even agree.

And I also know you must not be Black.

Dear President: What You Need to Know About Race is an ongoing narrative project by WNYC. Browse all of the essays here.

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See what other people are saying here:

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com 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.

  • cakes_and_pies

    In light of LeBron and Phil, is the word “posse” coded language? I get LeBron NN point.

    • It very much is. I especially get LeBron’s point is unlike a lot of athletes, his circle are all empowered and play a pivotal role to his brand. LeBron isn’t just bringing his friend around, that’s his AGENT. Levels, B.

      • cakes_and_pies

        When I first read it, it did sound like a dog whistle to me.

        • Junegirl627

          Yes is it cakes.

          Scenario: If I say that an athlete had a bunch of women hanging on him in VIP during a conversation about this guy being a womanizer. You would think I was talking about the “stereotypical groupies” but then if you find out that I knew the athlete was in VIP with his cousin and three sisters……

      • Miles

        Phil doesn’t realize its not the 90’s or early 00’s anymore. He got away with that type of slick stuff with Kobe and Shaq and they brushed it off (whether they got him straight in private or not is a different matter). But that paternalistic, postmodern hippie guru shtick has worn out its aura among the young brothers who play now and nobody uses the word posse anymore which shows how out of touch he is and helped exposed his slick intent.

        • He wrote in his book in 2004 that he worried about LeBron’s friends and he needs better (whiter) people around. 14 years in, it looks like that posse of his is doing okay.

          • Miles

            FACTS

    • Damon Young

      it is. i’m writing something up about that now.

    • Junegirl627

      The word posse in the context of the conversation is coded language. Remember this is an Phil is giving an interview where he is recounting an event to prove his negative opinion of Lebron. So by describing the group of people of color accompanying Lebron as a “posse” he is purposefully using this word to paint the picture of a bunch of “saggy pants friends from the hood” instead of members of his business team i.e. Brand Managers, Financial advisors, sponsors, and close family members.

    • I don’t think he was using posse as a racial term as Bron suggested. I think that was just old slang. However, the word shows that he doesn’t acknowledge Bron’s friends as any more than hangers on which is definitely insensitive.

      • Context matters….LeBron, his mama and his _______ need to get on that plane, was intended to be shady, pick a word any word.

        • I agree that he definitely doesn’t like Bron I think that was clear. I’m just not sure if it was intended to be racist. It’s hard for me to come to that determination.

          • It’s touchy…but if LeBron had a team of Jewish lawyers holding up the plane, he mightve been just as dismissive but no way they would be called a posse

            • Quirlygirly

              So True!!

            • Possibly not. I think the major difference there is Bron’s team of Jewish lawyers wouldn’t be his lifetime friends that he put on once he became pro. They would have some legitimacy in Phil’s eyes, for lack of a better term. Phil probably sees Bron’s guys as some kids who have what they have because of Bron and not true business partners/agents. While this is not entirely false to be frank, it’s still very condescending and he was wrong for saying it. I just didn’t see the racism in it, imo.

              • Junegirl627

                False. Don’t assume that Lebron only knew black people growing up

                • I’m not assuming that. But being realistic, his inner circle is all black men and a lot of his main influencers growing up were black. Which is why I thought his example was slightly different.

                  • Junegirl627

                    Which proves my point black people traveling Lebron = Posse. Not advisors, friends, Entourage, hanger ons, staff, friends, boys.

                    Thats what makes it racist.

                    • I think you need more than that to make that conclusion. I believe it’s a lack of respect more than anything.

                    • Junegirl627

                      We’ll agree to disagree but keep this perspective when your insulted.

                    • Yea we will agree to disagree here. I guess I’m just slightly less skeptical than you are on this topic lol

              • I agree, it honestly sounded more old than anything. Phil isn’t used to lawyers and business partners who look more like the players than him.

        • Negro Libre

          Lol shady, nah let’s speak clearly: it was meant to be a dis.

      • Junegirl627

        But why is he assuming that they are just hanger on? That is where race plays a part. Would Brad, Biff and Buffy accompanying Lebron be called a posse?

        • It’s possible that race plays a part. But I think a big part is just that these are guys that are Bron’s childhood friends first and the perception is that all the business accomplishments they have are because of Bron so they are not respected as a typical business partner that Bron might have linked up with after he turned pro and went the traditional route of becoming an agent or whatever

          • Junegirl627

            Then you use the word entourage. Not posse. Posse has a negative/ villainous meaning that is insulting. And when you use an unnecessary negative word to describe a group of men of color that you know are business associates, it becomes racially tinged.

        • grownandsexy2

          LOL @ Brad, Biff and Buffy.

      • Miles

        Phil still thinks he is “the cool coach/executive” posse was meant to be condescending but I don’t believe he would have used it if he thought could be interpreted as racially offensive. HOWEVER, I do think he meant to be condescending and deragatory towards Lebron’s team. I think he was going for entourage but that “posse” was hip and missed the mark. He might’ve even tried for crew, regardless shade was intended.

        • I agree this is exactly how I feel about it.

        • Junegirl627

          Your right and wrong. I don’t think that Phil Jackson is racist. I don’t think that he said posse instead of niqqers. I do wholeheartedly believe that his word choice was racially motivated. That older white man was recalling that event and when thinking of an insulting word to describe lebron and his entourage he said posse because he was painting a negative picture of Lebron and he wanted a word that would fit. I don’t think that Phil thought his wording would be taken the way it was and I don’t think he meant it to be taken the way it was.

    • pls

      guys? what’d I miss?

      • cakes_and_pies

        Phil Jackson called Lebron and his friends a posse. The context implies he wanted to call him something else.

    • It was coded in a mix of Phil speak and old white guy speak. Phil, has historically trolled people around the league for sometime (like the Spurs after they won their first championship.) but Lebron just called him on it. He used “posse” to describe Lebron and his folks as a bunch of black dudes from Akron in lieu of words like “business team”, “management”, or even “company” who often swing multi million dollar deals. It reeked of being purposely dismissive. Nobody told the old guy that the young powerful talent is in charge now.

      • It’s also LeBron’s move…just like after Draymond called him a b*tch, he called him out as well. You can roll your eyes at it, but LeBron is not for the disrespect, you will call him Mr Tibbs.

        • I agree completely. I was looking at dudes on VSB and in real life sideways when they said they didn’t understand why Lebron reacted to being called “b***ch” by Welvin. Like where are y’all from where that doesn’t get addressed?

          • My issue with that was why did he bring it to the press conference? He coulda handled that privately or said something on the court especially since he knows Draymond. And I’m sure he’s heard that word or worse many times before on the floor before so for him to bring it up in a press conference then and bring up his kids and family made it seem like he had an ulterior motive.

            • He handled it how he handled it. Welvin was teetering on falling off the rails running up to that so by bringing it up then he put it in the air. Once it was in the air, Welvin’s next move got his dumb-a** run because he can’t seem to control himself. Once he took out the dude with the heart on the squad the rest fell over. Solid battle plan ask Putin.

              • I don’t think Draymond reacted that much out of line considering how that whole thing was started, but the NBA rules are so tight these days. I just don’t like when players have to resort to that type of stuff to win. It did end up working out for Bron in the end though.

          • Kas

            And addressed with the quickness

    • Val

      And, back in 2005 Phil also said this: “I don’t mean to say [this] as a snide remark toward a certain population in our society, but they have a limitation of their attention
      span, a lot of it probably due to too much rap music going in their ears and coming out their being…. The players have been dressing in prison garb the last five or six years. All the stuff that goes on, it’s like gangster, thuggery stuff.”

      He’s knows exactly what he’s saying and what the connotations are. Phil is a racist.

      • cakes_and_pies

        The Hayle. Just cuz yo azz is a basketball coach and he’s around a lot of Black men doesn’t give him the authority to speak of us like that.

      • grownandsexy2

        That’s what I said yesterday but some disagreed. Posse is code for a group of blacks likely up to no good. Whites are friends, hanging out. LeBron and Phil are front page in the NY paper today.

    • grownandsexy2

      Yes it is, very much so.

    • Brother Mouzone

      Not necessarily racist, but extremely dismissive and condescending. Phil is not a racist, he’s an old out of touch white dude who has some low key resentment of these young brothas who are wielding power that he and Pat Riley couldn’t have DREAMED of having when they were players or coaches, and maybe even as management.

  • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

    Oooh, okay so that’s my condition? Nope, not too much. I side eye white folks and they’re fake motivation to be upstanding, outstanding, or thoughtful, or right, or concerned, or concerned for the job, concerned for the parking lot, blah blah blah.

    • Cosmic_

      I was told I was being paranoid…
      Now I know what to call it.

      • It’s gaslighting…people are quick to blame “PC culture” to discredit legitimate feelings

        • Cosmic_

          Storytime:
          I missed out on a decent promotion a few years back. I was accused of creating a hostile environment with someone who is a known bully within the company (white men have quit because of this guy). I asked a question, dude speaks in a condescending tone, I tell him “you don’t have to talk to me that way” and then BOOM.
          Problem is: I have always held the reputation of being one of the sweetest people in the company. Thankfully I didn’t get fired. My “sweetness” is slowly becoming bitter resentment because I feel like I don’t know how to properly navigate around my coworkers without being “paranoid” or having some sort of chip on my shoulder.

          • HouseOfBonnets

            tbh I would have looked into transitioning. I’m at a point that i don’t have time for workplace foolery lbs

            • Quirlygirly

              And who has time to tiptoe around peoples feelings..They sure aren’t tiptoeing around yours

              • Cosmic_

                True … but anything outside of “sweet” and “kind” would be considered out of character.

            • Cosmic_

              I will say this. Though I missed that one… I am glad I am not in that position.
              Now I have my own office and stalk VSB all day so there’s that.
              I have found for me, sometimes weathering certain storms can prove beneficial.

          • Quirlygirly

            I have had something similar happen to me too Cosmic..I ended up leaving the job because no matter how nice I was before and after the incident. I was still considered Angry Black Woman..

            • Cosmic_

              Wow… I could share some stories about NN.
              But I imagine we all can.
              It makes me wonder if there is a thin line between paranoia and legit “grievances”.

              • Quirlygirly

                i think in certain situations, the line is thin but there a instances where the line is thick and clear.

          • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

            We’re were just commenting on another post being strategic with the clapback when it comes to white coworkers, that if you react to “white folk foolery”, you’re angry, bitter. I’ll drop that “hostile environment” title in a minute. I feel you tho. I think they know tho don’t bring it. Tee hee hee

            Me? I don’t give a flying flip how I’m perceived. I decline EVERYTHING in the way of social, I go late to something sponsored by the department. If there are showers, etc., if they ain’t crossed me I’ll buy a gift but I’m not going in with the group. Naw you can’t have my money when eight days a week you’re shady but nice for this one occasion. NOPE! To top it off I’m “good morning-ing” all nice and sweet but after that it’s work…..don’t get it twisted (toward these folks). I keep a line drawn in the sand. I’m not bitter at all, but I have worked long enough to know if they can bury you they will. I keep my distance and keep them out of my personal space. You won’t get the opportunity.

          • Kas

            Sad secret there is no good way for to navigate. You have to have a white Savior, preferably male, to navigate corporate America.

            • The funny thing is that it was an older brother who saved my tail, but only because he had such a rep as A Good Negro that they went along with it.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            I’m in a similiar situation as you right now.

            And I think they are scared of me. Because I come off as unpredictable. Not that I’ve done anything crazy. I’ve just merely stated this “nice guy” routine is just for show, and I won’t tolerate disrespect. So of course now it’s a problem.

            But once you open that book, you can’t close it. So you have to edit the chapters your way from here on out.

      • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

        Exactly! They know deep down

  • I worried being too woke about things at times, but I also know I’ve been black for over 25 years and I’m smarter than most people, I’ll trust my instincts and f*ck whoever wants to tell me what is and isn’t offensive.

    • pls

      THIS!!! My intuition has never been wrong

      • grownandsexy2

        Mine either. It’s when I haven’t trusted it.

    • YES!!!

  • pls

    If you have to ask…

    • Part of the problem is, peoples instinct is to ask why is _______ offensive rather than just taking the word for it.

  • HeyThereLG

    Nope, not doing too much. I’m not Black and I can clearly see white folks’ discomfort more often than not when Black folks are simply moving through life. For sure this paranoia on the part of white people will only increase, which is insane considering how omnipresent it is to begin with.

  • Other_guy13

    I get this feeling a lot working in Dunwoody Ga and living in Vinings. It’s usually when I go into certain stores and immediately get looks like “did he mean to walk in here”. I try not to notice it but it happens…but sometimes when folks try to speak in code or give each other a look it’s like “y’all know I can see you right”. It’s really all in how you react to it….as long as micro-aggression’s exist so will Ninja Neurosis

    • Lea Thrace

      Dude. We live and work in damn near the same places. You need to plan an ATL meetup!

  • pls

    An old white lady gives me thumbs up because she “likes” my daughter’s name. Is thumbs up her showing approval of me naming my black kid something she can pronounce on the first try? Or does she genuinely just like the name period?

  • pls

    “Pittsburg- the White person’s ATL” *dies*

  • fedup

    I promise, I almost had a melt down in Target this morning. I went to go to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee. I don’t know why there was a staff member posted by the shopping carts, but he was. As I walked past, I swear I heard him say “Hi Niqqer.” It was pretty low, and there was another staff member that was talking to him as I thought I heard him say it. I stopped, turned to look right at him, he looked at me, smiled and said “Did you need me to help you find something.” I was so confused. I just said nawl, and went to get in the line to get my coffee. But I couldn’t shake it. Still can’t. He did smile at me again as I left, so maybe he didn’t, and I’m just unconsciously looking for an altercation? My Black person alert level HAS been vacillating between orange and red over the past week, so….

    • pls

      they not afraid of what happens after they say it around us no more and I blame this new generation. black culture is up for grabs and them fools just handing it over for free

    • Kas

      WalMart I would be more likely to believe he said what you thought he said.

      • fedup

        But that’s the thing though Kas; ever since he won last week, these mofos have just gon off the rails, in public places where you wouldn’t even think things would be goin down.

        The woman go got punched in her face by one of his supporters, in a crowded NY restaurant?

        The guy who got body-slammed off the stairs by one at a demonstration?

        The Black woman who was attacked by a group of them with a brick and told she could get raped?

        At this point, you can’t put anything past anyone at anyplace anymore!

        • Valerie

          True. Gotta keep ears and eyes open

        • Kas

          To your point, ma’am, ms. Mrs., May I help you or have a nice day couldn’t be mistaken for nuccah.

          • fedup

            The “Hi Niqqer” that I thought I heard was stand alone, cause he didn’t say “Good morning” or “Welcome to Target”. He may have said something else (and trust me, I ran through every possible thing I could think of he could have said, which is why I was so confused); coulda been the tail end of “Go help her” or somethin about a “manager” or anything. But I have never mistaken someone saying something to me like that before, let alone in Target, which is why I’m startin to feel like he did say that. I’m long beyond the time frame for schizophrenia to have shown up in my life.

        • Les Vegas

          If you think you heard it, then that is exactly what he said.

      • grownandsexy2

        Is Target exempt?

      • miss t-lee

        It’s really the same store. I don’t know why y’all think Target is somehow upscale.

        • Kas

          Are you coming at me? Cuz you know how I get down. Wait a minute, just realized who I was responding to. Let me bring it down some.

          Workers at Target are typically less bitter than workers at Walmart.

        • Cheech

          Target is owned/run by Dems in MN. Walmart is owned/run by R’s in AR. At the employee/greeter level, they are the same.

          • miss t-lee

            They’re the same dayum store.
            Trust me.
            There’s hood azz Targets that would have you shopping at Wal-Mart quickly.

            • Cheech

              Oh, I’m agreeing with you!

              • miss t-lee

                *daps*

        • Val

          Because it’s pronounced, Tar-jaa. Lol

          • miss t-lee

            To them…lol

        • It’s not upscale at. I loath Wally World although it is a little cheaper and resembles a state fair without the rides.

          • miss t-lee

            LMAO
            I hate both stores. I really only go by necessity, or super early morning when it’s just the workers, because I can’t.

            • Mr. Mooggyy

              I’m immediately angry when I pull up to walmart! Just BAM! Angry Ni99a Syndrome! The drivers in the parking lot suck. I hate the people who can’t push their carts correctly! I hate the bad a$$ kids that I want to hit with my cart!

          • I f***s with the Wally World Neighborhood markets.

            • miss t-lee

              I’ve heard of them, but we don’t have any here.

      • Nonameneeded

        I don’t know why you would think that. Target had a major lawsuit for discriminatory hiring practices that they lost.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      I get the fear and the paranoia.

      But some days you just have to address it outright.

    • Kas

      Violent NSFW, but I think you will appreciate
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cc4OGIs86HQ

  • Junegirl627

    I get NN everytime some well meaning Wyte person is surprised that I know the answer to something.

    • I got called articulate the other day and I was ready to jump across the table…the thing was they were legit trying to compliment me.

      • PinkRose

        My new response to that is “you know, most intelligent people are quite articulate”.

        • pls

          Next time say, “Articulate! That’s a big word you’re using!” with a blank stare.

          • Scorpiogoddess??

            Ooooo. I like this one lots.

      • Junegirl627

        My nephew got into Boston college, NYU, Villanova, Fordham, St. Johns with full ride scholarships & was wait listed for Penn State. You should see the looks I get from Wyte people about this. Especially when the find out they aren’t hardship grants but merit scholarships.

        • GenevaGirl

          A few girls from my high school class at a prominent private school applied to Boston College and I was the only one who got in. Those girls complained to the guidance counselor that the only reason that I got in was that I’m black. The counselor shot back, “She’s the only Catholic too.” At BC that means a lot.

          I went to Penn instead which really pissed them off!

          • Junegirl627

            How dare you work hard and earn your place in an Ivy League school!!! The nerve of us niqqas!

          • -h.h.h.-

            psst…which year?

            • GenevaGirl

              A long, long time ago.

              • -h.h.h.-

                how long is long long? i’m coming up on 15 years.

                • GenevaGirl

                  Hahaha! I’m an old head on this site. I finished grad school before you finished undergrad.

                  • -h.h.h.-

                    ahh gotcha gotcha

        • grownandsexy2

          One BW got into Harvard and while she was waiting in line, a WW struck up a convo and asked her where she was going to college. When she shared she was accepted into Harvard, WW’s response was “you mean the one in Massachusetts?”

          • Junegirl627

            I read about that

          • PinkRose

            I read about that story, went viral earlier this year I believe.

          • Maestro G

            “No, the one on Mars.” ???

            Sometimes all you can do is shake your head.

      • fedup

        Yeah, at my company’s fundraiser last month, we were all asked to say what working here means to us. I did my spiel, then a long-time collaborator comes up afterward and begins to tell how much she loved my speech, and how articulate I was, and how she wished I could speak more.

        Needless to say, she will not be invited to anymore of my coalition meetings.

      • Maestro G

        That and “Well-spoken” really get under my skin. As if the default is illiterate and jacked up.

        • miss t-lee

          Also.

      • Val

        Like, am I articulate for a Black person or just articulate for anyone in general?

        • miss t-lee

          You know the answer to that, Val.

        • Gibbous

          As a rule, I think a lot of us Black women are articulate “for anyone in general” because we have to be in order to be taken seriously. I can’t even call it overcompensation because it’s actually necessary for our professional survival.

        • Asiyah

          That’s why I speak mostly in cuss words. When they go “can’t you say anything else” I remind them that I tailor my language to the intellectual level of the person I’m speaking with.

        • Scorpiogoddess??

          articulate for a BLACK person.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        I hate that s h i t. Articulate is a compliment when you’re in the 5th grade writing an essay for the first time.

        Don’t tell me, a grown a$$ man, I’m articulate, just because I spent 12 years learning the King’s English every other gotdamn American.

        • Quirlygirly

          I’m sorry but being articulate is NOT a compliment for a grown person. And for someone to think they are giving you a compliment by saying it reeks of code switching to me. There are so many other ways to say- I like what you said and how you said it.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Exactly my point. They fool no one. I’m too old for that to be sliding.

        • Junegirl627

          Because saying “Great Speech” or “good point” “thanks for the insight” is too hard

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Exactly! They know what they are doing.

        • Asiyah

          I’ve heard “you have great vocabulary for a Latina”

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            I will stab this person right now.

            Tell me where to find them.

      • miss t-lee

        Ughhhh. Can’t stand that shizz.

      • Cheech

        Here’s the thing, though. I totally get why it’s offensive. (E.g., Reid/Obama 2008.) But–for anyone–there’s regular-level well spoken, and there’s, man, you’re a gifted speaker. You have real oratorical chops. (E.g., anyone to Obama 2016.)

        Maybe it’s just my profession. But the ability to communicate complex or contentious ideas clearly is a rare blessing. The absence thereof, an all-too-common curse. When you encounter the former, sometimes you want to offer praise, or acknowledge that you’re impressed. Without composing original prose on the spot, though, or worse, waxing over-the-top, there’s a danger that a simple compliment turns into a foot in the mouth or a land mine. Now I just smile and stfu. I get it, but it’s unfortunate to have to earn trust befire saying something nice.

      • Blueberry01

        It’s funny how racism is always intended to be something nice.

    • cakes_and_pies

      Or when you use $5 words. I once used the word “ameliorate.” YT said “You know that word?!” Yeah, why wouldn’t it?

      • Mr. Mooggyy

        That would’ve pi$$ed me off! To the highest levels of pistivity!

      • brothaskeeper

        Long time ago a coworker took me to her nondenominational multicultural church where the pastor was YT. After the service, she introduced me to him, and I complimented him on the atmosphere and the composition of his congregation, saying that it wasn’t typically homogenous (I put the spoken stress on the second syllable). This muthafukka tried to correct me! He repeated the word as homo-GEE-nous. I went full NeNe and told him I said what I said, and I exited the convo.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          See….that pastor could have gotten slapped.

          • Quirlygirly

            Nah– you can’t go around slapping people..no matter how much they deserve it

            • brothaskeeper

              What if you could have a “proxy slapper”?

              • Quirlygirly

                And not get in trouble for conspiracy or something..I would have a “proxy slapper” slapping people left and right. Open and closed hand slaps

              • Gibbous

                You mean like an “anger translator?”

                • brothaskeeper

                  Except more…….hands-on.

                  • Gibbous

                    Lol!

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              Says who?

              • Quirlygirly

                Looka here Mr 6’1, 250 lb Black man. You cant go around leaving slap indentation marks on people. That is a sure fire way of having them people come get you.

                Plus, I ain’t cut out for jail

                • RewindingtonMaximus

                  The way I feel these days…I’m ready to break my “never been to jail” record

                  • Quirlygirly

                    Nah B– you ain’t cut out for jail either..But if you feel the record must be broken..I will send you a care package and put a few dollars on ya books. lol

        • cakes_and_pies

          Who does that? I swear I don’t get White people at times. They think they know everything.

        • Kas

          Homo-genius, errbody know dat

        • Val

          Welp, that’s what happens when you go to nondenominational multicultural churches, Broham. Lol They need to pick a team.

      • Maestro G

        I would have replied with “Yeah, and I also know the words presumptuous, pretentious, imbecile, and ignoramus. Do you know the words F***, and Off?”

        • Junegirl627

          Borrowing!!!

          • Maestro G

            Please do :-)

        • NonyaB?

          YASSS!

      • Quirlygirly

        See some people deserve an open hand slap–but that would have been assault,,and you dont need them problems

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