Black, White, Man, Or Woman?

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All the Women are White, All the Blacks are 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 perfectly encapsulates how a person could be physically Black or White or a Man or a Woman, but considered by most to be something else politically. Basically, while they’ll always maintain their physical attributes, they’ll be treated and regarded as something else. For instance, from a physical perspective, Clarence Thomas is undeniably and unambiguously Black. But, because of his political history, his 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 retaliated against the (White) establishment, he became Black again.

Anyway, Thomas and Dormer are just two prominent examples of this phenomenon  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 woman genuinely down for the cause: Good try, but always and forever a White woman

White woman who’s not even technically a White woman: I see your White ass. You can’t hide

Black male politician: Hmm. Depends.

Liberal Black male politician: Black

Liberal Black male politician with White wife: Still Black, but barely

Conservative Black male 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 nuanced portrayals 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”)

The Wackness Of The “Acting White” Myth

***This was originally published a few years ago, but a recent conversation with a very “convinced” Black conservative urged me to refresh and repost***

We’ve all heard the story before:

Black boy meets and falls in love with books, but anti-book Black classmates beat, berate, and ban him from all future block bbq’s for properly conjugating verbs, eating fat-free mayonnaise, and generally acting “White”.

Author Stuart Buck examined this phenomenon in Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegragration, an earnest attempt to understand the (worsening) academic progress of African-Americans in the years after schools were integrated. While I agree with many of the points made—especially the reference to the “soft prejudice of low expectations from racist teachers who assumed blacks weren’t capable and from liberals who coddled them“—this book ultimately disappoints for one simple reason: The title.

Let me explain.

Whether we’re accepting the “truth” that Black men marry out almost three times as much as Black women (despite the fact that the actual numbers—according to census stats, 3.7% of married Black American women and 8.4% of married Black American men had a non-Black spouse—show that there’s really not much of a discrepancy), or passing the news that 50 percent of all black women in Washington, D.C. have active herpes (even though the oft-cited study actually claimed that 48 percent of the Black women tested had just been exposed to the herpes virus—big, big difference), we have an annoying tendency to believe, recite, repeat, and spread chicken little statistical half-truths and scary campfire stories about ourselves regardless of how half-assed the “facts” happen to be, so, it doesn’t surprise me when others start to believe, recite, repeat, and spread these facts as well.

Perhaps the most dangerous of these bullshit memes is “The Danger of Acting White” idea, which basically states that high achieving Black children are routinely picked on by other Black children just because they’re high achievers…something that just doesn’t f*cking happen.

Yup, you read that correctly. It (high achieving Black children getting routinely picked on by other Black children just because they’re high achievers) doesn’t f*cking happen…at least not in the way it’s usually thought to, and here’s three reasons why.

***Before I continue, I just want to say that I do realize that there have been Black kids picked on and beat up (and worse) by other Black kids just because they happened to be good students. I’m also not attempting to minimize the very real fact that a disturbing sense of intellectual and academic apathy exists among far too many of us. All I’m saying is that this (Black kids getting picked on by other Blacks just because they’re smart) doesn’t happen as often as we’re lead to believe***

1. “Akeelah and the Bee”

One of the most ridiculously realistic movie scenes I’ve ever seen happens an hour or so into this movie. Burgeoning spelling bee champ Akeelah gets clowned and dismissed by her brother, Namond Brice, who also assumes that the neighborhood dopeboy he hopes to work for would find Akeelah’s spelling bee competition as simple and stupid as he does. Instead, the dopeboy gives Akeelah encouragement, tells Akeelah about the poems he used to write, and even orders Namond to help his little sister study.

This scene is ridiculous because the neighborhood dopeboy is played by The Rubberband Man, a guy who screams “thug” about as loudly as Donnie McClurkin screams “straight.” But, it’s realistic because this actually does happen. As anyone who’s actually lived in or taught at an inner-city school district will tell you, the school and neighborhood thugs are usually either indifferent towards or encouraging of kids that seem to have a bit of “talent,” whether it’s academic or athletic (as long as they don’t snitch, of course).

2. Smart kids don’t get picked on just because they’re smart, but…

…nerdy kids do, and, this happens everywhere, not just in the inner-city. Regardless of their socioeconomic or racial background, nerds get teased because, well, they’re nerds, and socially awkward kids are easy targets.

I know this seems obvious, but it just annoys me when people act as if nerdy kids are “allowed” to be nerds everywhere else except the hood. I’m amazed at how easily we’ve allowed this context-less meme to spread, especially since it basically calls us a nation full of crabs. Shit, there’s a reason “Revenge of the Nerdsis such a cult-classic. It’s a vicarious revenge fantasy for nerds, their opportunity to reverse the sh*t that happens to nerds everywhere, and it’s filled with gratuitous boob shots.

That’s actually two reasons, but you get my point.

3. Some Black people actually do act “White”…and they do deserve to be picked on

By acting “White” I’m not referring to using proper English, listening to Weezer instead of Weezy, or even dating outside of your race. But, there are people who do their absolute best to rid themselves of any apparent trace of Black culture, and those people deserve to be admonished.

I won’t go into too much detail about how exactly “doing your absolute best to rid yourself of any trace of black culture” is defined, but I will say that its definition is somewhat similar to porn’s: You know it when you see it.

Basically, just think of any character Rashida Jones has ever played in any movie.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Is It Ever “Ok” For Whites To Criticize Blacks?

Last weekend, one of my homegirls invited me to go see “The Dutchman” — a 45 minute long one act play that’s intended to serve as an allegory for Black/White relations in America. Since Saturday was the last day it would be playing at the Bricolage Theater — and since my particular form of bougie Blackness calls for me to witness or partake in at least one “serious” conversation about race per month to offset my affinity for bottomless mimosas — I couldn’t pass it up.

Intense, disturbing, (occasionally) melodramatic, and intentionally provocative, the play itself was pretty much what I expected it to be. The most interesting part of the evening, though, was the “talk back” — the planned, hour-long discussion about race that took place right afterwards; a conversation involving cast members, the theater production people, and the audience. The theater only holds maybe 60 seats, and it’s structured so that the audience surrounds the stage on all sides. A quick jaunt to Goggle shows that this is called “theatre-in-the-round” — the perfect format to have a group discussion.

As you may have guessed, the audience was (mostly) comprised of Black people and the type of ultra-liberal, well-intentioned Whites who wear t-shirts with things like “White Privilege Sucks” written on them — basically, the exact type of audience that’s always present in any “serious” and open discussion about race that most of us have been a part of. And, usually these discussions are nothing but us (Black people) sharing our stories and airing our grievances while the Whites in the crowd nod solemnly and occasionally share their own self-depreciating stories about when they first realized that all White people are evil racists.

There was one person, though, who didn’t stick to the usual script. She was biracial (White and Native American), and she shared some not-so-positive experiences and feelings involving Black people. Her statements went over about as well as a fart in a crowded elevator; you could hear people groaning and sighing while she was talking, and everyone there — myself included — couldn’t wait to respond to and rebut some of the things she was saying.

Now, part of the reaction to her definitely had to do with her delivery. There was a certain tone-deaf antagonism attached to what she was saying. Basically, her body language and tone screamed “I’m fed up with y’all niggas, and you’re about to hear why, dammit!” But, on Sunday, as I reflected on the discussion, I realized that she actually didn’t complain about anything we don’t regularly complain about to each other.

She’s a stage manager, and the story she shared had to do with how Black actors are pretty much never on time. Once, when she asked a group of habitually late actors to be more respectful of her time, they felt disrespected and starting showing up even later just to spite her. (I actually laughed aloud when hearing that)

Again, she had the type of tone and assistant principal-esque demeanor that made it pretty easy to see why someone would respond to her the way the actors did. But, I do wonder if we just have a legitimate problem with getting “called out” by White people.

Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t wonder about this. I know we generally do not take kindly to White people criticizing anything that has to do with Black people and Black culture. As stated earlier, the criticism could even be the exact same thing we criticize about ourselves, but a White voice seems to make that criticism invalid.

For instance, in the last couple of months, there have been at least two high-profile instances of a non-liberal White person publicly criticizing something related to Black people and facing serious repercussions because of it.

John Derbyshire’s “The Talk: Nonblack version” — a “letter” to his son teaching him the best way to avoid violent confrontations with Black people — got him fired from his job at The National Review. While Derbyshire deserved to be fired for using shitty science to back his race-based racist assertions, much of what he said in his piece has come out of our own mouths many times.

In fact, three of his pieces of advice — “(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally, (10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods, and (10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date” — are things that can be found in our freakin book.

In one of our chapters, Panama jokes that any guy trying to avoid having to fight anyone while on a date should stay away from places that young Black people congregate, like Applebee’s, night clubs, and Detroit.

You could make the same point about Naomi Schaefer Riley, who was recently fired from The Chronicle of Higher Education for writing a piece criticizing the value of Black Studies courses at universities. Was she wrong for flippantly dismissing an entire field of study? Yes. But, raise your hand if you’ve ever joked among other Black people that a Black Studies degree is about as useless as thumbs on a roach.

Granted, Riley and Derbyshire aren’t the best examples to use when making this point. Both were being intentionally sensationalistic, and they both basically got what they were asking for. But, it’s not only the non-liberal Whites who get this type of push back. I’ve read 1000 word long criticisms of Roger Ebert — a man who’s about as liberal, articulate, reasonable, and well-read as a person can possibly be — just because he gave a Tyler Perry movie a (deservedly) bad review, and I can’t count how many times I’ve heard White sports pundits called racist because they had something bad to say about a Black athlete. In these instances, the tone didn’t even matter. It just came down to “You’re White and he’s Black and that means you can’t say shit”

Anyway, that’s it for me today. I’m curious though: Do you think we have a problem with hearing criticism from Whites? If so, do you think it has more to do with the content of the criticism, or the tone/manner used to criticize?

Lastly, can you think of a time/situation where it was ever “Ok” for a White to call out a Black person/Black people in regards to something race-related?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

are you an interracial relationship racist?

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“I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom.”

louisiana judge keith bardwell, defending himself after refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple last week. obviously he’s lying, because no self-respecting black person would use his toliet after he publicly admitted to having piles

between krazy keith’s kracker kourtroom, the bill de blasio (a white politican who featured his black wife and biracial children in his campaign ads) article, and the noise over okcupid’s “here’s more proof that no one wants to date black women” blog, the past couple of weeks has seen a boon in the interracial romantic relationship discussion america likes to have every year before halloween.

despite usually good intentions, these conversations tend to hit a wall because most people, scared of being branded a racist, are loathe to publicly admit how much of a factor race plays in their feelings about dating and relationships.

of course, by “most” i mean “liberal white”, because everyone else has accepted the fact that a little relationship racism isn’t neccesarily a bad thing. like condiments and p*rn, relationship racism is best used with light sprinkles.

still, in regards to interracial relationships, some of us has a tendency take it a bit too far. take the vsb.com interracial relationship racism test today to see exactly where you stand

1. you’re single, and a physically attractive and nice “other race” co-worker has expressed interest in you. do you?

a) cautiously flirt (+5)

b) ask them why they’re so interested in you. before they respond, remind them of their people’s history of questionable sexual practices. when they’re done, report them to hr, and pee in their coffee (-15)

2. you’re on your first “interracial” date. during dinner, do you discuss?

a) why you two can never, ever, ever procreate (-8)

b) minor superfical racial differences (ie “whats with ya’ll and all that damn rye bread?”) (-2)

c) jello (+3)

3. angelina jolie should be…

a) sainted for adopting all of those kids (+4)

b) in better movies and/or my bed (+1)

c) shot for letting sahara out in public with a birds nest on her head (-3)

4. i tend to date those who…

a) kind of favor my ***insert opposite sex parent*** (+1)

b) are most mentally and spiritually compatible with me (+7)

c) have also been accused of hate crimes. no convictions though (-6)

5. you find out that your (male) boss is in an interracial marriage. your opinion of him

a) doesn’t change (+9)

b) changes favorably (-5)

c) changes, but the change depends on whether they’re a black or white man (-10)

6. people who exclusively date interracially

a) should be free do to whatever they want (-3)

b) are the target audience of my blog (-6)

c) might have some self-hate issues, but who am i to judge? (+2)

7. which three word phrase best describes your feelings about interracial relationships?

a) love is blind (+1)

b) black (or white/red/yellow) is beautiful (+2)

c) shank that bitch (-11)

if you scored…

(21+) you officially have no interracial relationship racist bones in your body. kumbayla and sh*t, you color-blind bastard

(12-20) if interracial relationship racism were “breasts” you’d be sanaa lathan. not alot there, but enough to notice

(6-11) you’re officially a pretending-ass, pandering piece of sh*tty ambivalence. good job, trader joe

(5 or below) why are you even here? shouldnt you be out writing a book or protesting the color orange or some sh*t?

people of vsb.com, where’d you score?

are you an interracial relationship racist, and do you think that a bit of relationship racism has a place in the dating game?

—the champ

post-racial slur survivor

s_watermelon

its been two years since the NAACP officially “buried” the word nigger. deemed “the greatest child racism ever birthed“, nigger had a full funeral replete with a procession, a eulogy, and a rare sighting of a standing christine beatty to symbolically put an end to the power behind that word.

even before this strange act, post-racial bigots already put that word on waivers, realizing that you just can’t go around calling everybody niggers anymore (unless, of course, you’re ghostface killa or frank sobotka). in its place are dozens of terms, phrases, code words, epithets, and idioms; synonyms for “black” lingering around the american lexicon and causing more uneasiness and deferred discomfort than an ugly baby.

today, with your help, verysmartbrothas.com will begin to put an end to this phenomenon with our first ever installment of post-racial slur survivor

the champ will list 11 of his favorite post-racial racist code words and slurs, and we’ll decide in the comments which term will officially be voted out and buried in the plot next to nigger

1. communist/socialist

—although this coding seemingly surfaced overnight, america has a long and storied history of branding educated blacks as anti-american anarchists perpetually plotting towards the country’s demise (which we are...but thats besides the point.)

2. urban

—a term that’s become so synonymous with black that six months ago, a group of arkansas businessmen petitioned to boycott the entire city of little rock when hearing of plans to open an urban outfitters there, saying that the retail chain’s title “promoted crime and miscegenation”¹.

3. church groups (from trenton)

just read and weep. or laugh.

4. inner-city

—am i the only one who’s felt that the connotation of inner-city doesn’t just suggest “they live in the city” but that cats live inside the city? like we actually live inside of stairwells, sewers, and streetlights and sh*t?

yea? ok, moving on

5. at risk

—although usually used by educators to describe certain school districts and neighborhood populations, “at-risk” itself is so ambiguous that it can be applied to basically anyone.  i mean, why can’t you describe a college freshman class as being at-risk even though the risk they’re facing is chlamydia?

6. thug

although it originally derives from the thuggee’s of india, the term has become so racially charged that espn.com and other websites have actually begun to censor it out of the comments on it’s articles. we tried doing that here as well, but liz our moderation is racist

7. illegal/foreigner/muslim

—code words that serve as reminders for a bigots prevailing feeling that minorities are america’s mother-in-laws: needy, unwelcome visitors with bad food, strange hair, and gout

8. affirmative action/quota

—terms used by those conveniently forgetting that white women exist

9. regular/hard-working

—while these terms aren’t used to describe blacks per se, they are used to imply what blacks are not. a politician or pundit making a reference to “regular, hard-working americans” is basically saying “not niggers”.

the same could be said for “trustworthy”. but, since i don’t trust most of ya’ll niggas either, i can’t fault them for that one

10. n-word

—this isn’t really any type of racial code. i just really, really, really hate this f*cking word.

11. ghetto

—used when inner-city isn’t quite black enough to accurately describe “black”. its almost like it implies “no, not just black. really, really black. superblack. ultrablack. uberblack. so black that if you turn off all the lights, all you’ll see is a d*ck and some teeth”

people of vsb.com, vote for which term you’d most like to see buried next. remember, you can only choose one. also, since i know i haven’t covered them all, please feel free to mention any write-in candidates you’d like to nominate.

the carpet is yours and sh*t

¹i’m lying. admit it, though. you can totally see that happening

—the champ