The “I’m Lucky I’m Black” Passes: Things Black People “Get Away With” That Others Can’t
There’s an episode of “Louie” — the hilariously awkward and awkwardly hilarious FX series starring comedian Louie C.K. — where a older male police officer asks Louie for a kiss. The cop had just gotten Louie out of a tight jam, and the kiss would be the reward for that service. Since the cop was rather cool about the request (and since the cop seemed rather desperate), Louie obliges, planting a kiss on his lips. The cop thanks him, and they go about their ways.
Now, in real life Louie C.K. is by all accounts a heterosexual family man. In fact, much of his act (and much of the show) is based on him being a father and husband. But, even if this wasn’t true, even if we knew absolutely nothing about his personal life, most (reading) adults realize that actors occasionally have to, well, act, and that cop kissing scene alone wouldn’t be enough to convince anyone that he was homosexual.
Louie C.K. is also white¹, and his whiteness allows him a certain peculiar privilege, a privilege my girl (who was watching the show with me) quickly observed.
“It’s weird. That scene didn’t make me think twice about whether he was straight. But, if a black male comedian did the exact same thing, I can’t lie; I’d question whether he was completely straight. I know it’s a ridiculous double standard, but it’s true”
Although that statement wasn’t exactly politically correct, she was completely correct. Men like Jake Gyllenhaal and Matt Damon can star in movies like “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and still be considered 100% hetero, but black male actors aren’t afforded that same luxury. Sh*t, there are still bisexual rumors floating around about Will Smith, rumors stemming from a movie he did two decades ago.
This double standard goes beyond the silver screen. For instance, if I were to post some Facebook pics of a few white frat boys jokingly and drunkenly wrestling and hugging each other a bit too closely, your first thought would probably be “Eh. Typical crazy college white boys.” If these frat boys were black, however, the thought changes from “typical frat boys” to “typical Mean Girls of Morehouse.”
This, this “pretend gay” pass, is one of the myriad passes unique to white people, not as game-changing as the “get an easy bank loan” pass but definitely much more useful than the ultra annoying “if college aged, allowed to end every single sentence with an interrogative inflection” pass.²
But, since we’re already aware of the hundreds of thousands of “white” passes, I’m actually more curious about the “black” passes — things black people can get away with that whites (and other races) just can’t — and I thought of a few.
The “say somewhat insensitive things about other races and still feel no real repercussions” pass
Let’s just say that if I founded a website called VSR (Very Smart Rednecks) and allowed black people to be referred to as “1613’s” (Why 1613? Because the 16th letter in the alphabet is “P” and the 13th is “M,” and the PM stands for “Porch Monkeys”) in the comment’s section of said site, I most likely wouldn’t have made business cards advertising the VSR, I probably wouldn’t be so quick to put my real name on the cover of the VSR relationship book, and I definitely wouldn’t have rocked a Very Smart Rednecks t-shirt yesterday evening while taking some black people on a tour of my apartment.
The “beat our kids in public” pass
At the extra snooty Whole Foods two blocks down the street from my place, I once saw an entire checkout line full of people stare down and ice grill a woman just because she forcefully grabbed the arm of her out of control child.
At the much more hood Giant Eagle a mile or so away, I once saw an entire checkout line nod their heads in appreciation and admiration as a woman forcefully choke slammed her not really all that out of control child.
The “I’m a grown ass man/woman who still needs some “time” before I’m ready to get married, and it’s perfectly ok” pass
Um, moving on…
The “wait, did you call me a n*gger???” pass
Donald Glover actually joked about this in one of his stand-ups, but once a black person has been the real (or perceived) victim of any type of racial injustice, we basically have carte blanche to do whatever the hell we want. Seriously, you can go to an Apple store and take a piss and full dump on every iPad, but not only would you get off if you tell the judge you thought Steve Jobs called you a n*gger, you’d probably be able to sue (and win!)
Anyway, people of VSB: did I forget anything? Can you think of any more “black” passes? Also, are there any “white” passes you’d trade one of your most valued black passes for?
¹He’s actually part Mexican, but since he looks white, that’s all that matters.
²Is this just a Pittsburgh-area thing, or do 18-25 year old white woman across the country all end each of their sentences with the same inflection they’d use if they were asking a question?
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