“Yes, I’m Black (And I Write For EBONY). No, I Don’t Want To Talk To You About Race” » VSB

Pop Culture, Race & Politics

“Yes, I’m Black (And I Write For EBONY). No, I Don’t Want To Talk To You About Race”


***The Champ’s latest at EBONY discusses why he’s not always interested in having race-related conversations with White people***

As soon as Mike learned I co-founded a website called VerySmartBrothas.com, work for EBONY.com, and frequently write about race and culture, his eyes lit up, and a strange look formed over his face. For Black people who do what I do and happen to find themselves at bars with conservative but “well-intentioned” White people who find out what you do and don’t interact with Black people that often, that look is unmistakable.

“Oh sh*t! A smart Black person! I can finally unleash all these thoughts about Obama, crime, Trayvon, democrats, MSNBC, “the Black community,” Don Lemon, and Al Sharpton! Let me buy him a round, and let’s talk about race!”

I obliged. We spoke about racism and the fallout from the Zimmerman verdict. Although I had to correct his “facts” a couple times, it was a good conversation. Actually, calling it a “good conversation” would be underselling it. Even while we were talking, I recognized how rare it is to have two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum sitting down, having a beer, and just sharing what’s on their minds. (An actual, completely organic Beer Summit!)

Yet, after 10 minutes or so, I took a gap in the conversation do to the “Well, it was nice meeting you.” thing people do when they want to end conversations, and started talking to other people. A couple minutes later, he came over and apologized, obviously thinking I left because he offended me in some way. I told him not to worry about it, and he walked away, still bothered.

What Mike failed to realize was that just because this was his rare opportunity to talk to a “smart” Black guy about those touchy race-related subjects doesn’t mean that smart Black guy actually wants to have the conversation right then and there.

Yes, I am very interested and invested in race, racism, and the effect bias has on our behavior and our culture. It literally fascinates me. Yes, I talk about those subjects frequently, and write about them even more frequently. And yes, I recognized the importance of Black and White people actually speaking to each other about this stuff instead of shouting at.

But, I came to that bar to drink, laugh, and talk about basketball, BBQ burger recipes, and the bartender’s ass…not George f*cking Zimmerman.

Read more at EBONY.com

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.

  • Val

    “…conservative but “well-intentioned” White people…”

    Do these people really exist?

    • Hank Hill?

      • Val

        Yep, Hank may be the only one. Lol. I just started watching that from season 1 on netflix.

        • Hank may have been the whitest character in the history of American TV. Dang it!

  • Ms Butterfly

    I know this feeling. I’m always conflicted about when to walk away. I always have to walk away bc at some point that white person will inevitably want me to say something to placate their ego or absolve them for some past racial injustice, or try to explain to me why something that is obviously racist isn’t really racist. And these are the well meaning ones.

    I’ve actually had to argue with otherwise nice Christians white folk about “The Curse of Ham” and on the opposite spectrum liberal secular white folk about why black people can’t just “get over” racism and that it’s not a problem anymore bc they voted for Obama.

    It comes down to the old adage Liberals think black people are inferior, but it’s not our fault;Conservatives think black people are inferior, but it’s our fault.

  • Brittain

    I just knew you were gonna post about Kendrick Lamar and his verse on control…..

  • blackphilo

    For my part, I’d be willing to spend much of my free time talking with Whites about race and racism–if I thought that their opportunity to talk with an intelligent, credentialed, respectable Black person would make any macro difference. Since I’ve lived almost my entire public life among White folks–and inevitably have studied their history, culture, and personalities in detail re race–I really don’t have much to learn about them through conversation.

    But most Whites are far more interested in justifying or rationalizing–rather than acknowledging and fighting–racialized inequality and injustice. Or they’re preoccupied with racial “attitudes” and good feelings. So the conversation isn’t worth my effort (unless I’m dealing with White friends, who will know enough to mostly listen and learn).

    • g574050@rmqkr.net

      listen and learn huh? what you all fail to grasp is you subjective feeling are not facts. what we are trying to find a nice way of saying is every single other person of any race can trace just as much oppression as any black its not an excuse for you behavior and attitude 150 years later. yes biologically you cant help being more violent and lower IQ etc but you could be better citizens if you would own your sh$# and let us take actions to correct you, trust me you will be happier wealthier and better liked.liberals know blacks they meet in grad school and for that matter whites and think they can build a world from that group- aint gonna happen.

  • Tia_Sunny

    I would never speak to a white about subjects like that, I know they are going to display how ignorant and racist they are. I remember one came up to me while I worked at Kroger talking bad about Obama to me, it was so random too, I did not say anything back I just listened, its funny how it was mostly white people there and he decided to come to the black girl to talk about Obama.

    • Dignan

      I’m a white guy, and I’ve had random strangers walk up to me and talk bad about Obama. I’ve had random strangers say horrible things to me about Katrina evacuees. Why me? Do I look like the kind of person who would agree with them on those issues? Or do I look like a liberal, and they were trying to start an argument?

      Some people just want conversation, but are absolutely clueless about how to have one without making the other person feel uncomfortable. Somehow, people from this specific group of people seem to seek me out. Sounds like they seek you out, too.

      • Tia_Sunny

        Maybe they came to you because they probably thought you have the same ideology as them. He came to me at the store because I am black he wanted to see if I were going to defend Obama and be funny. I honestly don’t care if people talk bad about Obama or not, I don’t even believe in politics, but if they want to have a conversation with someone from another demographic about topics like that then they need to put aside stereotypes, any assumptions about what that person is going to respond with, be culturally sensitive, and respectful. They should just work on a approach method to these people, make sure it is at the right place and time.

    • g574050@rmqkr.net

      yeah thats weird we are just sooooooooo confused how you could be sooooo wrong and think youre soooo right we try all sorts of crazy approaches to try to reason with you that come across weird – and yes a small amount of us are haters most just fear you for very good reason. maybe if white liberals didnt fill the tv and schools with bullsh$# about your so called oppression we might be able to reach you but honestly im done white guilt peaked 10 years ago you will see less and less patience for black nonsense so get it together or get lost

      • Tia_Sunny

        Lol, You just proved my point with your response, you could have responded in a completely different manner that was effective, you all will never understand or even make an effort to, it must be nice to be on the privileged side, the liberals have their own agenda too, there’s no need to fear us anyways we do make up less than 10% of the population lol, you all are the ones with the power, then why are you even on a black website? smh You are better off on the Fox News website or the KKK website :)

        • g574050@rmqkr.net

          no i couldn’t have, thats my point and i think the authors point as well. we are both interested in race yet both have come to realize its hopeless. we both think the other is stark raving mad its like a toxic relationship at a certain point the couple will never reconcile no matter how much therapy.you and i could sit in mediation till the conversion of the jews but would only get angrier at each other.I used to be not a liberal but quite convinced of the legitimacy of the civil rights cause a child of the 60s read all the books marched yada yada but over 50 years came to almost hate you as a group despite truly loving some of you individually.When you use that term privilege I could throttle you First my people the Irish were slaves before you and after you as were most whites you call privileged what privilege i have I got the old fashioned way I earned it something blacks no nothing about and please dont even try I have lived gone to school and worked my whole life with you guys very few of you earned anything which is why its so easy for you to destroy America it cost you nothing.I dont know a single white person who dislikes blacks simply for being black its your behavior you cant be the exception to the rule and expect us to put aside decades of experience for you. i read black sites all the time I know you secret realize what you are like
          ah like i said its beyond talk its toxic i suggest you get your family together and move back to africa cause once this welfare states debt blow the country sky high its going to get ugly and as you said youre only 10%
          honestly if you hadnt allowed yourselves to be used as pawns by the marxists we could possibly have reached an accomodation .

  • minxbrie

    Unfortunately, most race talks for me happen in a classroom where I’m one of the 2 black people there and it ends up being a match of people who are purposely trying to get a rise out of me because they THINK they’re right. They try to downplay my experiences – this one girl challenged me because I said I hate that people always feel like they’re entitled to touching my hair because I have a big mop of curls on my head and I wanted to just call her an idiot. You want to touch my head? Ask permission instead of patting me like a dog, it’s really that simple.

    But I look like a b*tch if I start actually taking people to task, so at a certain point, I usually have to shut off and let one of my other girls handle it because ironically, when another white person is used as a speakerphone then it comes off as more legitimate.

    • g574050@rmqkr.net

      OK heres a concrete example people touching your hair without permission is NOT A RACIAL ISSUE just like women in elevators alone or on dark streets acting defensively when a man enters IS NOT A RACIAL ISSUE happens to me all the time and im white and BTW black chicks always touch my hair without asking.These are tiny examples but blacks think everytime something bad happens to them its because they are black. NEWSFLASH security guards and cops profile all sorts of people, clerks give the wrong change and deny it all sorts of customer service people are rude clerks ask for ID from whites too, all these things and hundreds of thousands others happen to everyone. the reality is and I mean the concrete scientific facts verifiable by thousands of studies are

      Blacks IQ are 70-85 african – african mix, blacks are waaaaaayyyyyy more violent , promiscuous and practically unemployable

      YEAH THESE ARE AVERAGES but very significant averages and the reality is whites pretty much act like they are blissfully unaware of these glaring facts.

      YEAR SURE if I was one of the talented tenth it would be crushing I really feel for you but what the tenth ought to be doing is working for a super strict social structure to be imposed on the 90% not blaming everyone else.

  • Dignan

    If you can’t just relax and talk about the bartender’s azz, then the terrorists have won.

  • Big Piph

    I find these conversations often start off w/ them being “one in the hole” due to a zealousness which usually indicates that they’ve deemed me not like the other black people they’ve run across, or not like “them” if you will. Now, I’m often kosher w/ being not like “them”, it’s just that we normally disagree on who “them” is and they don’t understand that even in aspects where I do differ with certain black groups/individuals, that doesn’t make me “more like you” by default. Or in other words, we good man, but just chill out some.

  • nillalatte

    a POLKA bar? ROTFLMAO!!! Dude, seriously, I cringe when you guys write about race. Not because I mind talking about race relations or the lack there of, but just the overall sense of ‘oh, boy, here we go again’ type of feeling. It’s hard to convey thoughts accurately because we’re only going by words posted online. To see someone’s face and read their body language adds depth that we can’t get online, therefore might lead to misunderstandings (tho some intentionally ignant white folks have rolled through here). Depending on the mood of the crowd, you never know if you’re walking into a black panther party or a kkk rally. Either to me is extreme and I just don’t do well with extremists be they whatever race, creed, or color. I’m with the sentiments of this piece tho and, here, let me get the next round. ;)

  • g574050@rmqkr.net

    youre right im your opposite racially and politically and its a waste of time talking ive never understood the total lack of black self awareness till I understood the genetic underpinnings its sad but hopeless i used to think if we got rid of affirmative action and welfare and made blacks stand up like men things would change but i see now thats a stupid pipe dream one day we will simply fight it out the ultimate brains vs brawn showdown sad

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