Damali Ayo’s Vision Finally Becomes A Reality

Black professional party girl Genevieve Jones with Alex Logsdail and Kate Werble at the Guggenheim Young Collectors Council 2007 Artist’s Ball, New York, 13 December 2007. (Photo from Art Review by Tyler Coburn)

Yes, Virginia, you CAN Rent-A-Negro for your holiday party! Yes you can!

From Gawker:

Now that Obama has been elected, a tipster inside a PR firm tells us, clients are demanding “an increased number of African Americans added to the guest list” at their holiday parties. In the spirit of hope! The email can’t really be “verified,” but appears genuine and is just too important not to share. This firm has even assembled an official internal “Diversified Holiday Guest List,” in which they rank the top 10 acceptable black socialite attendees, in order of desirability. Uh… yes we can?

Yes. Bringing your new, sparkly, hopeful (and paid for) black BFF to a swanky holiday function is now the fresh, dope, chill thing to do. After all, you can’t purport to live in the post-racial era if it’s still just you, Heidi Montag and the rest of the Gossip Girl crowd at the party getting tipsy on Cosmos, Mojitos, Mochatinis and Manhattans. That’s not post-racial at all. But paying black socialites Genevieve Jones and Maggie Betts to hold back your hair while you hurl is the bee’s knees! No one will ever accuse you of being racist again. And how could you be? You paid black people to be at your party! You’re the Rainbow Coalition and a United Colors of Benetton ad French kissing Barack Obama rolled into U2’s “One!”

All of this made me think of Damali Ayo’s oft misunderstood, satirical/socio-political Web site and book, both entitled “How To Rent A Negro.” On the site Ayo offered rates for blackness rental for everything from having living proof that you can’t be racist because you have black friends to charing $100 for “hair touching.”

Created back in 2003, it’s almost like Ayo fortolled of the Obama era, where black people would finally be paid for answering annoying questions (“Do you tan?”) and being told you look just like that one other black person the clueless tool you work with knows.

On my Facebook page I described this all as falling back into the appropriation of ourselves for our “uniqueness,” re: “not whiteness,” we have going. I basically said we’re furniture. Black people have a history of being treated like furniture (or horses or luggage or pick your object that can be bought and sold), but it’s only been in recent history where we’ve been able to cash in on this phenomenon. So, like Ayo joked — half seriously — if people are going to appropriate your cool the least you can do is get a check out of it. Think of all the times we were the only Negro at the party for free?

But remember these wise words from a fictional stripper named Diamond, my would-be rental social black butterflies — make that money, but don’t let the money make you.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to put up my “Rent A Black Snob” service where I will gladly go to your parties and insult/mock your blackness impaired friends, all in a faux upper crusty accent!

Fun for everyone!

19 thoughts on “Damali Ayo’s Vision Finally Becomes A Reality

  1. Ouch!! Horses…luggage…furniture?? Free food and drink at a shnazzy place certainly compensates though. Hee hee. Um, where exactly on your facebook profile did you make the statement you referred to??

  2. Miss Sheeba: My Facebook quote was brief and largely about furniture and Rent-A-Negro. I elaborated more here, where I added the horses and luggage references. But it’s on my profile page under a link to the Gawker article.

  3. Accessories are property no?Funny thing is I just wrote a piece called Black women, Property Twice, today.Timing is everything, apparently.

  4. I saw this yesterday and I didn’t know if I should feel bad because I didn’t know any of the people on the list.Instead of getting paid to be the only black person at a party, maybe we should get a check for being the token Negro in some of these classrooms across America. I can’t even count how many times I was called on to speak on “the black experience” in college. I would be paid!

  5. oh the “Rent-A-Negro” service is just beginnng. it starts at parties and then moves to banquets. the token negro is back in effect for corporations, law and accounting firms, etc. affirmative action…what affirmative action? not with the “Rent-A-Negro” service. i think the question to negroes will be after this post-Obama era is this…what is your price?

  6. So, basically, to steal from Weezy, “it ain’t trickin’ if you got it?”BTW, I wrote about this too, and I’m mainly amused that Rachel Roy is apparently black by association.

  7. In all fairness, I’m told Paris Hilton (what exactly does she do again???) gets paid $100,000 to attend parties. It seems to be an already lucrative career path and we’re just getting the opportunity to cash in on it. I need to move back to NYC. No one in Central PA is even having parties. They sure aren’t paying for diversity at their parties. What was the name of that PR firm you mentioned?

  8. “i think the question to negroes will be after this post-Obama era is this…what is your price?” that quote alone, is priceless πŸ™‚ thank you

  9. i am available as the token negro at these functions for drinking booze and eating cheesy finger foods…i charge by the hour…and it’s extra cash if i have to pose for pictures… πŸ˜‰

  10. ohh.. today it’s a token negro, tomorrow black folks will be putting Native Americans novelty out of business for sure. Soon it will become fashionably acceptable for white folks to also announce how much 1/18 “black” blood they have… And of course some will have the nerve to say it was their great great great great great grandfather who was the black one. Wait for it.SMH

  11. ha!Okay I get Maggie Betts, but where the heck did Ms. Jones come from. I’m fascinated how she just moved to NYC and invented this “to the manor born” persona. Now she designing very expensive jewelry.

  12. I would be a token negress, scept that’s my day job. Can one moonlight doing the same thing?Oh, but both of my parents are Black, so I’m not exotic enough, I guess.:o(

  13. Random (well, not really): Am I the only person who thinks Genevieve Jones is a weird looking chick? Something always seems kinda…off about her.

  14. ya’ mean i coud have been charging a co-worker $100 a hair touch!!! instead of saying “i am not a doll. NO, you can’t touch my hair. everytime she reached for my natural.shucks!

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