Saturday, March 19, 2011

My minor rant on Jalen vs. Grant: Apology NOT accepted, black

I don't know how many of you have been keeping up with the fall out from the ESPN documentary on the Fab Five that aired last Sunday. For those not in the know, the Fab Five refers to the 1991-1993 Michigan basketball starting line up comprised of Detroit natives Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, Chicago native Juwan Howard, and Texas high school stars Jimmy King and Ray Jackson.

The documentary was executive produced by Jalen Rose. In the piece, he detailed how the Michigan team was viewed as threatening and thuggish merely based on their music choices, style of dress, backgrounds and other superficial criteria. He contrasted this with the world view of Duke (a team that defeated the Wolverines consistently) and their star player at that time, Grant Hill. He referred to them as "bitches" and "Uncle Toms" - inflammatory wording to say the least.

Grant Hill took a moment to respond to this Wednesday afternoon in the New York Times:
It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me. I should have guessed there was something regrettable in the documentary when I received a Twitter apology from Jalen before its premiere.
Mainstream media, Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere exploded. People quickly aligned #TeamJalen or #TeamGrant. On the one hand, people felt that Grant "bit on Jalen's bait" and missed the entire point Jalen was trying to make about being a stereotyped black youth only valued for his athletic prowess. On the other hand, others felt that Jalen went too far and Grant was within his rights to respond.

Okay sure, it's hard to get whipped up about two multi-millionaires beefing over hurt feelings and misconceptions from over ten years ago. But then it became about so much more than that. Out of the ether came the more disturbing comments about "uppity negroes" and "house negroes" vs. "real n****as" and "street negroes." Phrases like "actin' white" as opposed to "keepin' it hood" started getting bandied about. It was at this point that I threw a miniature Twitter tantrum. Here we effin' go again. The whole reason I named this blog Black 'n Bougie was right there for the world to see. Aren't I still black whether I listen to T-pain or Tchaikovsky?

Yes, I came from a two parent household and had to look up ghetto in the dictionary. Yes, I was a member of Jack and Jill and my sister was a debutante. Yes, I went to private school. No, I didn't grow up on welfare or worry that the lights would be cut off at any minute. Fine, I'm way more Cosby Show than Good Times - does that make me less black?

Was I less black when Nanette Albaum called me "just a nigger" in third grade while explaining why I needed to allow her to cut ahead of me in the lunch line? Was I less black when the swim coach told me there was no way I was qualified for the team because "my kind" weren't known for our swimming prowess? Was I less black when I got caught in the rain on a field trip and my press 'n curl turned into an Angela Davis fro and the whole bus started laughing? Was I less black when my university professor asked me (the only black in a room full of 300 people) to describe what it was like growing up in the hood? [For the record, my answer was "I know not from ghetto, sir"] Was I less black anytime I ever did a phone interview and then met the interviewer in person only to have them be confused by the color of my skin? One of them going so far as to say, "You don't sound black on the phone." [The equivalent of "you speak so well"]

Sure, those are mostly bougie-ass problems to have but they are black problems nevertheless. When the hell are we as a people going to get past colorism and classism? As one person said on Twitter, "Don't blame Grant for being light-skinned and having a Daddy." Damn, is it like that? Still????

Truthfully, I've been more hurt by the barbs sent my way by my own damn people. "Bet yo' high yella ass never has to wait on a table." "Why doesn't Daddy's pampered princess click her pumps together three times so we can get home?" "Oh Chele, you didn't grow up black enough to understand what I'm going through." Actual quotes from people of my race who were supposed to be my friends. 

Someone I used to admire on Twitter said Grant Hill was a "pampered bougie bitch ass who had everything handed to him on a silver platter and didn't understand the real black experience." I called bullshiggity and they told me I didn't get it because I was "barely passing for black" myself. To which I replied by private message, "Would it be more black if I cussed you out publicly then came to your house and kicked your ass? How would you like that?"

He apologized. Several times. Starting with, "Sorry black, I'm from the streets and I get passionate about defending my own."

Let me respond to that right here: Apology not accepted, black. Funny how between the two of us, you're the one with the narrow-minded definition of blackness. I am your own, regardless of my zip code, bank balance, and ability to annunciate syllables. 

I reached out to a friend of the family who went to Duke to ask him what he thought of all the swirl. As I expected, he had a viewpoint similar to mine:
I was angry about it before, because it just parroted the classism that I used to hear from my family growing up. I remain amazed at how we put ourselves down and make it impossible to succeed because we have so many internal forces trying to tear us down. [...]
All that being said, the fact that it existed then and now, makes me sad but I think I'm past apologizing for knowing how to read a book. Basically... I can't apologize for having two parents love me and push me to be all that I could be. I can't apologize for having the academic skills to do some stuff that others can't. I can't apologize for NOT living in the ghetto (because my parents made sure that I wouldn't have too.. because they didn't also want that for their kids). And I can't apologize for not wanting that stuff for my progeny. Either way, I can't help what people think.
And so it continues.... we are beyond a full decade into the twenty-first century and issues like this make me wonder if we've made any progress at all. We don't have to agree with each other but we do owe each other some basic damn respect. My black experience may not be your black experience but no one has the right to diminish my reality and question my ethnicity. I have fought too many battles because of the color of my skin to be accused of trying to pass for something other than what I know myself to be: A woman of African, Spanish, Scottish and Native American heritage... otherwise known as black. 

Here endeth the rant.

78 comments:

aishao1122 said...

WOW, Uhmm I'm not a fan of basketball so I didn't watch the show. I also hadn't been on twitter all week so I definitely wasn't aware of the fall-out. This crap is just pathetic, I have also had a teacher ask me to describe 'ghetto life' (i was the darkest girl in the class and my town has some 'ghetto' parts to it) I confused him when I pointed out that I live around the corner from the university (considered the 'good part of town' and have always done so) and have only driven through the ghetto to get to the highway.

I totally agree with your friend that I am not apologizing because my parents insisted that I become educated, even if it makes other think I'm a 'uppity field negro'. I am from the Caribbean, education is paramount to Caribbean families, being upwardly mobile is something to admire not deride and I can't understand why when other cultures where shoved into the ghettos they ran like hell to get out, but many black Americans seem quite happy staying there and 'keeping it real'.

To me it speaks volumes that they would rather remain on the bottom of Maslow's scale and forever struggle with their basic needs than move beyond that daily struggle and become self- actualized.

Great post, sad that you even had to write it, who knows maybe in a few years, blacks will get it and stop acting like crabs in a bucket and start actually finding effective ways in which to pull our people up instead of attempting to pull down those who refuse to wallow in the 'we aren't worthy' mentality.

tiffanyinhouston said...

Excellent Chele..simply excellent. I'm going to blog about too from a newlywed standpoint.

You know Aisha..I was with you all the way until this line right here: but many black Americans seem quite happy staying there and 'keeping it real'.

As the descendant of American slaves (and probably some slave masters), PLEASE MISS ME WITH ALL THAT.

West Indian folk have their fair share of "sorry ass n*ggas" and dysfunction. If someone is calling you out of your name or the police have your ass facedown on the ground in cuffs for some bullshit, they don't bother to ask you if you are from Alabama or from Barbados. They don't care, because your skin is your sin.

Or did you forget all that??

Athena said...

I follow your blog, but I've never commented until now. Thank you so much for this! It has been so hard to explain to people why this whole episode has stuck in my craw. I grew up being told I wasn't black enough because I had a two parent household (or because I "talked white", played cello, listened to "white people music", or didn't live across the tracks, which was the dividing line in my hometown.)

I've been called white girl, college girl and bougie to my face by family members. I've been told I think I'm too good because I went to college. I've had pennies launched at my head on a school bus and I've been jumped because I just wasn't black enough.

For the longest time I refused to say anything. I didn't matter that my parents worked in a steel mill and a factory respectively to ensure I never had to. There was never a question that I was going to go to college, get a white collar job, travel and do better than the generation before me. But despite this it took my younger sister going through the same thing with her generation that made me throw down the gauntlet. So what we aren't from "the hood"? So what we have interests outside what we are supposed to like as black people? So what? There isn't a person on this earth that has a barometer of blackness and I'm tired of us allowing ourselves to marginalized and shoved into boxes.

Again, thank you.

bougiesis said...

As per usual, Well Said! It's sad but true that we have not turned the corner on this issue. Continue to speak truth, sis. And when necessary - go all in and tell folks about themselves!

aishao1122 said...

I wasn't saying that blacks in the Caribbean don't have ghetto mentalities either. My point was that many (I didn't say all) have the belief that by "keeping it real" you don't move beyond what is expected of you by the majority society which is to 'stay in your lane'. Being West Indian doesn't stop us from being treated just as if not worse with the "why don't you go home? or the Jamaica is full of weed smoking Rastafarians, who are nasty and don't wash their hair" @_@ (from blacks and whites). We too are descendants of slaves and have been left to clean up the mess when Britain cut us loose, My point was whenever other cultures (the Jews, the Irish, the Asians) were placed in the ghettos they were quick as a community to pull up as many as were willing to get out to do the same, while it seems like the ghetto life is being glorified for black Americans, and whenever some get out they are considered less 'real' than those who remain and struggle. (which is the point of Chele's post)

It wasn't meant as a put down, but an observation to the mentality of those who remain and think that this is the only way to be.

CorettaJG said...

I read the op ed piece by Grant Hill in the NYT and his full response on his website. I looked at clips of Rose's comments and of a couple subsequent interviews. While I understand that Rose was expressing the rejection he felt as a kid by schools who didn't recruit athletes from the hood and the jealousy he felt about the background of black Duke players, there is a MAJOR problem when black people perpetuate the idea that coming from a two parent household, speaking properly, getting a good education, having social manners or parents with some wealth makes you barely black or weak ("b*tch" was the word I heard besides Uncle Tom to describe Duke players). I don't think Rose or other commentators have done anything to progress the race on this or help other kids like him understand better so they can do better. Let's stop the ignorance.

Reads4Pleasure said...

It's a sad when the "real" black folks want to define realness as being downtrodden, poor, bad neighborhoods, single family homes, etc. It says that they've limited themselves and future generations AND they've bought into the media's portrayal of what black really is.

On Twitter I watched a teacher of black children, who is raising a black child, defend Jalen Rose against several people and place the blame for HIS feelings and HIS comments on Grant Hill and others like him. She then went on to say that no one is checking for Grant and he only responded because of his ego. She went so far as to tweet to anyone that disagreed that they were totally missing the point, that Jalen's feelings were valid and people should be happy that he's able to articulate his thoughts. How can you say one person's feelings are valid, while complete denying the others?

I'm almost thankful that she announced the other night that she's getting out of teaching because it's no longer her passion. She'll be one less person teaching future generations how to "keep it real."

Max_Reddick said...

I've been following this one from a distance this week. Now, I am not defening what Rose said, but I do want to make the observation that Rose was very young when he said it. From every indication, he has grown and matured since then, and so has his views. In other words, when he was a child he thought as a child, and so on and so forth.

In the same instance, though, that he thought this way as a youth brings up another point of consideration. Currently,too many of our young people feel this way. I agree with Reads4Pleasure that this narrow definition of being black is synonomous with poverty and privatation is sad indeed. Even further, keeping it real has become synonomous with just outright and abject ignorance.

But perhaps the saddest thing is that these views do not originate, in the main, from outside our community; for the most part, we are their greatest purveyors.

I did not mean to go on this long, but the upshot of the whole argument is this: we need to define who we are for ourselves. Yes, an inordiate number of African Americans live in poverty, but many also are solidly a pert of the middle class, and some have even managed to accumulate a great deal of wealth.

Earthangel172 said...

I've been under a rock because I didn't hear about this. Nevertheless, I present to you a brown-skinned, 32 yo, black female who grew up in a two parent household in a middle class neighborhood. I was neither ratchet or a debutante but I definitely know people on both sides of the spectrum. My dad grew up very poor so he sacrificed A LOT for his family so that we didn't have to experience the same things he did.

@Chele - I am with you and your friend from Duke. No more apologies! I get called bouge all the time and I usually think to myself "Chile please, if I'm bouge then you really need to get out more and broaden your horizons!" LOL

At the end of the day, it all boils down to money...the haves and the have nots. My upbringing fell right in the middle and I'm grateful for it! I plan to provide the same thing for my daughter.

michaeldavis said...

This is going to be long, and I apologize. It might be a lot to read if you partied hard last night. I apologize in advance. Grammar might be an issue here.

For those that keep saying that Rose "was 17 years old from the ghetto" The thing that got me about Rose was that, in the recap, he said he STILL felt the same way for the most part. That was a problem for me. Also,Michigan AND Duke recruited Chris Webber who went to Detroit Country Day HS (prep school in the burbs). So THEREFORE.... he had those same so-called "privileged" kids as teammates. Jimmy King was from PLANO, TEXAS. Were his teammates "Uncle Toms" and B---s in his eyes? *pause*

(refocusing)

Let me clarify some stuff about people "from the hood" or whatever. Most of us VALUE education.
We started out in North Philly - I am the first generation to not live in the projects. As I went to four different elementary schools (since Moms was always trying to find and do better) and moved 5-6 times, fitting in was always tough. I never felt a whole lot of heat from the suburban kids except for a few.

Moms moved us to the cheapest apartment complex in the burbs on the county line so I could go to their schools. She never went to college, but she was on it. Single-parent household but my Dad was in the mix…kind of like Furious Styles in Boys in the Hood except I never lived with him.

Everybody in school knew where we lived. All the black kids in the school lived in that complex.
I was a mad at being pulled from the hood elementary school because they had free breakfast and that was the only way I could get Apple Jacks. But noooo, Moms had to have a plan for me to be better in life.
Did I ever miss a meal? No, Moms was too determined to ever let that happen. Did I sleep on floors sometimes because Moms took whatever hours she could get going from being one of the first black employees at Bell Telephone and ending up doing engineering work? YES. Was the heat provided by the open oven door a few times? HELL.YES.

My problem, even being from North Philly, were some of the kids that lived in the hood. Except for the time that I first experienced racism, wherein a Vice Principal in a school in the suburbs (first grade) said “oh he’s a light-skinned child, he’ll fit right in” and Moms went OFF.

Not knocking someone else's experience, but some people have no idea how hard it is to make it "out the hood" when you have to do it based on your brain and not a jump shot. And that Jalen Rose type is what held you back in the hood if athletics wasn't your ticket.

As someone who had to fight to get on the subway some days because we went to the "Nerd" school (Central High School in Philly), who used to have kids come to our basketball games to try to beat us up after the game (notice I said TRY), who had a gun put in his face as a teen for trying to "make it out," I thank Grant for his reply. I'm also glad it was printed in NYT, maybe it will help open the eyes about those that think that all blacks think being smart is "Acting white."

And sorry Jalen, I was recruited by Ivy League schools with my so-called hood background and single-parent status.

The fact that he is pushing 40 and still thinking this way shows you how much he needs to grow up and SIT.IT.DOWN. But if you listen to him on ESPN he doesn’t value the English language that much either.

Signed,

Hood born, red kool-aid drinker, and saved by education.

michaeldavis said...

he also cannot blame the hood for his suit on draft day
http://cdn.guyism.com/wp-content/uploads/Jalen-Rose.jpg

michaeldavis said...

Rose also forgot that multiple Duke players have underprivileged backgrounds

GrownAzzMan said...

Two things before I read any of the comments.
1) I too grew up more Cosby show then Good Times. I doubt I would have been accepted by my Black peers in High School if I hadn't been good at sports. The had a problem with me being in Honors English, AP Chemistry and whatnot.
2) How are we ever going to get to "Post Racial" America (pun intended) when we still can get past what divides us as a people?

#teamgrant SMDH

Natasha Hunter said...

As a woman who was born and raised in the 'hood (no quotation marks necessary, because it is what it is,) I apologize for the hurtful actions and teases or invalidations some of yah'll may have received or are still receiving. That's real jacked up and you're right, your blackness really isn't anyone else's affair. Personally, I don't care where you ARE, it's what you DO.

However.com, I hope the main vein in all this is that we are all black and should all be able to get along on that common ground and not develop superior/inferior attitudes based upon "getting out of the hood", where you obtained your education, why don't you have 50 pairs of Jordans and what your living arrangements are.

Hopefully, if my grams and 'em invite you over for some fried chicken and collards and don't put up a fuss because you use a knife and fork on your chicken, you wouldn't trip if she used her salad fork on the quail eggs. ("you" being a general term)

We seem to enjoy putting ourselves in all kinds of caste systems based on whatever we can find that separates us. ENOUGH ALREADY!!

rozb said...

I grew up in a primarily single-parent home, and yet my mother received her education and fed and clothed us in spite of being divorced and my father non-existent in our lives.

I lived in my hometown's "projects", but somehow, I managed to always leave the house with my hair combed and neat (with braids so pressed and tight my eyebrows met in the back of my head) and my legs, knees, and elbows always freshly "greased down".

I went to public school from grades 1 - 12, and yet my "peers" had no problem calling me names for talking like a white girl, or getting pushed into lockers and called the teacher's monkey because I received great grades and was well-mannered.

I was a young Black girl that my mother enrolled in a program that led to me becoming a debutante and learning the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork. I was called stuck up and "siddity", or was accused of trying to be white because I didn't do the booty pop dances, or let the random Pookeys and Ray-Rays feel up on me.

And no matter how hard we try, there will still be a contingent of folks that will never consider some of us Black enough, or aware enough, or good enough. And the strongest, nastiest, and twisted criticisms come from other Black folk. Call me bougie? You say that like it's something bad!

It is resentment and a desire to blame their own conditions and perceived shortcomings on someone else's "shine". Jalen Rose really had no other reason for his tirade. Did Grant Hill or his teammates take anything that was specifically designed or meant for him? And Chele, that whole "I'm from the streets" thing is lame and tired. Your former twitter person (I don't know what to call him/her) was just feeding from the chum that stuff like this spews out. It is this intra-racial crap that contributes to us never getting anything accomplished.

The sickest part of this whole thing? It isn't just "ig'nant folks" who do this! Celebrities and prominent figures who should know and do better indulge in this as well. As an example, who hasn't heard of Tom Joyner and his annual "Party with a Purpose Fantastic Voyage Cruise"? On his cruise, during a shore excursion, he hosts a "Light-Skinned vs. Dark-Skinned Water Fight". *blink blink* And, even though he jokes about it on his show, light vs. dark is part of a lot of his schtick. If our own media won't stop the "house against the field" crap, clueless people like Jalen will always keep popping up.

Sorry - had to get this off my chest.

rozb said...

Ha! Wow...

michaeldavis said...

WOW! *pause* at the "Light-Skinned vs. Dark-Skinned Water Fight"

Uhmmm...why??? said...

Thank you for stating the truth. I grew up in the projects with a mother and father. Both of them worked hard and required that we did our best in school. We could not use slang at home because my father thought it to be dumb. We had to speak proper English. My parents raised me to be the best that I could be. I have worked hard for the things that I have now, and for someone to say I'm trying to be white, is not a slap in my face. Their verbal attempts to make me feel bad about my achievements, makes them look pathetic. In their minds only those who have white skin should be the ones to achieve things in their lives, while the rest of us walk around angry about our lot in life. Like the article said, I'm not gonna apologize for having an education, money, or being able to speak English. All this Uncle Tom Foolery is just them not being to articulate themselves about feeling bad about their own lives. They want you to feel as bad as they do. Uhmmm.....NOT!

thinklikeRiley said...

Riley straight outta hoodville and not going back. I give not two shiggitys if you eat off china or store brand chinet. You good people, it's all good to me.

Jasmin said...

Yea, I had no idea about this. (In my defense, I was 3 in 1991!) But I will add that what bugs me the most about this mentality, is that half of the kids on the "I'm so hood" tip are straight out of the suburbs! It's my (perhaps unpopular) opinion that the shiggity on BET and the radio isn't designed for real hood folks; it's just cultural tourism for generally middle-class Black folks who believe getting in touch with blackness means rapping about slapping hoes. You take the colonized mindset to a whole 'nother level when you take pleasure in fulfilling a stereotype.

I feel fortunate to have grown up surrounded by Black people who didn't put "Black" in boxes, so I've never felt like I had to escape being Black to get anywhere in life. Unfortunately, outside of Bougieland I think that's a common sentiment around upwardly mobile Black people. Being ostracized for "acting White" or getting an education isn't right, but there's a reason people lash out in that way that I would expect a moderately educated person to take into account before buying into the "Black = dysfunctional" mindset.

David Chase said...

First things first - who was the dude on Twitter? You may be too polite to go ham but I don't have a solitary problem with putting ratchet folks all the way on blast.

Second - It's always something. I'm from a barely there town in Georgia and when I hit the "big city" it was Bama this and Bama that. I had to re-learn how to dress, talk, etc just to be taken seriously by own people as well as "the establishment".

This struggle of house vs field and sell-out vs real is old as the hills. If our generation doesn't break the chain - who will?

Cassie said...

Same crap different day. Been taking shiggity for 20 years for preferring rock to rap. People say "who are you trying to fool?" no damn body, I like rock. The infamous "you think you're better than us since you got an education" - not better, smarter.
I've adopted a Jill Scott attitude now:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw3Z8Oa7E3Y

tiffanyinhouston said...

Michael, I didn't grow up in the hood, but there is nothing in the word like a ice-cold glass of RED kool-aid! Oh yeah!

Brneyed1 said...

"Light-Skinned vs. Dark-Skinned Water Fight" Seriously? Effin' SERIOUSLY?!?!?

*goes to radio and turns OFF V103*

Brneyed1 said...

Hate On Me is my theme song!! I love the version she did live for VH1 Soul because of the short intro she gives at the beginning. "Cousin So-and-so, HAHA!!"

Brneyed1 said...

Though I was in college at the time the Fab5 were playing, I wasn't a basketball fan and therefore not at all familiar with the phenomena. So when this documentary came out, I had to Google Fab5 to discover what folks on Twitter were beefing about. Le Sigh.

iCan't with all this division. iWon't buy into the Victim Mentality.

I grew up somewhere between Cosby Show and Good Times, but probably a little closer to Good Times. I was always the girl on the block with the second-hand something or last year's fashions. But I was never cold, never hungry. I was also never encouraged to move "out of my lane." It wasn't until I got a job at the age of 17 through a school-to-work program that I realized how limited my experiences had been. Google didn't exist then, so when I didn't know something all I could do was smile and nod, because I had no one to ask because no one in my 'hood knew what it meant either!

I didn't want to be limited, so I decided to go to college. My mom's response to that proclamation? "I dunno how you gon' pay for college. I ain't got no money."

I wish I knew what it was in me that screamed "don't let that stop you" because I'd bottle it and GIVE it away. iSwear we as a people could use a healthy dose! A sistah hustled her way through college: I kept a part-time job; I typed and edited papers for others for cash; I sold home-made chili, beef stew, lasagna (you know, stuff you can make in large quantities for cheap); I tape -recorded lectures and sold copies of the tapes. A sistah had to buy books and pay tuition, and was NOT about to hear "I told you so" from family and the people on the block.

I also experienced racism for the first time in college. The prof that only talked to me during February because was the only black face in the lecture hall. Being followed around the college bookstore because I looked "suspicious." And from my own people, begin told I wasn't "light/proper/affluent enough" for one sorority and "too quiet/studious/prissy" for another.

Despite these obstacles, I graduated from college; the happiest day of my life. I realized then that the only limits on what I could be were the limits I placed on myself.

I grew a whole helluva lot in college, and plan to keep doing so. I lost several friends (and some family members) because I "went to that school and got all siddity 'nsh*t". They couldn't just be happy that I'd progressed. Just angry, likely because they hadn't. There are days now I feel like I'm on an island: not quite bougie enough for some, and much too bougie for others. I've experience more in my years since college than most people I know ever will. I will try almost anything as long as it won't kill me, get me arrested, or cause anyone harm.

So yeah, this whole Rose/Hill thing saddens me. I'd give anything to get us all beyond this. Sorry about creating a blog post in the comments section. Just touched a nerve, and needed a release. WOOSAH!!

michaeldavis said...

rule of thumb...if you can't see your hand through the pitcher, it's legit :)

GammasWorld said...

I tuned out of this drama on Twitter cause I honestly didn't know WTH y'all were talking about. Great post Chele and I, too, feel bad that in 2011 this needs to be written. I did grow up poor and dysfunctional as I don't know what (dad was an abusive alcoholic). There are some things that don't have shiggity to do with money or suburbs vs. hood. I'm really sick of us using "hood" as excuse for ignorance or just plain ole mess. As many issues I have with my mom for tolerating my dad's abuse, I have to give her much props for making sure we had some damn sense regardless if we ate pintos or steak. Manners, values, respect for education, can be taught whether you're poor as Job's turkey or rich as Oprah. It's time to end this "argument" once and for all. The Black experience is so much deeper than this. There is no such thing as the "real black"experience. I have friends who make more in a month than I will in a year, but trust when her husband is riding through their high-dollar neighborhood at night, the private security has pulled him over with the quickness just to "check on things". Stop it people!

C Nelson said...

West Indian folk have their fair share of "sorry ass n*ggas" and dysfunction

We also have our fair share of racism and colorism, it just tends to not be black vs white. I'm from Trinidad. It's blacks vs (East) Indians there, because we didn't have so many white people, but we had plenty of slaves, and plenty of East Indian indentured laborers. If we'd had more whites, I'm sure they'd have mattered more. It kills me when I hear that familiar accent from an East Indian mouth, and when I say "oh, you're from Trinidad too? I was born in Arima!" I get back "oh no, I'm from India." Really? Sure you are, darling, but you made a Caribbean stop on the way! So we've really got no room to talk, I have realised -- just 'cause who we're struggling against is different doesn't change the struggle itself any.

GrownAzzMan said...

I'm about to inject some silly in this high-brow discourse. Is there any way I can get a bet down on 'dark-skinned' in the next encounter? That.Is.All. Carry on...LOL

Jamie Wesley said...

First things first...

In slight defense of Jalen Rose, I believe that he meant that's how he felt as an 18-year-old kid who grew up with a whole lot of nothing. The problem is that he didn't bother to clarify that his feelings changed once he grew up and had more life experiences. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because I like to believe the best of people, but Grant Hill's response is more than understandable given the lack of clarity in the documentary. If Jalen still feels the same, then he needs to grow up and understand that he's not 18 anymore.

Michael Wilbon wrote an excellent column about the situation. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/commentary/news/story?id=6227464

Onward...

I am black because of the color of the skin, because of who my parents are, because of who their parents are. Therefore, whatever I do is the real black experience because I am real.

This doesn't mean I haven't been called an Oreo from my own people because I have. After attending an all-black elementary school, I attended magnet middle and high schools that draw students from all over the city. Because I had the nerve to make friends with non-blacks and start listening to music made by non-blacks, I was told I was acting white. I'll never forget the girl who told me I didn't act like I was from the predominantly black part of town even though I most certainly am. Maybe because I had the audacity to use correct grammar. Who knows? I didn't ask because I was too stunned to speak.

I used to let the ignorance bother me, but no more. I have to live my life the best way I know how. I refuse to worry about how I am perceived by small-minded people. I don't have time for that.

JohnKinPDX said...

This one hits close to home. I grew up being called "Carlton Banks" getting talked about for wearing Banana Republic instead of FUBU. I no longer apologize for the path my parents put me on and the life I chose to lead. People can either love it or leave it alone.

JohnKinPDX said...

I gotta admit this is one of my pet peeves - a brother in a fruit-colored suit. Cranberry, raspberry, pumpkin, apple, no sir.

Brneyed1 said...

See! You ain't right!!

*loads my SuperSoaker & plunks down a Fiddy*

LOL

Earthangel172 said...

I can totally relate to your post! I've experienced a lot of the same things you did in college...not ghetto enough, not bougie enough, etc. At this stage in my life, you either like me or you don't! LOL

Take care.

Earthangel172 said...

"Half of the kids on the "I'm so hood" tip are straight out of the suburbs!"

This!!!

I live in the burbs outside of Houston. One time I was in the store and this young teenager was talking so loud and being "extra" with his friends. They were talking about going to the hood to by weed from some guy. When one of the dudes said that the loud one couldn't go with them because the weed man didn't know him, he went on a tangent about how he was a gangster. It took everything in me not to slap his arse to sleep!! I don't have time for gangsters, especially suburban gangsters!! LOL

maureen palmer said...

Ditto. I knew you would elevate this topic to the level it needed to be. I saw horrendous tweets on my TL that night, and the next day, especially from this one lady. Another great post.

Natasha Hunter said...

Word!

Natasha Hunter said...

I'm in agreeance.

Natasha Hunter said...

You aren't from Willacoochee are you?

Natasha Hunter said...

Girl, stop singin' my song...

rozb said...

Imma fight you, GAM! LOL!

rikyrah said...

thanks Boug.

I knew you'd come out with something good.

I totally understood Grant Hill.

Ms_Smart said...

*slowly stands, claps slowly, then faster*

I completely get both sides but it's amazing to me that people act like people who have (or had) the same beliefs as Jalen are well within their rights to speak their truth but people like GRant can't!

OneChele said...

Let me take a moment to shout out the folks who were too chicken-shiggity to respond here but decided to send me emails calling me everything but a child of God. Thank you all for proving my point. I always know when my inbox turns nasty that I'm telling too much truth (even if it's just my truth) for some people. Y'all keep it classy ;-)

And now back to our regularly scheduled bouge...

OneChele said...

Thanks for popping out of lurkerdom.

michaeldavis said...

China or chinet, playa! We're good.

Jeannette said...

I grew up the same way, not quite Good Times, but not Cosby Show either. I'd say this. I stand dead in the middle of this Jalen/Grant situation. Kudos to those who made sure that their children didn't have to struggle like they did. I give major props to them. I come from an immigrant family so my path was different, but I can honestly say I'm doing better than my parents did.

From Jalen's point of view, kids like Grant made White folk feel comfortable, he was safer. I guess that's his animosity is coming from. I see this situation as simple as that. Seems like for the folks who had their "Blackness" in question, it seems like a deeper issue.

I'll also say this for every well off African American who had their Blackness questioned, there's also an African American who wasn't part of the whole Jack n Jill/Summers in Martha's Vineyard crowd who has had their background looked down upon by the "Our Kind of People" clique. Both are dead wrong,

OneChele said...

And this I would say is the best summary. Nothing about race in America is easy regardless of class so "can't we all just get along"? ;-) Thanks, Jeannette.

michaeldavis said...

Must watch IMO: Chris Broussard and Skip Bayless discuss Grant Hill's response to Jalen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbdAXoopR9Q

Penny said...

I am not on Twitter, so I missed the exchanges, but I have been reading about this issue in the blogosphere. Same fight, different day. Why some of us insist that there is some "authentic" black experience, and if you don't fit the checklist, you can't be Black. So tiresome. For example, growing up, we did not drink Kool Aid in my house. Ever. Does mean my family is not Black? Not according to my photographs.

It is unfortunate we Black folk feel we have to apologize for doing better (or wanting to do better) for our children, or from coming from a privileged background. (And hey, just being Americans makes us more privileged than many people around the world.) Not sure that I have seen that in any other group of people. I read the NY Times piece, and he explained that his grandfather came from rural Alabama, and did not learn to read until he was an adult. But his grandparents understood the need and importance of education, and made sure that their children got was they (the grandparents) were unable to achieve. In turn, their children (Grant) did the same thing. Isn't that what we as Americans are supposed to do? Shouldn't we be celebrating this? Why should someone have to justify this to the world to seem more acceptable?

I so agree with your friend that went to Duke-beyond the point of apologizing for knowing (and wanting) to read a book, having two parents that loved me and my siblings, and did everything they knew (and some things they didn't know, but learned how to do) for us to have a better life.

Some of the folks just will never get it. Do they think Ice Cube still lives in South Central LA? Yeah, right. Bet his kids go to the best school he can send them to-because he can now afford to do so.

David Parrish, Jr.(Inkognegro) said...

Alas....The issue with Mr. Hill's response is that He needed a time machine to deliver said message.

What is most nauseating about this entire kerfluffle is how hurt up both sides seem to be.


As someone who grew up Like Jalen Rose but was always perceived to have grown up like Grant Hill, My perspective is rather unique. Both sides would do well to Step outside themselves and Stop being all emo.

Its holding us all back.

Mykeia said...

Well good day BnB family...

Editing is a evil thing, it can turn comments into misused words, take words out of context and make others look like heroes.

Jalen spoke in past tense, please remember that.

Grant acknowledges some things too about Jalen and his past.

Both men are respectable now and come from different tracks of life...

Let's move on.

kjnetic aka Peter Parker said...

"Basically... I can't apologize for having two parents love me and push me to be all that I could be. I can't apologize for having the academic skills to do some stuff that others can't. I can't apologize for NOT living in the ghetto (because my parents made sure that I wouldn't have too.. because they didn't also want that for their kids). And I can't apologize for not wanting that stuff for my progeny. Either way, I can't help what people think."

"My black experience may not be your black experience but no one has the right to diminish my reality and question my ethnicity."

TKO!

kjnetic aka Peter Parker said...

as a fellow (former) cellist...i salute you.

*throws up the Bass Clef Signs...lol*

brownstocking said...

Yeah, late to the party, life has been steamrolling me lately and I have no spatula to scrape myself off the asphalt.

That being said, folks seem to downplay that Jalen still felt that way, at least from the post-brouhaha interviews he and Jamie King (who?!) are doing. For ONCE, I truly liked what Wilbon wrote, as opposed to whatever LZ Granderson was trying to say...

I agree with all that said we need to get over this, and I got over the "Bougie" epithet (and reclaimed it, duh, I'm here) in college. I went to an HBCU, partly because I figured, AT COLLEGE, we should all be over the divisiveness. I was so naive. I guess the grass is always greener in some ways.

My one beef with SOME of y'all: Purple Kool-Aid with lemons in it is. The. Bidnis. That is all.

Untouched Jewel said...

Ok Chele, I can somewhat see where Jalen Rose is coming from with all that he had to say. However, I believe how he came at Grant Hill was uncalled for. What I can't seem to understand is how this House Negro vs. Field Negro mentality is STILL continuing?! If any of us had any God given sense, they need to read the bible and look in the book of Genesis, where it shows how God divided the people on earth into the different nationalities. Now, when the nationalities were divided, it wasn't because of the color of their skin, it was by LANGUAGE. And if those of us who are African-American really had any sense, the slave master divided the slaves based on skin color, but guess what?! WE STILL SPOKE THE SAME LANGUAGE! Before we learned the English language (which technically isn't really English--that's another topic for later), we were speaking in African dialect. Anywho, I wish our people would once and for all take the time to research and really open our eyes to what's really going on around us. Sure enough this beef reeks of HN vs. FG, but this foolishness has got to stop!

Untouched Jewel said...

"My problem, even being from North Philly, were some of the kids that lived in the hood. Except for the time that I first experienced racism, wherein a Vice Principal in a school in the suburbs (first grade) said “oh he’s a light-skinned child, he’ll fit right in” and Moms went OFF."

I soooo had to laugh @ that last statement, because I could just about picture her snappin on the vice principle and all civil behavior flying out the window at that point. LOL. Too classic.

Pure Choco said...

I had the experience of both. Single parent struggling, iffy side of tracks. Then mom remarried and we moved on up and there I was on the bougie side of life. So I get it and overall it's best not to presume to know anyone else's reality. In the eyes of a whole lotta people - black is black is black. There are some folks in this country who don't distinguish between Obama and Flava Flav. No shade to Flav bat you know what I mean.

Joycelyn Curry said...

I have yet to watch the documentary, its still in my dvr que but I have been reading about all of the outburst over his comments and have read Grant Hill's response. It seems that people have this overwhelming tendency to define something and get mad when you don't fit that description. I too grew up being told I acted white because I was one of three black students in advanced placement classes in Tacoma where I grew up and learned early to let it roll off my back. It was an interesting turn of events when I elected to attend a predominately white college instead of an HBCU. A member of my own family actually asked me if I liked black people. I was the first, and so far the only, person in my family to graduate from a non-HBCU for undergrad and I feel no less black. I am over defending my blackness because it does not fit into your definition of what it means to be black. I can't understand how after the black power movement of the 70s, so many black people still want to define what it means to be black by the worst stereotypes of society.

CaliGirlED said...

"...people should be happy that he's able to articulate his thoughts."....So much for setting high standards for her students. Yeah she needs to get out!

CaliGirlED said...

Define yourself before others do. (Can't remember where I got that from, maybe Rev Run).

CaliGirlED said...

Shut the hell up! LMAO!!! As I think about going home to make some red kool-aid (haven't done that in over 10 years), to make sure I can't see my hand!...Still laughin!

CaliGirlED said...

Just wow!!!

CaliGirlED said...

Go sit in the corner! LOL

CaliGirlED said...

Amen!!! At the end of the day, this is all that matters!

Just_A_Thought1218 said...

Le sigh, le boo, and le damn. I get so tired of this crap. Black is black is black is black. Just because it may be a different flavFrom skin color/shade, to socioeconomic status, to region/geography, there is no universal black experience.

I grew up really poor, even with a two parent (mom and step-dad) household. My mom pushed us to do better than what we were around, and we moved a lot to try to get the best schools/neighborhood we could. My mother put us in all kinds of different activities because she had dreams beyond what we saw in the neighborhood around us. She wanted so much more for us, and we're all still reaching for it.

The worst thing about all of that? Having to do it relatively by yourself. Whites (and other well-to-do non blacks, but this was a small minority in MI) weren't trying to see people like me be anything but a stereotype. Blacks from better financial situations were snide and condescending at worst, and unfriendly and aloof at best. Other people in the hood were jealous, unsupportive, and downright confused.

Anyway, before this dissolves into a long diatribe of "woe is me", I'll just say that none of us have it easy, and all this rich kneegrow vs. poor kneegrow foolishness adds unnecessary burden.

Tonda Williams said...

WoW... just WoW.... REALLY Chele?
*smdh*

CaliGirlED said...

Like brneyed1, I too grew up between Cosby Show and Good Times, I would say right in the middle somewhere. (I guessed that's why I loved both shows and knew that they both portrayed the truth). I grew up in one of the "nicer parts of" South Central Los Angeles. And although my parents didn't separate until I was 13, Lord knows it was long overdue. I am a firm believer in a two parent household, but I know that some folks are screwed up by the violence, abuse and other shiggity from parents that did not divorce....But wait a minute! The Good Times family had a father, void of the aforementioned shiggity, but poverty stricken nonetheless. So are we mad at "single-parentness" or "ghettoness" or both? Oy vey, I'm so confused!

Whether Jalen still believes that statement or not, we'll never know because to "clean it all up" he's saying that he doesn't. Whatever! Like I said on my facebook page, "Who is Jalen Rose?" There may be truth to some colleges recruiting from, issuing scholarships to, etc. a certain "type" of individual, but it was wrong of Jalen to then downplay and name call those who he felt received the "better of the deal" than he did.There are too many stories, sometimes too many, about the determined "ghetto, hood, poverty" athletes who are taken in by (mostly) white families and helped out. It's the luck of the draw, so stop hatin! Then there are those stories where the same said individuals tightened up their bootstraps and made it happen for themselves, despite their crack-head mama and non-existent father. Either get into one of those categories or STFU!

Chele, growing up in the "hood" I never experienced any of this,"Was I less black when Nanette Albaum called me "just a nigger" in third grade while explaining why I needed to allow her to cut ahead of me in the lunch line? Was I less black when the swim coach told me there was no way I was qualified for the team because "my kind" weren't known for our swimming prowess? Was I less black when I got caught in the rain on a field trip and my press 'n curl turned into an Angela Davis fro and the whole bus started laughing?"...And yet by this definition that we have self-inflicted regarding "Blackness", I would be more Black than you cause I grew up in the hood. This if nothing else should make folks realize that our experiences are very different depending on what side we grew up on, but neither makes either one more or less Black than the other!

Who is Jalen Rose?!!

Ladypoet said...

I grew up in a working class neighborhood. I remember one time being told I didn't know where I came from. Or I was to prissy or stuck up. I did not go to the neighborhood high school. I went to a magnet school, known for excellence and know for some students who did act stuck up.

Even as an adult, I get told things like only old ladies crochet or only white folks have bookclubs. SMH.

dwillwrite said...

This is great. I couldn't have said it better. This said it all:

.....makes me sad but I think I'm past apologizing for knowing how to read a book. Basically... I can't apologize for having two parents love me and push me to be all that I could be.

J B said...

FYI, a black man invented the Supersoaker. I worked with him.

Lady4Real said...

Brava! Brava! I couldn't have articulated any better then you just did.

Bethany Showell said...

I'm late, but great post. Like many people in the comments, I grew up smack in the middle. Two parent household, college-educated dad, and highly-involved parents that got on me and my sisters to get good grades. I didn't have any black friends growing up because "I acted White". At the same time we grew up poor, might not know where the next meal was coming from, and we were in the Section 8 housing w/the rest of the "real" Black folks. I never fit in, don't fit anywhere now, and I'm fine with that. I'm Black because I was born that way and that's what it is. It's a never-ending debate w/the classism among our own.

EC Thompson, MD said...

outstanding post. great job.

S. N. B. said...

If you watched the documentary and actually paid attention, Jalen said that he didn't hate Grant Hill but that he was jealous (key word: jealous) of his life. His mother struggled to take care of him while his father, who played in the NBA, didn't acknowledge him at all. Also he clearly stated that these were his thoughts when he was a teenager.

Mr. Skyywalker said...

Who said anything about hate? And Jalen then went on fifty-eleven tv shows last week and said he still felt the same way about Duke players so...

Nadette said...

This is the second blog post I read on this topic, and I fully agree with you. I think overall, there has been progress made, but progress is a slow process. I grew up in "the hood" and yet, due to the circumstances of my upbringing, I often had defend myself or prove to my peers that I was like them--or at least I would try, as naive teenagers are prone to do. I feel like I can empathize with both sides of this feud, because I've been on both sides of their reality. The key difference as to why I'm 100% "team grant" is that I'm old enough to understand that "blackness" can't be defined by hoodness, or bank status, etc--and that anyone holding on to that sort of mess AND a grown person, is willfully ignorant and narrow minded. As an "adult" I purposely try to make my world bigger--I crave and seek out new experience, new people, places and things--to gain a broader perspective on life. This feud right here is no different that the mess we see on the news about the tea party calling Obama hitler. Small towns, SMALL MINDS. As you would say Chele, folks need to DO BETTER.

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