It’s A Black Thing?: What Had Happened Was…


I have a question. Like a real one too.

I’m going to ask this for education purposes, intellectual reasons, and overall curiosity satisfaction. Creep with me:

Has anybody ever heard a non-Black person say, “what had happened was…”?

I’m serious. Kind of. I mean, I’m sure somebody else has said it. And by somebody else I mean a person who doesn’t celebrate Black History Month. Like Don Lemon. But is there any more statement that is so “Black” in nature? Like, short of my personal favorite, “I wish a motherf*cker WOULD do xyz…”

Quick aside: I actually do be wishing motherf*ckers would do such ‘n such. Like I have sat in my bed at home before, eyes clenched holding my comforter tight, asking and hoping somehow someway could it be arranged for X person to do Y thing JUST so I could act a complete donkey. I try not to pray about it because that just seems wrong. Then again, since I’m not praying, it rarely, if ever, comes to fruition because, well won’t he do it. God be knowin’ y’all or nah?

I still be wishing a motherf*cker would though; I can’t stress that enough.

Back to the lecture at hand though. While I can’t say that I know as many non-Black folks as others, and all of those that I do know have spent considerable time around The Blacks, I do wonder if that’s just a…ya know Black thing (and you wouldn’t understand).

Let me take a quick step back here. I’m fascinated by the evolution of language. For instance, I don’t know if you people realize this – I’m sure you do but why would you ever think about it – but we went as a species from communicating by saying “uggggggghghgh” to words like “onomatopoeia”. Do you realize how much occurred to get from one point to the other? Like, why is a door a “door”? These things keep me up at night. Language if fascinating. It’s also why I take such issue with other folks issues with words like “conversate” and “irregardless”, etc, two words that I’m fairly certain are considered uniquely Black though it is completely understandable how any one might arrive at both word usages. I’m not here to argue for them since I’ve already done that in a previous post.

People get very dogmatic about which words aren’t appropriate, whereas I couldn’t care less. I’m a creative…new words are what’s hot in these streets. Especially if you manage to put 3 or more words together to make an even more awesomer word like travashamockery. <— not a real word, but you understand exactly what’s being said there. Genius.

I’ve meandered and veered clean off the path I was heading down. That yellow brick road? Full of redbones. Bong bong. Das racist.

Back again to the lecture at hand. So words and phrases are created and divied up at the Ethnic Word Convention and it seems that Black folks ended up with “what had happened was…” It’s almost a rite of passage. Even the most bougie (“r” or no “r”) has likely uttered this.

I heard a coworker sound like he was going to give it a run one day but he left out the most crucial word in the statement. Buddy of the caucasian persuasion left out the “had”. He, trying to be funny, merely said, “what happened was…” and other coworkers laughed like I’ve laughed when somebody has lobbed out the infamous “what had happened was…” which makes me believe that while the sentiment is the same, there really is a “Black” way to say that thus making it a “Black” statement.

Granted, this all matters not in the grand scheme of things and a brother was pontificating this evening while looking at the moon when something happened that caused me to say, to another soul, that what had happened was…

Well this really all got me to thinking of what are statements that are uniquely Black, white, or other (Father forgive me for being too lazy to list out every other ethnicity like Aleutian Eskimo, etc). I presume that certain statements like, “I’d like a loan for $50,000 unsecured, right now” would be, ya know, white, but I’m sleep.

So what do you smart people have on my gas money? First, have you ever heard anybody non-Negro say “what had happened was…”? And further, what are some uniquely ethnic phrases across the board. And yes Puerto Ricans, the whistle counts.

Help me with my curiosity. PJ out.


As Long As You Shut The F*ck Up, You Can Be As F*cked Up As You Want

You can feel like this, my n*gga, but you can't say that sh*t, my n*gga.

You can feel like this, my n*gga, but you can’t say that sh*t, my n*gga.

The recent “flap” over New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s “controversial” use over the word boy in a speech he was giving at a Black church just proves how words can be your undoing. Granted, Gov. Christie isn’t catching too much flack for it, but still, the story that he used the word “boy” towards an African-American man made the media rounds on Twitter which is like yelling fire in a crowded room – pretty soon the fire actually exists and Brick will have killed a guy.

And Lil Wayne will have died.

To be clear, I’ve watched the clip numerous times and there’s no way you can convince me he was calling the guy “boy”.

Anyway, I’m going to make a fairly significant leap here into something that I thought about whilst picking a dandelion the other day on a particularly warm March day:

As long as you don’t say anything particularly controversial, then you aren’t controversial.

And the crowd said, “duh”. So what do I mean? Glad you asked.

Let’s paint a scenario. If I’m a white man and I never ever date another person outside of my race, or don’t really interact with other people of other races, does that make me racist?

I don’t think so. I think it just makes you white in America. That’s totally possible. Hell, if you live in South Dakota that might be your entire existence. Forever. And that’s okay. Just because options exist doesn’t mean you have to take them…right? Everybody’s got their own prejudices and biases anyway. Hell I don’t like women with one gray eye and one grey eye. The vowel change really bothers me.

But the second you utter the words, “I don’t date people of other races.” Or even, “I really don’t date Black people” then, well, congratulations, you’re a racist. And not even the fun kind like, like the kind who can appreciate Black women hugging. So here’s my point, while you might be a racist at heart, you ain’t a racist until you say some racist sh*t. Which also translates into many other facets of life. Such as?

Glad you asked.

“I don’t really want to date a handicapped person.”

I’ve heard this with my own two ears. I got what the person was saying when they said it. Hell I understand it. But you just can’t saaaaaaaaaaaay that sh*t out loud. You just can’t. No amount of volunteer work at the Special Olympics or backtracking is going to make you sound like anything but a total douchebag. Which is probably unfair since I think most people tend to be about that status quo lifestyle. Status quo kind of implies “whole” person. But, again, if you say it, you just sound like a douche.

“Those people….”

There is almost never a good way to use the term “those people…” and it not turn off somebody listening to you. And why is this? Well because 174 percent of the time that the words “those people” are being used its in order to draw a distinction between yourself and whoever it is your speaking about. This group usually includes but is not limited to midgets, Black people, immigrants of color, Muslims, gypsys, circus performers, rappers (of all colors), Asians at top tier institutions or in the hood, Black people in Europe, any and all Afrians, etc. You get the point. Any group that can and has been maligned is usually who is being referenced in the “those people…”

However, it ALSO gets used in the other direction by liberals to include (but not limited to): Republicans, Tea Party activists, gun nuts, homophobes, heterophobes, phobes, White people that don’t live in urban areas, etc. You get the point.

Everyone’s a little bit racist.

“I’m glad slavery happened, otherwise we’d still be stuck in Africa.”

I’ve heard this said as well. And you know, amid this young man’s mis-informed and utter ridiculous statement, I knew what he was trying to say. It’s just stupid, inaccurate, and insanely dangerous. Which brings a point up that, silence is golden. If you ever have to say “I don’t know how to say what I’m trying to say” then you probably need not say it. Love 40. This statement was made in one of my classes at Morehouse. By a Black dude. And he got raked across the coals for it. Rightly. You just can’t say that on television.

Which reminds me of another statement I once heard in undergrad…

“We’re all judging, but if back in the day it was common for men to take and sleep with little boys, maybe it was just okay then.”

Again, I get what he was trying to say – don’t hate the player, hate the game – but there’s just no way to make some grand statements like that ever sound okay. Condoning child sexual abuse in a historical context is going to get you the side-eye like a motherf*cker. Trust me. And no, I didn’t say that, I side-eyed the sh*t out of the cat who said that.

For more direct examples of things you just can’t say out loud, revisit the #Steubenville conversations via Twitter the past few days.

So, good people of VSB, as language can ruin your life, what are some other examples of feelings you can have all the live long day, that you just can’t say out loud for fear of reprisal?



****BTW: If you purchased and received your VSB crewneck, could you take a pic for us and send it in to****

The People Vs. Conversate

I get the feeling that one of these ninjas conversates and the other one converses.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why some Black folks HATE the word “conversate” so much. In the reading ninja commrunity, hearing a Black person say “conversate” is akin to a white person using the word n-word. All of a sudden the sky opens up and the spirits of dead slaves pour down their disappointments and blackberry molasses upon the souls of Black folks. You know somethings will never change.

But really, what’s the big damn deal? I get it. It’s not a real word. (Sidenote: According to, it is commonly recognized as a word nowadays, who knew?) But we make up words all of the time. Look —-> trill.

I know for a motherlovin’ fact that a huge segment of the reading populace was runnin’ around talking about how “trill” things were. I know I was. There was even a southern d-boy argument about who came up with the term. That’s how serious it was. Granted it’s a slang term and perhaps that’s where the argument breaks down. Perhaps the big problem is the assumption that people using the word “conversate” don’t actually know any better. These ignant ninjas really are ignorant. There’s no joke. No punchline. They’re allegedly using it because they don’t know that it’s “converse”. But are they really? Put a pin in that, we’ll come back to it later.

Now, I could chalk that up to syntax and English snobbery. Hell, Twitter has proven that even the smartest of ninjas really have no idea how to spell common words and phrases they’ve been using for eons. This commonly riles people up, understandbly, I suppose. For example:

For all intensive purposes. I can’t tell you how many people I know with degrees show up on Twitter or Facebook and write that statement and effectively admit that they have no effin’ clue what it is that they’ve been really saying despite knowing how to use it.

Back to “trill” for a second and this idea of not knowing any better. While the reading ninja in me loves made up words, I also know when to use them. I won’t be sitting in a meeting with my boss and point out how “trill” a certain estimate of something is. It won’t happen. And I think we can safely assume that most reading ninjas won’t. But, again assuming, that the people who use “conversate” don’t know any better, maybe the fear is that they WOULD use that word, on purpose, in a setting where they’d make us all look bad. Is that it?

Understandably, somebody who uses conversate might likely use that word in any setting or circumstance, regardless of who’s present. Whereas I, again, know better. Here’s another monkey wrench – does it carry more weight if a white person says it? I’m asking because I get the impression that this isnt’ a Black thing, it’s a “conversate” thing. It’s a tricky English language thing. I can imagine a foreigner mistakingly thinking that two people have a “conversation”, but one person might “conversate” with another. Would anybody be upset if that happened?

To make that even more f*cked up, you go from “orientation” to “orientate”. Tell me that ain’t confrusing, Young Buck.

Let’s be real, English is one of the hardest languages to learn because of how many other languages we’ve pulled from. Not to mention the myriad homonyms, synonyms, etc. Hell, I can barely make it through some of the books like Souls of Black Folks because of the language use and I’m a motherf*cking honeybadger. We’re all aware of people who are extremely learned who don’t have a full grasp of the English language and all its nuance. And it’s not SUCH a huge leap to think that “conversate” is a real word. I mean, my ni**a, Converse iz and are shoes.

Hell, quick, quick…somebody define, without looking up: gerund.

But “conversate” is like nails on a chalkboard for many a ninja. It’s almost like the delineating point between ignant ninjadom and breaking out of the hood or something. In an odd twist of irony, I think I’ve jokingly heard “conversate” so much that I’ve had to check myself before to make sure that it wasn’t actually the right way to say “talk to a ni**a”.

Actually, that might be the legal definition of “conversate”.

Here’s another issue, I think “conversate” actually sounds better than “converse”. Unlike “irregardless” which clearly sounds horrible and is a double negative. But that all comes down to personal preference I suppose. And seeing as my ignorance is sophisticated, for all intensive purposes, I only use “conversate” in the midst of a powwow with somebody who eats #flamingyoung. Or who can at least appreciate what just happened there.

If you have no idea what #flamingyoung is, then you also have no idea what #theplate is and need to spend more time dealing with Black people who deal with other Black people who spend inordinate amounts of time on Twitter.

So VSBNation, I ask you, what’s the big damn deal with the hatred for the term “conversate”? And why do we seem to conflate it to mean so much more than it actually is?

Conversate with P.