The More Racist I Get, The More White People Love Me, And I Don’t Know How I Feel About This! » VSB

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The More Racist I Get, The More White People Love Me, And I Don’t Know How I Feel About This!

While The Wife Person and I were sitting on our front stoop yesterday evening, a middle-aged White man on a scooter rode past, noticed me on the steps, stopped in the street, and screamed “Governor! It’s called a governor!

I replied.

Oh, ok. Thanks!

And then he rode away on his scooter.

Clearly perplexed by this exchange, The Wife Person shot a “Wtf was that about?” look at me. I explained that I’d seen that guy in the gym an hour or so earlier, and we struck up a conversation about cars, and he was trying to think of the name of the device placed in some cars to limit their top speed, but was stumped. A speed governor is the name of that device.

She shook her head and laughed.

“You have the weirdest life.”

“How so?”

“Because you’re super duper racist. But the more racist you get, the more White people love you. You could publish something called ‘White People Need To Fuck Off’ tomorrow and White people will read it and come up to you like ‘Thank you for telling me to fuck off, Damon! I’m not quite sure how exactly to fuck off, though, so can you give me some directions?

This has been a bit of a recurring joke with us. Over the past couple years, as the number of people who read, share, and cite my work has continued to grow, I get approached with increasing frequency by White people who just want to tell me they’re fans. Sometimes, they just want to talk. Yesterday, it happened three times. Twice while working at a coffee shop that afternoon, and once while walking the Feminist Octopus around the neighborhood that evening. Now, three times in one day is extremely rare. Most weeks, it might happen two or three times total. But even that is jarring, especially when juxtapositioned with the fact that I’m only like three years removed from still occasionally getting the “Oh…that’s cute, I guess” face from people when they learned I had a blog.

And while The Wife Person was joking about me becoming more racist (well, half joking, because #whitepeoplemustbestopped), I doubt it’s a coincidence that the more intentionally racial my writing has become become, the more I’ve been recognized and lauded by random White people, who’ve offered me jobs, coffee, lunch, liquor, fellowships, smiles, hugs, and once even a recurring playdate with my daughter and their kids.

Now, I don’t particularly dislike this type of attention, as it exists in concert with a literal increase of value. Having people read your shit, enjoy your shit, and offer you shit in appreciation is better than no one reading it. I will take the trade off of being known and having opportunities and losing anonymity a thousand times out of a thousand over remaining anonymous, opportunity-less, and hitting the East Liberty Trader Joe’s at lunch once a week to gorge on free samples and save money. Also, to be fair, these interactions are always pleasant and I do appreciate them. But I can’t deny the surreality of writing “Fuck White People” on Monday and then getting run up on by a dozen smiling and jolly White people on Tuesday, like I’m about to get initiated into the Gluten-Free Crips.

Why” I find myself asking myself “aren’t they more offended by what I’m saying?

Even as I ask this question, I recognize its inherent strain of self-defeating and self-doubting self-deprecation. I know that my work attempts to address the concept of Whiteness — and how it was created to hierarchize, subjugate, and plunder — instead of individual White people. (Unless they deserve it, of course.) And I know that there are White people who genuinely appreciate the type of trenchant race-related commentary and comedy I attempt to create, and aren’t so sensitive to any focus on race and White people that regards Whiteness in an unflattering light that they immediately dismiss it (or me) as racist. Thinking “Why aren’t these White people more offended by me?” is essentially the same as me assuming my work isn’t nuanced enough to be appreciated.

Still, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if I exist as some sort of perpetual absolution machine, where they insert quarters and compliments and receive penance by retweeting my pieces. Or maybe perhaps I’ve been chosen by them to be That Nigga Who Explains Race Shit To White People because my insights maybe aren’t as incisive as I believe them to be. Maybe the sword I believe I wield is just a serving spoon.

The Wife Person thinks I might be overthinking this. And while she’s amused by it, she believes I’m approached and liked because I’m just approachable and likable and people just appreciate the quality of my work. And I believe her, mostly. Because I’m a nice-ass nigga. But then I go to a neighborhood coffee shop to write a piece about the absurdity of writing the shit I write about and having White people adore it (and me). And I’m interrupted mid-piece — literally while writing this paragraph — by a White man who notices the “I Love Bougie Black Girls” pin on my shirt, thinks its the best thing he’s ever seen, and asks where he can get one. I tell him, but since I have dozens of them, I just give him the one I’m wearing. He yelps “Oh my God! Thank you!” and offers me some money for it. I tell him I’m good. He insists, reaches into his pocket, and excitedly places two dollars at the table I’m sitting at. “It’s the least I can do” he says, and leaves soon after.

10 minutes later, its still sitting there. Not because I haven’t had a chance to pick it up. But because it, well, it kinda, sorta feels like blood money, and I’m not sure if I want to touch it.

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • It’s the Bob Marley/Public Enemy thingy- The more you tell them how foul, messy, and misguided they are over dope beats the more they love you!
    #Oneofdemgoodproblems

    • BrothasKeeper

      Can’t truss it.

      • Brother Mouzone

        Well, just Shut em Down.

      • Brown Rose

        Fight the power.

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      NWA too.

      • Cheech

        Well, except for the misogyny.

        • TheUnsungStoryteller

          Are you sure about that? I swear they think that we are the only ones that display misogyny in our lyrics when they are the main ones abusing their wives, sisters, cousins, women-they-want-to-sleep-with. Plus, country music.

          • Cheech

            Oh, I was only speaking for myself. I can get behind Fuck Tha Police. But not Bishes Ain’t Skrit.

            • TheUnsungStoryteller

              Gotcha.

          • pls

            I WISH I COULD LIKE THIS 1000 TIMES! There is one group of people that have a history of terrorizing everyone else on the literal planet, yet weeeeeee have an issue resorting to violence.

  • siante

    This post immediately reminded me of my childhood confusion about Archie Bunker being a “thing” for so long.

    • That whole set up with that show was smart TV.

      • siante

        That’s what I keep hearing. I’m gonna have to catch this on Youtube now that I’m old enough to get this kind of humor.

    • The thing is that the area Archie Bunker was set in was where I went to HS. Watching that show rings a bit too true because I understand the whole thought process behind dudes like that.

      • siante

        Maybe that’s why my family loved it so much too? It’s a NY thing I suppose.

  • Cj

    Maybe it’s because they aren’t ready to be ostracized by their own for saying what you say even though they’re thinking it. Also, some people legit like being told tf off. One thing for site is you keep it so real and that’s rare.

  • StillThatBitxh

    white ppl are suckers for pain lol.

  • Brass Tacks

    No lie. I’ve been complimented on my IluvBBG shirts by white women fairly often. It’s weird saying thank you to someones genuine compliment, when nothing about the shirt you are wearing says anything about them.

    It’s perplexing.

    • Hadassah

      So long as you keep it moving…or do you need help moving?

      • You Know I’m Sawcy

        Right? Like, why’s he even stopping long enough to hear the compliments? Push through, Brass.

        • Hadassah

          Girrrrrl, I don’t even know why he is creating dissertations in his head about a compliment. But what do I know.

        • Hadassah

          Girrrrrl, I don’t even know why he is creating dissertations in his head about a compliment. But what do I know.

          • Spicy Kas

            You ma’am, crack me zee fuck up

            • Hadassah

              Laughter is good for the soul my dear.

    • Maybe they enjoy seeing black love and hope you will share some with them.

      • Brass Tacks

        Lol!

        • In all seriousness (and going back to another point James Baldwin makes), other races tend to see black love as mainly physical and primal. This is because, he argues, white supremacy demands a staid and patrician view on love and marriage. They see black love as offering more freedom, yet being less worthy of belonging in a free society.

          The belief is racist because it assumes black folk have no other reasons than chex for holding a intimate relationship together. Our oppression makes our love simple versus granting the responsibility of familial piety and self actualization whites assign to their romantic relationships.

          • Brown Rose

            Your second paragraph is eloquent. I think it goes back to the believe that many Whites have of Blacks as subhuman. Or as pets. I mean there was a whole cultural subtext that goes back centuries of being with a Black person is kin to bestiality.

            • Exactly. A beast never moves beyond procreation and physical pleasures.

              But black love is more than uninhibited chex. It’s about being a safe zone for self actualization- and the loyalty that creating such a safe zone requires.

    • TCB

      Replete with tricep touches, amirite?

      • Brass Tacks

        How you know? And what’s with that anyway?

        I actually had a woman grab my triceps while I was helping an elderly neighbor carry her groceries up a flight of stairs.

        • You Know I’m Sawcy

          I’m bout to knit you some sleeves, Brass.

        • TCB

          Because I know n*gga.

        • blueevey

          They’re flirting

    • IDontKnowAnyMore

      I wonder if people actually like the concept behind it more than anything else. I wonder if it’s type of comfort level that’s cute and acceptable to them.

    • anti galleta

      …it should say BBC,because that is what they love.

  • Skegeeaces

    You know how they say children and teens will test boundaries because they secretly long for someone to care enough to discipline them and set them straight? Maybe racists long to have someone buck against them because they secretly know they ain’t sh*t and long correction.

  • Ess Tee

    I remember Ta-Nehisi Coates talking about this. It really must be that you’re White folks’ race absolutionist (is that even a word?). For many, you may even be their Black friend in their head or something.

    Or maybe they’re all Nelson Van Alden and you’re the tool they use for self-flagellation.

    • blueevey

      They like him because they can pt to the work and say, not me. I don’t do that. I’m cool. I read Damon on vsb and therefore I’m down

  • Rome3000

    Damon is basically literary shea butter for white people.

    • MsCee

      So reading VSB as a whyte person qualifies you as “woke af?”

      • Brown Rose

        Of course. Its fat free allies.

      • pls

        they don’t have to actually be woke, just express a desire to.

  • Photoshop’s a helluva drug

    I get it man. I’m like Chris Rock’s Uncle B who was racist and married to a white woman. My best friend of 15 years is a born on the farm redneck. And when the race war comes I’ll kill him and take all those guns he has stockpiled to kill more white people.

    Just kidding….sorta.

  • Wizznilliam

    YO!.. Don’t fall for it son. You know that’s how they got Malcolm right? He go to Mecca and them white FBI straight played with his mind… Came back all Kumbaya.. I’m only slightly kidding btw.

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