It’s a tactic used by weak people to manipulative those who have the strength, know-how, leverage and ability to do something, but, for whatever reason, they choose to do what THEY’D rather do instead.
It’s been recycled so many times. The way I see it, it’s like if a woman says “You Ain’t A Man!” or “Man Up!”
It’s a tactic, I think, that’s killed more people than any plague we can conceive of, but let’s start off light…VERY light.
I once worked in a nice restaurant with a lot of white people. For the most part, they were good people, too. As a matter of fact, in all disclosure, damn-near every place I’ve ever worked has been reputable in that field industry/field.
I’d like to say that I planned it that way, but now, as an adult, 1) I think I just had a LOT of people looking out for me and giving me good advice, 2) I’ve been VERY fortunate, blessed and lucky and 3) over time, I’ve gotten REALLY GOOD at making moves on good decisions for myself (more or less).
Don’t get me wrong, there may have been some ill-advised excursions with a Big-Booty Judy or two, but if you live long enough, you tend to learn not to consider a wife based on how well she can dance or how good she looks.
So, this guy (one of the cooler people I worked with) wanted me to come hang out after work with the rest of them. See, normally I was completely content going out dancing by myself because I didn’t have to wait for anybody, baby-sit, count heads, buy drinks for, etc.
I’m sure he knew this, so he goes, “D, I’m blacker than you. I bet I can beat you in Hoops.” It was a basketball shooting game in this bar across the street. Well needless to say, I took him up on it.
I’m not a good basketball player AT ALL, but on 1 out of 10 days, I looked like I knew what I was doing. He must’ve seen or heard about me on one of my other 9 days.
He bought my drink, he put the quarters in and I LIT HIS ASS UP! My focus was so on point, that’s the only thing I remember about that night.
Do I think he was a bad person? Not at all! We had hung out a few times before and he didn’t have a track record of being a bad guy or ill-intentioned. Otherwise, I don’t think I would’ve taken him up on it. As a matter of fact, if it were others in that place, I might’ve had a completely different response.
However, the best intentions sometimes can conjure up deeply seated negative thoughts and emotions born out of past experiences.
What HE didn’t know is that ever since I was about 3 or 4, I knew I was different. Just WHY I was different, I would find out later, was partially because I did fairly well in school, but more likely it was the way I observed things, the words I used, the questions I asked and how I asked them.
I was quiet and shy. I used to READ A LOT when I was younger. I was good at it because my dad, who didn’t graduate high school, always said, “Look it up.” when I had a question. And this was before the internet made it easy to do so.
Let’s take it a step further; THIS was when I lived in Pennsylvania BEFORE moving to Kittrell, North Carolina. There was already that stigma about “The South” that’s engrained in a lot of Northerners. You can see it all over the TV’s how stupid and racist Southerners are. It’s similar to the way black people seemed to be portrayed as being more aggressive and dangerous on TV and in movies.
A more representative spectrum of Blacks and Southerners weren’t and STILL AREN’T given the proper attention, in my opinion, for their wisdom and mental chops. That’s a story for another day.
I excelled in school down here too. The older I got the more white people were in the classes I took. By the time I got into high school, we moved to Chapel Hill and I was on the fast track to go to a big University of some sort. I took the AP courses (Chemistry & Calculus), Latin, volunteered and sang in a few groups that performed around the Chapel Hill community.
The WHOLE time, when it was recess or lunch-time, I was more intrigued by the people who talked a lot of smack; and a lot of times that included my black co-eds.
I was enamored by their ability to take what they knew and frame what they said in a way that was more interesting, witty, dynamic and creative than anything I heard anywhere else. Now that I look back at it, it’s how my dad communicated. Regardless of how much book stuff I knew, I always gravitated towards the people who spoke words unconventionally; not using the same phraseology as is commonly accepted.
The thing is, when you take a lot of classes with a lot of white people and have a lot of white friends who are ALSO cool, you become either conflicted or you settle in to being not a part of any one group. I was the latter.
Everyone knew I didn’t care who you were or how you felt about how I am because I was on MY path and I was going to BE THAT anyway. Remember, I knew I was different at age 3 or 4…it didn’t and doesn’t bother me. That didn’t stop people from being vocal about it…especially when they have such strong personalities themselves. So, yeah, by then, I had heard the comments already; mainly in jest, but biting none-the-less:
I’m blacker than you.
You’re not as black as (some white guy who “acted black” or did things they would consider to be “Black”).
You act like white folks.
You like this? Yeah, that’s kinda white.
At least you like chicken.
You got BOOK sense, but common sense (street sense)….
You like white girls (when most of my crushes were black).
You take this class or that? White classes. (Never mind Timbuktu.)
You like playing this sport or game? White games.
Classic Rock and Country? White. (Never mind all the Motown, Soul and R&B I sang).
You get the point. Do I think they’re bad people? No. But I came to learn that it’s not me, it was probably more their reluctance to be interested in some of those things based out of fear of being labelled the same things they were saying. Moreover, their tastes came from their exposure to different things.
See, a good portion of those sentiments came from people who were black.
And when you hear it from a white person, it’s like “MY people can say this about me, but YOU can’t.” It’s kinda like the “N” word….and I’m black, so I can say it, right?
If Joe Biden said, “If you can’t figure out if you want to vote for me or Donald Trump, you ain’t a NIGGA!” it would’ve been off-putting, but similar, to me. How many times do you have to hear something before it’s not shocking any more. His actual statement has been heard by more modestly “successful” black people than you’d be comfortable exploring. All you really have to do is be interested in something not as many people they see as ‘IN YOUR GROUP’ are interested in.
So, it’s not the words he said, it’s who it came from, the medium and how often we hear these inane sentiments coming from people; people who either are trying to get a rise out of you, who have ill-intentions or who are saying things they’ve heard without knowing how offensive it might be. Either way it doesn’t bring back warm cuddly feelings.
I’d even go so far as to say that these sentiments might even make some people less receptive to your future messages; knowing how off base you are on THAT. It’s dismissive of a lot of personal history and DNA memory.
Like my dad says, “There’s a lotta truth said in a joke.”
I think Joe Biden’s comment possibly came from a place of jest based on some things he’s heard his own people (friends, family, campaign managers, etc.) say; some are more likely black. I leave open the possibility that there could have been some deeply ingrained beliefs he truly holds. He possibly bought in to the notion that the Democrat party, however flawed, stands up for the little guy.
As I look back through the history of this country, it’s hard to say that the’ve been right about very many things. Whenever they address anyone who doesn’t believe in their ideas, they have multiple TV stations who will do their bidding to shut down opposing voices.
Nowadays, I can’t watch the news because, remember, I read. I’m the guy who had to look things up since age 5. Again, information is at our fingertips online now more than ever and, yet, it seems nobody looks up anything. It’s so easy to watch multiple TV stations say the same things over and over again…so it MUST be true, right?
They like to tell you how great we USED to be with all the inventions black people were a major part of, but when they tell you about YOUR potential it somehow turns to how helpless you are without someone else’s help. We’re told about how excellent our predecessors were and in the same breathe YOU never really had a chance.
Nevermind how many times we’ve been lied to up to this point. If anything, Quid Pro Joe’s statement will raise the antennae of scores of black people in a way that will make them pause and actually pay attention to who the truth-tellers are. On the other hand, it’ll shine a light on who sounds like those confused voices from the past who were wrong back then too.
It just seems like black people keep falling for the same old okie-doke and the playbook never changes. ‘If you don’t believe like me, you’re an Uncle Tom, Sellout, Sambo, House Negro Wannabe doing the bidding for your white masters…..’ And because we can be emotional, our brains are turned towards the insult and not the idiocy of the statement itself.
‘So,I’m doing the bidding because I DON’T think the way the slave master manipulators of the past want me to think?’
If I DON’T want to be controlled and prefer self-reliance, standing on my own two feet, saving my money and striving for something more than I already have…I’m not welcome and deserve to be called every negative term in the book?
Let’s play THAT game. What positive thing can you say to someone of any other race or nationality that could be considered offensive enough to change THEIR mind about who they are and how they act?
Asian: “You like art and NOT math and chemistry? You ain’t Asian”
European: “You like sports, NOT engineering and mechanics? You ain’t white.”
Latino: “You prefer to write instead of working. You ain’t Latino.”
I’m sure they hear similar things we hear in their cultures but we’ve seen this HERE before, just as they’ve seen where they’re from. We’re supposed to be MORE keen today than we were back then.
The United States of America is one of the greatest experiments in history based on freedom of speech, movement and protecting the rights of the individual. Over the last century or so, our non-homogenous society’s citizens have been a test case. It hasn’t been perfect but people die trying to get here for the chances we sometimes take for granted.
My point is this; black people have been in the forefront and background of a lot of positive history; some of which we will never know that we had anything to do with it. It’s become so cavalier to say we can’t and shouldn’t want to strive for being book smart because it’s not been socially acceptable in the more recent history to actually be knowledgeable if you don’t hold the same beliefs as the media.
Black people used to run successful cities in America. It’s never before been the norm that we were the ones who needed the most help. Where we used to demand equal rights under the law (rightfully so), now we’re demanding preferential treatment because we’re black. Even worse, we’ve allowed them to lump us in with the new “people of color”; everyone else who isn’t white and wants the same kind of “preferential treatment”. We used to pride ourselves on NOT being the victim; sometimes to a fault.
How can we say “We were Kings!” and lead with our hands held out? Any wise leader knows that is a road to a very dark place. When tough decisions have to be made to preserve what you have, there’s still no guarantee.
Don’t be afraid to listen to the individuals the proverbial “They” tell you not to listen to. It’s another way of controlling the message they want you to hear. It doesn’t have to mean that you agree with the message, but you’ll cut off your own learning (however smart you think you are) based on fear of learning something uncomfortable.
Some people will take the worst parts of things their opposition has said, package it up nicely to put themselves in the best light just to hold on to any semblance of power over YOUR understanding that they can.
Don’t take my word for it, books have been written like manuals, which show you how to manipulate the masses. It’s almost like they HAVE to tell you how they’ll eventually destroy you. You just have to listen.
So, the next time someone tells you that, “You ain’t black!” or anything else, assess what and who you’re dealing with. It’s difficult to know what’s in ANYONE’S heart, mind and soul. But I leave you with this sentiment. EVERYONE changes over time, but the core of who we are will leave clues through our words, what we’ve done and what we’re doing.
YOU have to do the research!