The VSB Takeover: Part II

We know. Thanks for the compliment, though

So, there’s a strong chance that things are going to be a little different around here in the near future. Don’t be alarmed. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that our diabolic plan for world domination is making us quite busy nowadays, and we may be adding (and subtracting) some aspects to VSB.

How busy? Well, I won’t divulge everything that’s going on behind the scenes just yet, but for now…

Let’s start off with the lovely Liz Burr, who’s producing a new web series for Moguldom Media Group. Titled “She’s The Boss“, it features one-on-one interviews and profiles of successful black business women in NYC.  (I think it’s just a contrived way for Liz to eventually interview herself on camera, but don’t tell her I said that)

Panama and I have begun working on our second book. I won’t tell you exactly what it’s about yet, but I’ll give you a hint: I touched on the topic in an post this week.

And speaking of “Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm At Night“, we’re thisclose to signing off on something pretty amazing. Just waiting for a couple of lawyers to, um, do whatever it is that lawyers do before we can publicly say exactly what it is.

You might recall  me mentioning a few months ago that I was named head editor of an online New Yorker-ish magazine that’s launching in the fall. Well, that magazine has a name now — The Hill Review — and a launch date (Sept. 12th). Our web designer (Yup. Huny. We’re rocking with the best.) is still working out a few kinks on our yet to be completed homepage, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t add us on our brand spanking new Twitter and Facebook pages right now. Also, although our super snarky submissions policy isn’t ready for public consumption just yet (Seriously, this thing is a work of art. It’s especially funny if you read it with Russell Brand’s voice. ), I wouldn’t let it stop you from sending us something at if you’re interested in contributing in some manner. “Some manner” could be a poem, an excerpt, a piece of fiction, an essay, a query, a pitch, or whatever.

Don’t worry. We do bite, but they’re (usually) non-lethal.

As usual, Panama and I have been making our way around the web as well.

Panama was recently interviewed by The Statesman for a look at online dating and social media. Don’t forget that you can find him at The Stir and GuySpeak as well.

My “Ask A Very Smart Brotha” column at Madame Noire is still going strong. This week, I addressed the futility of being a “ride-or-die” chick and why you shouldn’t kill your man’s dreams.

Also, Latoya Peterson of Racialicious asked me to take part in a very, very interesting roundtable discussion about interracial dating. Split into four parts, you can find the first part of the conversation here.

Lastly, yesterday’s conversation about race and tipping and waiters with superiority complexes will continue next week at The Good Man Project, as I agreed to let them repost “The White Person’s Guide To Black People, Part 5″. Mosey on over there on Monday if you still need to get some things off your chest.

Anyway, that’s enough from me today. Does anyone else have anything new and exciting and sh*t that they want to share? The carpet is yours.

—The Champ

The White Person’s Guide To Black People, Part 5

If you happened to eavesdrop on a random group of black people having a free-flowing conversation — and this conversation could take place anywhere; a family reunion, a happy hour, a game night, a cafeteria table, wherever — there’s a good chance that the discussion will eventually shift to our feelings about black people doing dumb-ass sh*t in public.

The topic might be something someone saw on the evening news. If at a restaurant, it might revolve around a woman near the entrance who’s dressed and acting a “hot ass mess.” It might just be our hilarious thoughts about the latest episode of Basketball Wives.

While they might seem innocuous and unnecessary, these frequent conversations about cringe-worthy sh*t committed by people of color all come from the same place, the same latent feeling that’s never actually spoken aloud but understood by each.

We’d rather not air our “dirty laundry” around white people, and we’re slightly amazed, shocked, and embarrassed by those who do.

This feeling, passed down to us by our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, has wide-reaching effects, as it influences the way we act, causes many of us to “code switch,” and creates a certain level of collective racial hyper self-consciousness that (I’m assuming) white people never have to adopt.

I realize that many of them (white people) don’t really “get” this way of thinking, not understanding why we’d be pathologically reluctant to be candid and let our hair down around them, but a recent experience I’ve had should help them understand why many of us feel the way we do.

A couple weeks ago, Lisa Hickey — publisher and CEO of Good Men Media — asked if I’d be interested writing something for an upcoming discussion of race at The Good Men Project. Now, this wasn’t an out of the blue request. I’ve written for The Good Men Project before, and Lisa and I exchange emails regularly and have a pretty good working relationship.

But while I was definitely interested in contributing, I had a major mental reservation: I’d never written about race for a (predominately) white audience before.

Yes, I’m aware that VSB has a large and multi-racial readership base. But, the majority of the people who frequent here belong to the same demographic (21 to 35 year old African-American), and that knowledge does influence word choice and tone. I might be a bit more conscious of some of the things I so freely discuss here if I knew I was speaking to a different audience.

Anyway, I got past the reservation and ended up writing a 1000 word piece about a “racial neurosis” that many of us carry, and how it affects the way we react to things.

“The overt and soul-crippling racism that plagued our parents and grandparents isn’t nearly as prominent today. Anyone who’d argue otherwise is a fool. But, this history has resulted in a collective neurosis whose symptoms are similar to how dealing with a crazy girlfriend or boyfriend for too long starts to make you crazy as well. You start hacking into their email account just to make sure they haven’t hacked into yours again. They accuse you of lying so much that you start to wonder “Wait, am I sure that happened? Did I really go to work today, or did I spend the entire day with my mistress?”

From a race perspective, a manifestation of this mindset is you wondering if all things that happen to you are somehow related to you being black; a too heightened racial awareness that makes it increasingly difficult to discern between legitimate racism and race-based discrimination — both of which definitely still exist — and mere happenstance.”

I ended this essay with a paragraph or two about what often happens when we eat at restaurants. As many of you know, we have a stereotype of being bad tippers. This reputation may or may not be deserved, but I theorized that we might be bad tippers because we have a history of getting bad service, so we anticipate it now. I called this phenomenon “Eating While Black,” and Lisa liked that term so much that she thought I should just make it the title of the article. I agreed.

“Eating While Black” was eventually published last Monday, and it was pretty well-received; ending the week as the 3rd most popular article at The Good Men Project that week. The comments it generated didn’t really touch on the racial neurosis aspect, though, as most were focused on why Eating While Black occurs.

One commentator in particular — a guy who went by G.L. Piggy — shared a few of his thoughts as a white waiter who’s had many experiences with black customers.

“I’ve been a waiter for 7 years at a second-tier Italian restaurant. In my experience, black do tip worse. Yes, white servers cringe when they see black people being seated at their tables. But the same is true of black servers as well. This has much less to do with the amount of the tip one is expected to receive though.

These are all generalities – not all black people are like this. But racial differences in restaurant behavior are noticable. Black people tend to be more needy, pickier, and quick to anger. They take much longer to order their food. We call it “being ran”. Many servers get the feeling that black patrons are asking for extra things – napkins, ranch dressing, extra sauce – just to put us to work. They seem much less understanding about your time constraints and your need to take care of your other patrons. There seems to be, among blacks more than other races, a mentality of “I want it now”. And while the “get shit for free” mentality transcends race, blacks tend to hold it more than other races of people”

Although I found the statement about black people and “getting shit for free” a little troubling, I appreciated his candor and willingness to share his opinions. We went back and forth a few times after that, cordially debating the root causes of Eating While Black, and the discussion eventually died down towards the end of the week.

This Monday, however, I received an email notification that “Eating While Black” had received another trackback. I clicked on it, and it took me to “Not Tipping While Black” —  a 600 word long response G.L. Piggy’s had just posted on his blog.

I read it, expecting to see a continuation of the discussion we had the week before. Instead, I noticed a shift in tone and direction, as it subtly started to become a critique of “black culture” in general.

“But it is ridiculous to grant poor tippers some sort of deep philosophical justification for their cheapness and/or hostility towards (white) social norms of any sort.  The fact is that tipping is an American norm which means that black patrons who willingly flout it are free-riding on the rest of society.”

Curious where this discussion was headed, I decided to stick around and read the comments.


From G.L. Piggy:

“But whenever they find hairs or plastic (at an amazingly high rate) or if their food isn’t prepared to their liking, you pretty much have to drop everything to cater to them. It’s really like waiting on infants”

From “a.nonny.mous”

“…black patrons of restaurants aren’t oriented to the bill for their food, literally because their minds have trouble conceiving it. So they get it and are astounded because they never thought “how will this steak and wine affect my future bank account” in a way a non-black would.”

From “EzE”

“Really, is it necessary to plumb the depths of evolutionary psychology to figure out why blacks are lousy tippers, rude customers? Do you really think that some alleged inability to consider future consequences comes into play?

Blacks are jerks, that’s all. There’s no need to science it all up. Also the infantile mind theory is no good, they’re not infants, they are of below average intelligence often but above retardation. No, there’s no big mystery here, they’re just jerks is all.”

These are just a few of the 130 or so comments this topic generated, but they provide a good snapshot of the tone of the entire discussion there. What’s jarring (and kind of scary) is the fact that these don’t seem to be unintelligent people. These aren’t your stereotypical uneducated trailer park racist rednecks. Most of them live in major cities, they each have well thought out and “researched” theories about why blacks are intellectually inferior, and they seem to be mentally, intellectually, and emotionally invested in proving this to be true.

Ironically, the comments in “Not Tipping While Black” actually prove why Eating While Black even exists. While they interpret our “pickiness” and occasional animosity towards servers as entitlement, it’s really just distrust — distrust of white establishments, distrust of the food made by white cooks, distrust of white people’s ultimate intentions, etc — and statements like this “…black patrons of restaurants aren’t oriented to the bill for their food, literally because their minds have trouble conceiving it.” do nothing but fan that flame.

Anyway, I’m pointing all of this out because this is the exact reason why I — and many other black people— have serious reservations about being candid around most whites. Yes, I realize that not all white people share these views. But more than enough of us share the belief that deep down, many of them do.

And, the reluctance to freely share, to be open and honest, to “air our dirty laundry in public” is basically just us not wanting to provide any opportunity for white America to gather more “evidence” to support their latent belief that we’re just not supposed to be here.

Strangely enough, this experience didn’t depress or dishearten me in the least. Maybe I just anticipated it and braced myself for it. And, maybe the “losing sleep over what white assholes think” part of my brain is underdeveloped too.

—The Champ

The Very Smart Takeover

I spent the entire 4th of July grilling and mixing drinks for a crew of Mexican plankers and n*gger scientists, so I wasn’t able to write last night. And by “I spent the entire 4th of July grilling and mixing drinks for a crew of Mexican plankers and n*gger scientists” I mean “I was drunk between 2:30 pm and (approximately) now.”

But, although we don’t have anything new for VSB today, Panama and I have been quite busy expanding our writing horizons, and I thought I’d take some time today to share a few of the moves we’ve made to help make this VSB takeover complete.

First, I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be writing for The Good Men Project on a semi-regular basis. My first article there, “Eligible, Black, Male, and Hopelessly Single” — which shed light on the fact that there are actually “eligible” black men out there who genuinely want to be in a relationship (with a black woman!) but have trouble finding the right match — was their most popular article last week and was picked up by several publications, including NPR News and Clutch Magazine.

Panama has a new gig at The Stir, where he’s blogging about being a single dad, being black, dating, actually knowing his daughter’s favorite color, and being a black single dad who’s currently dating and actually knows his daughter’s favorite color. It’s not a game with Panama and the blogging about being a single black male father (who’s not in prison) game.

A new edition of my “Ask A Very Smart Brotha” advice column at Madame Noire posts every Wednesday, and is guaranteed to provide insight, humor, ratchetness, anger, and conspiracy theory (and those are just the comments)

Panama is still holding it down at GuySpeak, a place where (I’ve heard) he’s much, much nicer than he is at VSB. Show the BFF some love.

Also, I’ve been named head editor of The Hill Review, a new literary magazine that’s set to launch in September. Founded and funded by The August Wilson Center, it will offer long-form essays, articles, critiques, fiction, excerpts, and even editorial cartoons. Basically, think The New Yorker with a focus on all things African-American culture. You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks. And yes, we’re unofficially accepting submissions right now. (Btw, I have no idea what “unofficially accepting submissions” even means.)

Lastly, I know we’ve done this a trillion times before, but each of us — Panama, Liz, and I — greatly appreciate all of the support you all have given us. Yes, we’ve put in a ton of work ourselves, but the success we’ve had and the doors this success has opened is largely due to VSB nation, and we’re forever indebted to you all and shit.

Thank you.

Anyway, people of, does anyone have any announcements to make? Any crazy 4th of July stories? Any planking pictures?

We’re all fam here and shit. Don’t be scared to share.

***1:25 am edit. Liz has a ton of awesomeness going on too, but she’s a bit less comfortable sharing in this space. Plus, she prefers to remain stealth. Easier for her to steal shit that way, I guess. Follow her at @calinative for the full Liz 411.***

—The Champ