Dear Don Lemon, I'm respectable as hell, now what?

It's one thing when folks outside the race make sweeping and narrow-minded generalizations about what "black people" should do to fix "our" issues. It's another when one of our own do it.

If nothing else, Don Lemon should know that not all black people face these five issues. And that even the repair of the simplistic issues he spouted won't repair deeply embedded racial disparity in this country. Mr. Lemon seems to think that if we all just assimilate and be respectable members of society no one will profile us, feel threatened by us, stereotype us, belittle us, talk down to us, deny us basic rights based on the color our skin.

Well sir, not to brag, you don't get much more respectable than my family. My father was a doctor, my mother an MBA'd accountant. My sister is a Global Director at a Fortune 1000 company. My older brother is a surgeon. I'm an HR consultant and published author of five books. My younger brother is a Director of Software Architecture. We're all degreed, some of us double. We live in nice neighborhoods, we drive nice cars, we speak "so well" and we're freaking nice to be around if I may say so myself. Our pants have never sagged and we have an abnormal fixation on clothing that might best be described as "preppy chic."

What I'm saying here Don... is that we are probably the closest real life approximation to Huxtablism (yes I made it up) as you will find anywhere. We don't (or shouldn't) scare people. 

And yet, my older brother gets mistaken for a waiter just because folks assume that's the only reason a person of his color should be in a certain restaurant. My sister and I get goggled at when we show up at four or five star resorts without aprons or vacuum cleaners. My younger brother, who drives a cream colored PT cruiser (the least gangster vehicle in the world), gets pulled over for Driving While Black on the regular. Just yesterday I was followed around a store in Far North Dallas for close to half an hour before I turned with a brittle smile and asked the woman to locate the jeans in a size 10 and meet me at the register. Once there I declared in a loud voice how awesome it was to get such personalized service that out of all the patrons in the store, Kaylie chose to follow me and give me undivided attention the entire time. She turned red, the manager started in our direction, I paid for my jeans and rolled out. (Don't judge me, those were $125 jeans marked down to $17.99) Back to my point...

Tell me Don, what did my respectability earn me? What should I have done differently to not be treated like a suspect? Get educated? Check. Wear nice clothes? Check. Behave sociably? Check. What else could I do? Walk in with my hands over my head and declare, "I'm not here to steal anything, I promise. I have my passport, birth certificate, credit report, bank statement and college degree in my designer handbag. Feel free to frisk me!" O__o

One thing I can't stand is when people make generic "black people should" statements. It diminishes the conversation, clouds the actual issues and is so assumptive that it comes across condescending, belittling and naive. I took a Logical Theory class in college. The first thing they teach you is not to make generalizations that will ultimately prove false. The second thing they teach you is to not submit solutions to a problem that don't really address the baseline issue. If this entire debate sprang up out of the George Zimmerman trial than I'm wondering (as many of us have) what could Trayvon have done differently on that fateful night to save his life? The only answer is for him not to have crossed paths with George Zimmerman. Something that was beyond his control. The Zimmermans of this world only see black. They don't see any of the five things Mr. Lemon seems to find so intrinsic to outer respectability.

The deeper issue here is how to stop people from thinking like a Zimmerman. How do we abolish the instinct of some people to look upon people of color as a threat? Offering simplistic solutions and lectures on how we as a people should "do better" solves nothing and actual steers the discourse away from the integral point. I would think that of all people, Don Lemon would know this. Maybe he does know and doesn't care. Maybe he's just in it for the ratings boost. Either way, it was disappointing (but not surprising) to see someone of color with a national spotlight offering little else but empty sound bites.

As someone on Twitter said yesterday: We of the pretty and siddity set can't even ride with Don Lemon on this one. We're bougie. Not sellouts. Can I get an amen? Thoughts, comments, insights? Do share.

This week in #PostRacismFAIL: Zimmerman, Deen, SCOTUS

If you are anywhere near a media outlet today you are being treated to a full smorgasbord of race relations in America. As I (and many others) have been saying since Barack Obama's first election in 2008 - these here United States are not so post-racial. Not even close.

People need to let the idea that people no longer think in "black and white" go. As long as a white man can put a gun a to a young black boy's chest and pull the trigger - there's no post-racism. Oh, and in the Zimmerman trial? This happened:
"Knock knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? Good, you're on the jury," Attorney West for the defendent said.
Yes, the defense opened with a joke. We are not amused. With the slain boy's parents right there. Jokes? Keep it classy, teamZim, keep it classy. 

As long as a Southern cook can dream of a "slavery-themed" wedding with wistful delight and think that's okay  (and a legion of fans defend that ish) - there's no post-racism. Over the weekend, numerous Facebook pages supporting Deen and calling for a boycott of the Food Network popped up, with several garnering thousands of likes. “Show me an adult person who has not said the N word in his life, black or white. You without sin cast the first stone,’’ one commenter wrote. 

The line at Deen’s restaurant in Savannah, Ga., The Lady and Sons, was out the door all weekend as local residents showed their support. Notice anything about this picture?

As long as the Supreme Court can dodge the Affirmative Action issue and basically say "we're not here for that" - there's no post-racism. By a 7-1 vote, with one justice recusing herself, the court sent a case about the University of Texas admissions policy back to a federal appeals court for review — the Supreme Court’s equivalent of a grade of Incomplete.

The case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white woman who applied to the university in 2008 and was denied, and claimed that her constitutional rights and federal civil rights laws were violated. The Supreme Court ruled that the appeals court had failed to hold the university to a “demanding burden of strict scrutiny.” Instead, the appeals court “presumed that the school had acted in good faith” and required Fisher to show otherwise, the high court found. So... basically witht he exception of Justice Ginsberg (LOVE HER!) - SCOTUS can't be bothered.

Also, the OWN channel aired a documentary on colorism within the black community called Dark Girls on Sunday night. A firestorm erupted on the Twittersphere. Before I could even think to type an opinion I was told in no uncertain terms that "light girls need not comment, this was not their night" - oh. Alright then. Damn these Euros foisting their ideologies upon us generation after generation after generation.

It's going to be a long week. Thoughts on this week's news melee? Weary already? Do share...

Crime has no color (nor does idiocy)

Let's first present this shiggty (guised as lessons he tells his children) from John Derbyshire of the National Review without preface:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.

(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.

(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).

(10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”
I have questions -
1. They still MAKE people like this?
2. What kind of event is he talking about where black folks just flood in all of sudden? 
3. I notice he didn't reference his source for those IQ stats? The KKK newsletter perhaps? Aryan Nation Weekly? 
4. So the fact that the burglar I caught in my house (in a predominantly non-black neighborhood) was white means... what?
5. The fact that the one time someone tried to snatch my purse, it was a white person in a sea of white people means... what?
6. The only time I feared being gunned down, the gun was being held by someone not of African descent means... what?
7. By the way, if these were rules 10-11, I'm scared to know what 1-9 might have been.

Let's piggyback the aforementioned idocy with the email I received from a Guy calling himself White Night:
We don't know each other, let's you and me tell the truth. All of your relationship issues stem from the fact that you need a strong white man who isn't intimidated by your afrrican power to tame you. You only love Obama because he's half white. And if Trayvon Martin was a white kid you wouldn't care. Why don't you try being black, bougie and believable?
Are you still blinking with disbelief at your screen as I did for several minutes after reading this? This guy gave me "permission" to publish his email address but I say why? To give him the attention he so obviously seeks? No. Thank. You. I want to respond but I'm too busy cackling to say anything besides - huh? What ya'll know about my African Power? Does that come bottled or in a cream based formula? Here are my answers:

1. I've never had a white guy offer to whip it out and tame me. I'll take #IgnantforAnyRace for $1000, Alex. I'm confused, is dude trying to chastise me or date me? 
2. Obama shade is so passe unless you're running for national office. In which case, carry on.
3. If Trayvon Martin was white, he'd still be alive today.
4. I can't fit black 'n bougie 'n believable on the banner. 

BougieLand, do discuss. Thoughts, comments, insights? Gotta response for White Night?

#PostRacismFAIL: "You don't sound black"

I work for a global human resources and recruiting company. Mid-size and large companies outsource their talent acquisition so that in essence, we are their virtual recruiting department. (Hence all the yoga pants references) The account I'm currently assigned to is a mid-size software company in the process of growing to the next level. It means they are profitable and generally have bought into the recruiting model we've sold them. It also means that they have some small company tendencies still lurking about.

The other day I was on a conference call with an executive from Scotland and a Human Resources rep from New Jersey. We were discussing an opening for the Chicago office. After drilling through the requirements/must haves/like to haves, the HR rep indicated that it would be great for diversity targets if we could hire a minority female into the role.

The exec asked, "Michele, do we know any minorities in HR or recruiting who can assist with this?"

I pressed the mute button so my snort of laughter would not be audible and then I un-muted and answered, "Besides me, you mean?"

**awkward silence**

The HR rep piped up, "Michele, are you some kind of black?" (Yes, the HR rep asked this)

I rolled my eyes, "I'm all kinds of black."

The Scotsman said, "But Michele isn't a black name, is it?"

A black name?! Deep sigh. "Well it's my name and I'm black so..."

HR rep, "You don't really sound black to me."

Now I'm fed up, "What exactly does black sound like?"

**awkward silence**

The Scotsman tried to save the day, "My apologies. I do so hope you're not offended."

"Why would I be offended about being black? I've been this way all my life." Yep, at that point I was enjoying their discomfort.

Scotsman, "Perhaps we should move on."

Me, "Certainly."

It was obvious that they were stunned to find out I was black. So I got to thinking - maybe I should drop some more colorful colloquialisms into my every day lexicon? A few "whaddup, whaddups" or perhaps I could enter the conference call with a rap "Yes, yes ya'll. I must confess ya'll. My name's Michele, I'm here to tell I'm blackity-black ya'll" - whatcha think?

No? Mayhaps I should play entry music upon my arrival to the call. I was thinking the processional music from Coming to America?

Or maybe the first few 30 seconds of the Circle of Life from The Lion King?

Gotta keep it classy while still blacking it up. :-/

BougieLand, do we even want to get into how many instances of post-racism FAIL they stumbld into here? Need we discuss just WTH a "black name" is? Don't get me started on the "sounding black" of it all? Have you ever been "racially misidentified" on the phone? How did you handle it? Thoughts, comments, insights?

Is George Zimmerman in jail yet? We demand #JusticeforTrayvon

This post is part of a blog-in organized by in an effort to shine awareness and motivate action surrounding the case of Trayvon Martin.. 

It's been 20 days since Trayvon Martin was gunned down less than 100 yards from his family's home in Sanford, Florida by neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. My commentary on the case is here. My question is - what's is it going to take for the State of Florida to do the right thing here? 

It took over a week and a half for the major media outlets to get on board with this tragic story. And now we want more. Please sign the petition and keep the hashtag #JusticeforTrayvon trending. Thank you!

2012 and Walking While Black can still get you dead

Let me send a heated glare to all who feverishly claim that President Obeezy being large and in charge at 1600 Penn somehow cured racism or excused centuries of mistreatment and hate. If anything, his campaign and presidency have exposed so much ugliness that many of us hoped was receding or at least buried under good manners. 'Fraid not. I don't even argue with folks when they try to tell me that the fervent hatespeak coming from the right is not racially motivated. I just double blink and mutter "You lie!" under my breath. 

Does anyone really think the reason they don't let Obama expel a freakin' breath without testing the chemical compound of said oxygen is because of political differences? Really? But as if the FoxNewsDouchebaggery of it all weren't enough to convince you that racial hatred is alive and well in the great of US of A; I present to you the infuriatingly tragic tale of Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon, known as Trey, was a 17-year old high school student in Miami who loved horses and wanted to be a pilot. A few weeks ago, he went to visit relatives in Sanford, Florida. His relatives lived in a quiet gated community with a neighborhood watch and well-kept lawns. In the midst of enjoying some basketball on TV, Trey decided to head to 7-11 for a snack. On his way back, he clutched a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea bottle.

He had the unfortunate luck of running into George Zimmerman, a 26-year old (Caucasian) captain of the neighborhood watch. George decided that something (could it be skin color?) looked suspicious about Trayvon and started following him in his car. See the scene unfold in your mind with me.

George calls 911 and reports a suspicious man inside the gated community. The dispatcher tells George to fall back, they are on the way and will handle it. George ignores this and got out of his car to confront Trayvon. In the next five minutes some sort of scuffle broke out. Next thing you know, Trayvon Martin is dead 70 yards away from his father's house from a 9-mm shot to the chest.

Now it's bad enough that Trayvon is dead. It's worse that a grown ass man with a permit to carry shot a child who was holding Skittles and tea. But it's dead ass wrong that the shooter claimed self-defense and is waltzing around free at this very minute. Self-defense? Was Trayvon (at 140 lbs) threatening to pelt him with Tropical Skittles? Did he wave the tea bottle around aggressively? 

How in the entire hell is it 2012 with Obama in the White House and a black kid can be gunned down for being in a good neighborhood at the wrong time? Is this the modern day equivalent of "Reckless Eyeballing"? George even confessed to the shooting and I'm still waiting to see the Perp Walk. Where the hell is Nancy Grace on this miscarriage of justice? You can bet your last dollar that if Trayvon was the shooter and George was the victim, cameras would be rolling as "the perpetrator" was hauled off to jail.

I strongly rebuke people who claim that Trayvon should have been more careful walking in "that kind of neighborhood" - really? He wasn't playing loud music, he wasn't smoking a joint, he wasn't posseed up with five friends, he was walking back from 7-11 with snacks! 

BougieMom and I are in a gated community. Last week, we were held up at the gate because the person in front of us didn't believe we lived here. He pulled his car to a stop and tried to bar us from entering the gates. When I held up the clicker to show I had access, he moved forward and then waited to see which garage we were pulling into. Now this was me and my 79-year old mother in a BMW - what the hell kind of nefarious criminality did he think we were getting into? We've lived here for five years, ya'll.

What's worse - not the first time it's happened. A few years ago, we pulled out of the garage and realized that we'd left something behind. I pulled over in front of the house and a car pulled up beside us. A middle aged white man rolled the window down, 
"Can I help you?" He asked. 
Mom and I exchanged looks. "I don't think so," I smiled and waved, climbing out of the car. 
He climbed out of his car, "Are you here to see somebody? These are private residences." He probed. 
My smile faded, "I live here." 
His face went ashen, "Oh. Um. Oh. Have a good day." He got in his car and pulled off. 

Mom just rolled her eyes and shook her head but I was hot. Like angry to the point where I went inside and had to do the deep breathing exercises "Woo-sah..." before I could get back in the car and drive. And don't get me started on the Obama 2008 sign we had in the yard. I kept putting it up and replacing it when it got kicked over... and over... and over again. When someone had their dog defecate on it, we took the hint. 

My point is, please don't tell me that Obama was the magic cure for racism. The ish is embedded and passed down generationally like eye color and grandma's biscuit recipe. My question is - what are we going to do about it? For starters, we can slap George Zimmerman in some cuffs and carry his ass directly to jail on a murder rap... Just in case you have some free time, here's the info to holla at the Sanford, FL po-po.

BougieLand, what say you? What can be done to eradicate these kinds of things from happening? Anything? Will racism ever die? Isn't enough, enough already?

My Black Card ain't like yours...

Black CardA card given to all African American people just for being black. The card must be renewed annually by pledging loyalty to any number of pre-approved black causes or by scaring an undisclosed amount of white people, preferable in upperclass areas or in states like Connecticut. We have not ascertained it's usefulness and/or worth.

Case One: I quote from my email, "Chele, you can't be clowning Herman Cain. He's one of us and we should support him. I get that you're bougie but don't get your black card pulled."

You know what? If my Black Card is in anyway tied to the lyrical stylings of Herman "Did I Do That" Cain, you can have it back. Call the Negreaux Validation Committee and tell them to get on the case because I cannot with Hermie. And I certainly don't give two shakes of a damn about Citizen Cain over President Obeezy. Yeah no. Obama was never (ever ever) in danger of losing my vote to the Pizza King.

Case Two: From my tweets, "Why aren't you backing Reed Between the Lines? We finally have bougie black folks on TV and you won't support it? C'mon!" Second tweet, "You have to watch some BET just to keep your blackness up."

It's great that there is a bougenificent fam on TV. And I swearforeGod I tried like hell to like the show. But I don't. It's missing something. A live audience, a spark of sumthin' sumthin', I don't know but it's not there. I love Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm Jamal Huxtable (yes I know his real name) but their cuteness isn't carrying the show. Her wardrobe and his tight shirts are pleasant to look at but not so entertaining for a half hour.

If it were my show, I would have revamped the premise. I would have made her a single mom just divorced with the twins who meets Malcolm and has to decide if he's worth making an emotional investment. The growth of how they ascended to bougenificence would be far more entertaining but maybe that's just me.

If the regular watching of BET impacts my blackness, allow me to go all exotic and declare myself Guyanese-Southern. Just make up my own dang race. 

Case Three: From my Facebook mail, "You should get a reality show. You'd be so much better than NeNe."
Me, "Which one is NeNe? You know I don't keep up with all that."
"Girl, are you sure you're black? Every black girl knows NeNe. You gotta at least watch Housewives!"

Ur, uh - what rule book is that in? Did the NAACP set up an #OccupyRealityTV movement did Rev. Al march for countrywide recognition of NeNe? What are the chances that I sell fewer books or hire less people because I don't watch any of the HouseWifery shows? I'd say nil. NTTAWWT (Not That There's Anything Wrong With That). 

All of this commentary on my endangered black status has lead me to the conclusion that mayhaps the Black Cards come in different levels of Blackness? For sure there's an Honorary Black Card, and then maybe there's Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond level Blackness. Or is it more of a coffee scale? Latte, Caramel Macchiato, Mocha, Expresso? Le Bougie Shrug.

BougieLand, besides affirmation action and Michelle Obama's hair are there set issues that black people are expected to care about simply because we're black? Are we the only race that does this? Do share and explain. 

Five Topics Black Twitter need not debate anymore (please)

For those not dwelling in the Twittersphere, let me just share a few things. Twitter, Black Twitter in particular, is kind of like high school. You have the intellectuals, the militants, the hoodrats, the artists, the popular set, the invisibles and those that kind of fall somewhere in between. On a weekly basis, some of the exact same debates/beefs/comments sprout up and the various factions line up on one side or the other and fire at will. It's like Breakfast Club meets Groundhog Day

Sometimes I enter the fray and lob a grenade or two myself. Particularly when MSNBC aired the Black Agenda with no black host to be found. Don't get me started. Here are the list of topics that Black Twitter can retire or kill or bury alive - it's doesn't matter... just make them stop:

1. Obama's blackness - Far as I can tell, not a one of these people has been cuddled up next to Obeezy and therefore have not a clue what it's like to be the 44th President of the United States while being black. This does not stop numerous random pontifications about whether he's doing enough "for the people" or is just a big sell out. The debate over whether he'd be President if he were dark-skinned, had attended an HBCU or married a white woman? Beaten to death and useless.

Every speech, every plane ride, every congressional wiggle sets both liberals and conservatives alike into a frenzy. They have to let you know how much they love hate wish they were are just like mis/understand Obama with increasing volume and rhetoric. It's exhausting to watch. After a certain period of time, you start noticing people just tweeting "co-sign" or "fist bump" or my favorite "hmmm" - it's easier to just let it fade out... until the next time. Look, the man is black. He's the President. He's either doing what he can or he's not. It's as simple as that. 

2. Hair - Who cares if you rock a weave or sport a natural? Apparently, a good number of Black Twitteratti. Generally it will start with an incendiary comment from some man trying to instigate. Something like, "Black women who wear weaves are self-hating fakers!" Someone follows up with, "Natural hair people are nazis!" [These are actual tweets folks!] And we're off... You get the testimony of people who have gone natural and a sidebar conversation into hair care product starts. Then you get the weavologists jumping in with a sidebar into where the best virgin Indian hair is to be scored.

At some point a magazine or webzine focusing on "issues important to black women" enters the fray with a link to "weave horror stories" or "how perms are dangerous to your health" - I wish I was kidding. Before and after pictures spring up. Men align themselves: for, against, or we don't care as long as the cocoa gets stirred. This happens at least once a week. More often during award and reality show season. Nothing gets Black Twitter going like badweavitis (see The Braxtons for reference). Enough already. Please put India.Arie's I Am Not My Hair on repeat and exhale.

3. Tyler Perry - Let us pray... Father God, please let folks of African descent living on this side of the continent come together and recognize that Tyler Perry is neither the second coming of your son, King Jesus nor the earthbound incarnation of Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. In your name we pray, Amen. 

There are few shades of grey on the TP of it all. People either really, really love him or really, really hate him. And ne'er will the two sides agree. It is what it is - no more discussion needed. [We can also place Oprah, Beyonce, Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Steve Harvey and Tyrese in this same category]

4. BET - Pretty universally people agree that it sucks. And sucks a lot. But you have a group that rails over it's suckability and watch anyway, this infuriates the group that would refuse to turn to BET if they were the last station standing after Armageddon. It's just that serious. 
Tweegro A: "God! BET sucks"
Tweegro B: "And yet you still watch."
Tweegro A: "Don't judge me!"
Tweegro B: "Don't be a hypocrite."
And we're off.  [This is the same discussion for "Insert the name of any Reality Show with Wives in the Title here" as well. Yes, we know most of them are not actual wives, the title is for entertainment purposes only] Just once, I'd love to see some solution-based tweeting. If every time one of these arguments broke out, folks donated a dollar per tweet, we could buy BET from Viacom and use its power for good.

5. Dateability/Doability - The same unemployed troll who is living in his Grandma's basement with a blow up doll for a girlfriend starts these stupid trending topics at least once a week. Clever and classy topics like #Thisiswhyyouresingle #WifeyMaterial #OnlyCrunkwJunkintheTrunk #IwoulddoUif ... again - I wish I was joking. Then the women come back with #DudesNotDateableIf #Mymanbetta #DontDateHimGirl ... oh it goes on and on.

If not a trending topic, then someone writes an article about the best women to date, the men that women overlook, the best way for women to make themselves more doable/dateable and the battle begins. Women go in about scrubs trying to come across pimpalicious, men go in about single women who will never get a man. Is it impolite of me to say that in the time it took to sling those Twitter arrows forth and yon, folks could've been done and dated and moved on? 

Honorable Mention goes to the Black Representative Debate - (I'll admit a fondness for this one). This is the swirl around the Cornel Wests, Michael Eric Dysons, Reverend Als et al. The question is asked - are these the best "spokespeople" we've got? And then we discuss who should step up and replace the current talking heads. But since the mainstream media is more than happy to have Al spouting his rhetoric, we just wince our way through.

2nd Honorable Mention to the ever popular interactive game Where's Black Waldo. Yes, this is when Black Twitter convenes in front of our televisions for some sort of major event  (like for instance, the Oscars) and begins to search (usually fruitlessly) for Black People.
"Wait, there's one! Oh she looks good."
"Seriously, they couldn't find a single person of color for this?"
 "Spike Lee got robbed with Malcolm X" <~~~ comes up every year like clockwork
"2011 and this is the best we can do?"
There's my list. I know it's a fruitless wish that these topics go extinct. Some of these discussions are tales as old as time. But a girl can dream, can't she? Or is that up for debate too?

Wanna add to the list? Agree or disagree with mine? The floor is yours...

Wait - so now I'm a racist?

So I'm at the drugstore Friday and the guy behind the counter asks me if I'm a golf enthusiast and will I be watching The Masters this weekend. I responded truthfully, "I only watch if Tiger's in the hunt." The older white guy clutching a box of Merlot, a container of berry-flavored Metamucil and a king size snickers bar standing right behind me in line said, "Well that's racist."

Le Sigh. "I beg your pardon?" I turned to look at him.

He's waving his Metamucil at me. "You only support golf if the black guy has a chance to win? That's racist!"

"Um, no. I'm not a golf lover, but I'm a Tiger Woods fan. So if he's on and doing well, I'll watch."

"Even after he screwed around on his wife?"

"What does his infidelity have to do with his golf game?"

He shrugged, "I don't know. That's how you people are."

When will folks learn that letting the phrase 'you people' fall out of your mouth is just never bueno. "Which people are those?"

"Black people. Or uh - African Americans is what you're called now, right?"

So much wrong with what he just said, I chose to ignore most of it. "I think I read that Tiger doesn't consider himself black, sir."

Dude is turning red in the face now. "What about Obama?" 

Oh here we go. "What about him?" I swiped my card and entered the PIN number. Half the folks in the CVS where starting to look nervous.

"Is he black enough for you?" <~~yup, he really said that.

"Okay beyond the fact that you called me racist but every sentence out of your mouth is sounding mighty confederate; I don't know what you want me to say here. I'd love and support America if Barack wasn't president. It just so happens that he is the President of the United States of America, he is biracial, one of those races being black. He claims that. But I'm an American. Not a golfer. Maybe if I was a golfer, I'd watch golf even if Tiger wasn't playing."

"So you admit you only watch golf when a black man has a chance of beating a white man?"

I rolled my eyes, "I'm sorry - who are you?"

He stuck his chest out, "I'm a veteran, served my country proudly for thirty years."

"Well I appreciate your service to this nation, sir." I grabbed my bags and walked out. When I looked back he had started arguing with the guy behind the counter.

This is what we have now? Folks pleading reverse racism over a golf tournament? Rush Limbaugh saying that Obama is treating the troops like slaves? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Let me just leave with this En Vogue classic, Free Your Mind...

In Search of Blackness: Yo Black, what flavor are you?

Although it's been going on for longer than I've been alive; it appears to me that in the time since the "Obama Ascendancy" there is a mad scramble to define what "blackness" is. Black may be the flavor of the month but no one is quite sure what that means. From Michael Steele inviting Republicans up to his "heezy" to the right-wing talking heads seeing reparation conspiracy theories everywhere. We're witnessing a crazy scramble to put blackness in a box, therefore containing and subduing any thoughts of getting ahead of ourselves. (i.e. re-electing certain brown-skinned folks in 2012)

This cycle seems to rinse and repeat no matter how many times we grit our teeth and repeat one of the following:
  1. We are not a Monolith
  2. We come in multiple flavors
  3. We're a group of diverse individuals with varying experiences who happen to share a racial chromosome
  4. Don't put Baby in a corner
  5. We can't be defined, quit trying
Someone always has to try. And I feel the sentiment behind this is summed up well in the classic Black Sheep tune, Flavor of the Month:

Let's see what kind of flavor I want...
Do I want, vanilla?
Or do I want a taste of chocolate?
Hmmmmm... I want something different, I want somethin slammin'.
What's the slamminest flavor out this month...
Let's see...
Yo black! Hmmmmm, what flavor are you? 

Let's start with the curious case of Antoine Dobson. For those unaware, Antoine Dobson is a young man living in the Lincoln Park projects somewhere in Alabama. An intruder attempted to rape his sister and the local news interviewed the entire family.

From this clip, folks made remixes, bands played the remix, Antoine got him a website, a Twitter account. It went viral. Most interesting though was the mixed response from black folks. Some people were mightily offended that the news put this bandana-wearin', syllable-choppin' negro on blast. Others were highly amused and added "Run tell dat, homeboy" on the end of every sentence. I fell somewhere in between. Antoine spoke his truth as best he could. The only problem came when a random non-Black person asked me about him in the check-out line at Target. I was like - hold up, are all Black people required to speak on the actions of the whole race? I missed that meeting. Antoine Dobson no more represents me than I represent him. And I think we're both happy that way.

Slate Magazine's writer Farhad Manjoo attempted to write a thought-provoking article on "How Black People Use Twitter". The first problem was that it was illustrated with a brown bird rocking a fitted cap and clutching a smart phone. The article attempted to get to the bottom of some popular trending topics. Never you mind that a lot of those topics are generally started by a younger subset of black "youth" who tweet from smartphones. A great breakdown of the article  was over at Black Snob's place last week. The problem with the article is that not only does he paint all Black Twitterati with the same brush but he behaves as though Black people are a curious species to be studied like pet projects for biology extra credit. As referenced by my first link about the "Monolith" above, Alicia from, took the article and turned it into something witty by creating a range of #browntwitterbirds and the term #tweegros (Negroes who tweet) was spawned. Hilarity.

And finally, Dr. Damn Laura. I actually didn't know Dr. Laura Schlessinger was still on the air. BougieMom put it in perspective when I asked her what she thought about this. She said, "WHo is she and why is she important to me?" Exactly. Anyway, Dr. Laura is still on the air and took the opportunity to drop the N-bomb six times in one show using the time worn argument that black people say it to each other so it's hypocritical for us not to want to hear white people say it to us. Yeah, not a good look. How many diggity-darn times do we have to tell folks - just don't say it. But the worst part of her rant to me was the phrase: 
And what I just heard from Jade is a lot of what I hear from black-think...
I had a minor aneurysm reading that. Just what in the holy hell is "black-think"? To me, the idea that there is a group "black-think" ideology that each and every person included in the race subscribes to makes me absolutely crazy. Seriously? In 2010, we still need to say some of us play chess, some play bidwhist? Some like T.I., some like Tchaikovsky? Someone is still letting a phrase like "black-think" fall out of their mouths? In Public? On a syndicated radio show? Arrgh. Makes me wanna holla, throw up both my hands.

So let me just say it one mo' gin as clearly as I possibly can: Blackness is not a state of mind or a state of being, it's a skin-tone or a genetic marker. You can no more group us all into one pot than you can distinguish raindrops during a torrential downpour. To attempt to do so is futile, serves no one and just reveals an appalling lack of intellect. 

Who can tell me what "black-think" is? Do share your thoughts, feelings, comments on all of the above... the floor is yours.