Monday, June 07, 2010

No one on the corner has swagga like us...

Except these people apparently:

Now watch this one (you'll probably have to turn it up, b/c it's an old clip):

What are the similarities and differences between these two videos? What's your reaction to the first video? The second one? Are these videos racist? Racish? One one and one the other? Both neither? Why?

Let me know what you're thinking; leave me a comment.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?

So this is officially my 100th post. Whoo hoo! For those of you that don't know, I've had this blog since 2006, but I only started telling people that I know in real life about it much more recently. If you're interested, you can click here and see where it all began. I would put up one of those gadgets in the sidebar that highlights the posts by month and year, but I feel like the main thing that would come out of that is an awareness of how sporadic my posting has been.

I initially wanted to make my 100th post a "best of" where I highlighted some of my favorite entries. But if there is anything that I have learned about myself in these four years of blogging, it's that if I wait for myself to get that list together, it could be quite awhile until you heard from me again. And as usual, I have a lot to say, so I think it best to just say some other stuff and write my retrospective post when the mood strikes. Besides, there's no reason that I can't honor my 112th post in the same way I would honor my 100th. We don't always need to be so focused on the round, smooth numbers. Plus, as I always like to say: my blog, my rules.

So today, I thought I would just share a realization that I had recently that I think will give you yet another peek into my psyche as a black woman living in the United States. Not necessarily every black woman's psyche, just mine: yourblackfriend.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a thrift store looking at some books. Since I wrote this post, I have seen the light when it comes to secondhand stores, and now they seem like places where you can get a variety of cool things at rock-bottom prices.

So anyway, I am looking at some books. There is a woman who looks to be a few years younger than me who has a cart (I have yet to find enough cool stuff to necessitate a cart, but maybe one day) who apparently wants to pass by me to look at some other books. But the thing that I found odd is that she didn't say, "Excuse me," she just stood there with her cart. And then the even odder thing is that when I did finally notice her standing there and took a step back so she could pass by, she didn't say "Excuse me," as she was walking in front of me. In fact, she didn't say anything or acknowledge in any way that I was being a polite person by making room for her to pass.

So this is where the being black part comes in.

A white person has this happen to them and has three possible options to choose from: 1) "This woman is rude and needs to learn some manners." 2) "I (white person) am too concerned with politeness and in fact this situation doesn't require an excuse me" or 3) "This woman was distracted with something else going on in her life. She's not normally a rude person, but if she wasn't thinking about how her boyfriend had just broken up with her ( or something equally traumatic,) I'm sure she would have said something." These are all pretty harmless explanations, and one can be chosen without really giving it a second thought. I suppose the second option might be an opportunity for further self-reflection, but that's really a personal decision.

But, I as black person have a handy fourth option that my brain can choose to consider: This woman did not say excuse me because I'm black, and she consciously or unconsciously feels like she doesn't need to say excuse me because I am black.

I think the immediate reaction of some readers at this point is, "Oh myblackfriend I think you're overreacting." Just stay with me, people.

We all know that there are some white people that don't like black people, right? Right.

So knowing that, it is reasonable to assume that if a white person doesn't like black people, they might generally treat black people in a less respectful way than they generally treat white people, right? Right.

So it is at least inside the realm of possibility that option four might be what is going on, right?


The maddening part of this is the fact that I was not in this woman's brain so I have no idea which of the four options was the motivation behind her behavior. In fact, the only way I might be able to prove that it was the fourth one is if there had been a white person standing a few feet away looking at another set of books and as she strolled past him she said, "Thank you kindly dear sir for making room for me to get by with my cart, I really do appreciate the gracious gesture." Then I would have a fairly good idea that something was up.

But things rarely happen that way, so whenever I'm out in public and someone is unkind to me, I have the unfortunate pleasure of wondering (even if only for a moment,) if the reason for that unkindness is the pesky fourth option. And a white person generally has the privilege of not having to concern him or herself with that possibility.

I feel compelled to say that I don't always immediately assume it's the fourth option, and I don't immediately assume that it's not. A number of factors come into play, and I tend to take these things on a case by case basis. The point is that there are still an unknown number of people who hold the beliefs contained in the fourth option, and that's the sad and depressing part.

I feel this was a comment and/or question provoking post, so don't be shy...let me know what you think.