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

obamaHello.

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.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. SAY HEFFA SAY WHAT?! aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Why We’d Hate Coming To America If It Was Released Today

coming

Although there are Black movies (“Black movies” = “movies featuring Black people and/or Black stories”) that are better (Malcolm X, Glory, Do The Right Thing, etc), more important (The Color Purple, Shaft, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, etc), and even funnier (Undercover Brother, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, The Original Kings of Comedy, etc), none are as universally beloved by us as Coming to America. 

While it’s not definitely not loved by every single Black person, there’s no doubt it would appear on more of our favorite’s lists than any other Black film. There’s even less doubt that, if we took a vote, “Queen to Be” could replace “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as our national anthem.

Yet, after re-watching it last weekend for the 367234th time, something dawned on me: If this movie was released in 2014, it would not receive the same love. In fact, many of us would hate it. Not all of us, of course. Many would still enjoy it. But, considering today’s general mood about comedy — where certain types of humor seems to have to pass through a gauntlet of arbitrarily determined standards before considered socially acceptable — there would be so much negative pushback towards it that even the people who loved it would be loathe to publicly admit it.

The pushback would start on Facebook and #blacktwitter weeks before the movie was even released, as word about the plot and the people involved would begin to circulate.

“A White director making a comedy about Africa? #nocountryforoldappropriation”

“Apparently, Arsenio is in a wig during a scene. And a dress. I couldn’t make this sh*t up if I tried. Does everyone in Hollywood hate Black women?”

As the release date neared, and media people started to attend advance screenings, thinkpieces would start to formulate on Slate, The Root, Clutch, EBONY, Jezebel, and (admittedly) VSB.

Coming to America’s Big, Fat Africa Problem: What The Movie Gets Wrong About African Immigrants, And Why It’s So Upsetting 

Queen To Be? Not If She’s Dark: Coming to America’s Disturbing Colorism 

Lisa McDowell, Feminist or Fake?

Homies or Homie/Lover/Friends? Akeem and Semmi’s Very Peculiar Bond

From Mop to Fries in Three Years: On Slave Wages and Cleo McDowell 

Was it Selfish For Eddie and Arsenio To Play Multiple Characters Instead of Hiring More Black Actors?

By the time the movie was set to be released, there would be so many petitions and protests against it that the studio would pull it from the theaters. WorldStarHipHop would buy the rights to it, replace Shari Headley and Allison Dean with Erica Mena and Dutchess from Black Ink, and release it in six 15 minute long installments on their site.

I don’t know if there would be a sequel. Perhaps there would be one 14 years after the original film was released. Who knows? I don’t.

I do know, though, that no one would ever sing “Queen to Be” at their wedding.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

What Happens When You Try To Explain America’s Angst About Interracial Relationships To An Alien From Outer Space

He thinks Mellie is misunderstood

He thinks Mellie is misunderstood

So, I have a secret to share.

I’ve had an alien living with me for the last couple of weeks. Not an illegal alien—remember, I live in Pittsburgh, and the population here is 20% Black, 50% White, and 30% Yinzer—but a real, actual alien from outer space. He came down to Earth on Halloween, and landed in my neighborhood, pretending to be a trick or treater. We met after he came past my house, asking for water.

I got it for him, and I knew something was up when he grabbed it with his ear. I straight up asked him “Are you an alien from outer space?” After a couple denials, he eventually fessed up, and admitted that he needed somewhere to crash until he got enough fuel to get back home. I offered him our spare bedroom. But he seems to be more comfortable sleeping in the bathtub.

Anyway, he’s been a pretty good houseguest so far. He makes the best lemonade I’ve ever had, he’s great with the dog, and both my girl and I have inexplicably grown two inches taller since he’s been here. (Strange, right?)

He’s also become very interested in both general and pop culture, and has developed a ravenous appetite for information, frozen cocktail sauce, and Scandal. (He says Huck reminds him of his cousin.) He even visits many of the same websites I do. So, you can imagine his confusion yesterday when finding this from the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen

“People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.”

(Yes, you read that correctly. In 2013, a columnist at one of the world’s most prestigious newspapers said interracial marriage makes people with “conventional” views—read: “normal” people—nauseous.)

As I said before, the alien has learned quite a bit about American culture in his time here, so he’s (somewhat) aware of our country’s star-crossed racial history. Still, our collective angst about interracial romance confuses him. We all look exactly alike to him, so it doesn’t make any sense.

So, yesterday, I tried to explain some things to him. A paraphrased version of our conversation is below. (The alien’s remarks are in bold)

So what’s the deal with you all and interracial relationships? Where does this angst come from?

That’s a very interesting question. I can give you a long answer or a short one. Which do you prefer?

How about an inbetween one?

That’s what she said.

Huh?

Nevermind. Ok. Well, first I have to make it clear that not everyone feels this angst. Some of us are perfectly fine with interracial relationships. But, those who aren’t tend to be quite vocal. And, their feelings can be summarized rather succinctly.

I like that word.

“Succinctly?”

No. “But.” It makes me laugh every time you say it. But. But. But. But. But. But…

Okaaaaaaay. Anyway, we’ve been here since like 1600 or something, but there have been legal limitations on what we’ve been able to do in this country until like 1964. Basically, we’re all still getting used to this “Black people are completely free after being restricted in some way for 400 or so years” thing, and there are some kinks. One of those kinks is a collective angst about Black and White people sleeping with and procreating with each other.

Black women feel the angst about Black men dating out because Black men choosing to be with White women reinforces the idea that White women are the ideal.

Black men feel the angst about Black women dating out because we kinda, sorta think we kinda own them, and them dating out proves we don’t

White men feel the angst about White women dating out because they kinda, sorta think they kinda own everything, and them dating out proves they don’t.

What about White women? What angst do they feel?

Interestingly enough, no one really cares what they think. Or, at least cares enough to ask them.

That’s sad. 

It is.

So, that gives some context to some of the pieces I’ve read about Scandal. Black men seem to be really upset about that show. I don’t understand why they would be. Kerry is so fierce. Her lips remind me of the moons around my planet.

Well, not all Black men are upset about Scandal. Most aren’t at all. Some don’t even know it exists. Some are even fans of the show. The ones who are upset about it, though, are just very vocal.

I’ll split them into three camps.

A) Men genuinely perplexed by Black women’s embrace of such a flawed character. (This is the smallest camp.)

B) Men feeling a certain way that Black women have collectively embraced such a powerful character who is rendered powerless by a White man’s gaze. (This is also a small camp)

C) Trolls. (This is the largest camp.)

Trolls?

Yes. Trolls.

What are trolls?

In this context, they’re people who take antagonistic positions for no other reason than to bother people. In the traditional context, they’re tiny mutants who live inside of trees.

So, trolls are basically just people who are on Twitter?

I guess that’s one way of putting it.

So, why would these Black men troll?

There’s a certain amount of antipathy held by some Black men towards Black women. And vice versa. Again, not all Black men and Black women feel this way. Most don’t, actually. But some do. And those who do take whatever opportunity they can to insult each other.

That kind of reminds me of a conflict on my home planet. The Beervianians and 8-ock 981 have been engaged in a civil war for 200 years. It all started when…

No one gives a fuck about all that.

You’re an asshole. 

No I’m not. Just human.

Anyway, why do these Black men and Black women feel this way about each other?

There is a lot of hurt there. Part is slavery residue. Part is a result of the breakdown of the Black family. Part is self-hate. And, part is from us never getting over Frank’s Place getting canceled.

The solution to all of this can apparently be found in the linear notes of Dr. Dre’s Detox. Which is why it keeps getting pushed back by the Illuminati.

(Part 2 coming later.)

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

America F*ck Yeah: Help! I’m Middle Class in Washington, DC

You think they're helping her with homework. What's really happening is daddy is telling her that she has two years max in private school. She's got to pick the two years and promise to make the most of them. After that, public school my ninja.

You think they’re helping her with homework. What’s really happening is daddy is telling her that she has two years max in private school. She’s got to pick the two years and promise to make the most of them. After that, public school my ninja.

You know, if I lived in Toledo, I’d probably be winning. Or maybe Des Moines. Consequently, if I lived in Detroit, I’d be Supreme Ruler Almigh-ty. But as luck would have it, I live in Washington, DC. This means that though the IRS thinks that I’m affluent, I’m really not. I’m more like getting by on good looks, charm, and my job. See, I’m one of those middle class folks who lives a nice middle class life, though in as urban a setting as possible. One time at bandcamp, somebody left a grocery cart from our neighborhood grocery store at the mailbox. It’s possible that whoever left it was trying to mail a shopping cart to a relative. It’s also possible that I’m too sexxy for my shirt, so sexxy it hurts. Neither of which is true.

While my education, and therefore, employment have afforded me luxuries such as a nice townhome that costs the price of a good-sized estate in most Southern states and a vehicle with great gas mileage, I also have a child. This means that I’ve got to deal with the most daunting task that any middle class person is forced to wrassle with: education.

Le f*ck.

Let me tell you something. You people without children are dodging all types of bullets in these streets. See, my daughter’s mother and I are both very well-educated and very well employed. We’re also just smart people. Genetically, it seems like we may have hit the lottery in regards to my child’s intelligence. She’s whipping piano’s arse and taking names. She’s beastmoding her Pre-K education, and clearly well above a significant number of her classmates in aptitude at this point. She’s not in public school, but a charter school, and people in DC will tell you what a battleground the charter vs public school war has become.

Can I be frank? Thank you, Frank. Save for a scant few, DC public schools leave much to be desired…by almost anybody. This is why charter school enrollment has exploded in this city in the past 10 years. My daughter is in a KIPP school. Have you seen Waiting For Superman? One of the schools profiled was a KIPP school and it’s a wonderful environment,place, and setting. But let’s be real, for special children who are a little bit smarter than the average bear – in major urban centers – you really need to send your kid to a private school. It’s not that the teachers and administrators can’t teach your kid; it’s just that when you have a child with an insatiable desire to learn – such is the case with Young Panamontana – you run into the need to feed the beast, so to speak.

Except, have you seen the prices for private school? Holy rusted metal, Batman. Thus far, it seems like the average annual price of tuition is in the $20-$25K range. That doesn’t even include the fees for entry and special stuff that kids who go to private schools do. I have no earthly idea how people pay for these things. Seriously. But there they go with straight face and nary a “gotcha!” in sight asking me to drop for a year what Rick Ross spends in one night at King of Diamonds (not clue whose return on investment will go further as of press time). Given my salary and apparent caste in life, I’m trying to figure out how somebody who does pretty doggone well is supposed to legitimately drop that kind of dough for a child’s education. Which, again, the return on investment is questionable at this point. Pretty much at my daughter’s age, you’re paying for security, access to resources, and…umm, lack of diversity.

Which is a whole other beast. See, you may not know this, but I’m Black. My daughter’s mother is also Black. So my child is…

…class?…

…Black. Private schools seem to be notoriously not Black. I have a problem with this. Forgive me for what I’m about to say but remember, half of my family is also white.

Ready?

Little white privileged kids seem to be some assholes. I’m afraid of turning my child into one or having her end up feeling outcast-ed because she’s the token. But you know what else sucks? She’s an outsider at her own school too. So I’ve got a different child (all positive though…you don’t want it with Hov), who has already proven to be gifted who is in need of a challenge so as to maximize her intelligence while maintaining a social balance so she gets to be a normal kid too.

Mind you, these are all good problems to have. But they are problems nonetheless. I’ve spent my educational years working to get to this point where I’m a bit too far beyond my public school options but have not quite made it far enough to avail myself of the private school options. I can’t walk into any office and claim to be a parent in need. One look at my W-2 and they may charge me for the visit.

At one point, I decided to move into the Southeastern section of DC. I bought a house there eventually. SE is the Black part of town and also, perception-wise, the bad part of town. Crime happens here, but this is DC so it happens all over the city. But perception is a motherlover so my part of SE – east of the river – remains the non-gentrified part of the city no matter what the newspapers and optimistic idealists try to tell you. Either way, I, a highly educated, well paid, employed individual was trying to move into SE.

I called no less than 5 apartment complexes and was met with various, “you make too much money to come live here.” messages. So let me get this right…I wanted to move into the part of town with my people, but I made too much money to do so. But I didn’t make enough money to live in the “desirable” part of town either. Not by myself and looking for at least a 2 bedroom apartment.

So I’m too broke for the well-to-do, and make too much for the rest of the populace, and my taxes subsidize programs I’ll never qualify for to use. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a way to make sure my child gets the education she deserves that for the next 10+ years can run me nearly $200K before she even gets to college.

Basically, Panamontana needs to get a job. Even if daddy is considered affluent by the people who take 38 percent of my pay check.

I’m middle class in DC.

America. F*ck yeah.

Miley Cyrus’s Funhouse Mirror of Black America

robin-thicke-miley-cyrus-gif-mtv-vmas-2013

***The Champ’s latest at Complex touches on Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, race, class, and…Superman***

“To them and people like them, hip-hop is simplistic, pathological, and (most importantly) Black. Too Black. Inescapably, undeniably Black. And, anything that Black cannot possibly be artistic. I no longer feel the need to remind them that that hip-hop is a Harvard fellowship, a movie score, and a quarter billion dollar tour deal negotiated in a throwaway verse. Although hip-hop remains inherently iconoclastic, it has a stout enough resume to be genuinely iconic. It is no longer the music your parents just don’t understand. Your 52 year old dad was 18 when “Rapper’s Delight” dropped; your 72 year old grandmother listens to “Umi Says” when she crochets.

Miley Cyrus was not alive when “Rapper’s Delight” dropped. She was three when Tupac died. Four when Wu-Tang Forever made fatigues and fishermen’s caps high fashion. She is very, very, very young. And while youth isn’t an excuse to culturally appropriate without any discernible sense of context, I just can not get too upset at any act done by any post-teen that doesn’t involve murder or my Chipotle burrito. Somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerking, and I don’t give a fuck.

Actually, let me rephrase that. I wouldn’t give a fuck about her twerking, her use of Black dancers as seesaws, her tongue, or her unauthorized use of “homie” if they existed in a vacuum. Context matters, though. It does not seem to be a coincidence that Cyrus’ very public shift in behavior occurred soon after asking Timothy and Theron Thomas to create a “Blacker” sound for her; a request that that eventually led to the ubiquitous “We Can’t Stop”—a track whose video became a national Rorschach test for feelings about race, class, and ass.

“If there are 40 million Black Americans” says Henry Louis Gates Jr. “then there are 40 million ways to be Black.” To Cyrus, though, Blackness seems to correlate with ratchetness. The fact that she’s become music’s Most Very Relevant Important Person At The Moment by doing this doesn’t add insult to injury as much as it reinforces the idea that Blackness is an accessory. A prop. The clown hats, lenseless glasses, and plastic machine guns available at wedding photo booths. It’s post-racial the same way a Prius with a Charger engine in its trunk is a muscle car.

She wakes up every morning as Miley Cyrus, the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, and one of the few mega famous child stars to successfully make a post-childhood transition to continued stardom. The costume she dons—the ratchetness, the minstrelsy, the hood language so over the top it borders on parody—is her idea of what it means to be more Black. Miley Cyrus is Clark Kent, and Miley Cyrus’ Clark Kent is a funhouse mirror of Black America.”

***Read the rest at Complex***