The Snob

Share Your “Unconventional Wisdom” With The Snob

I’m putting together a series to run, possibly in May after I come back from my East Coast trip, about “uncommonly” held beliefs on race, religion, politics, economics, health/lifestyle and gender amongst black Americans. The series is meant to feature polemics challenging long-held beliefs within the community on “facts” we often take for granted and don’t reassess.

Anything and everything goes. No subject is off-limits. Nothing is too taboo. A matter of fact, the taboo is encouraged. The idea is to get people talking and thinking about why we believe what we believe and whether or not these beliefs are valid, necessary, if we should cling tighter to them, let them go or create something different altogether.

Some potential stories could be:

  • Your case on why the black “marriage” crisis isn’t a crisis, but a case of retrograde thinking
  • Why you think it’s archaic or unnecessary to date solely within your own race
  • Why you think Affirmative Action has run its course
  • Arguments for and against the modern black church
  • Why you think integration was a mistake
  • Arguments for political realignments or for more political diversity in the black community
  • Arguments on what a sexual revolution for black women would and should look like

The more novel your ideas (with lots of sources and solutions to back it up) the more likely it will be picked to be part of the series.

If you have an idea you’d like to see me explore, please send it to me via email or if you have an idea you’d like to write yourself and see published on the site, submit your idea via email. Ten stories of “Unconventional Wisdom” will ultimately be chosen to challenge what is perceived as popular opinion in the black community.

For those of you with strong opinions (but are used to getting shouted down before you can get a word out), this is your chance to explain, in detail, why you’re right and why the rest of us need a good calibration.

Afterwards, those with the strongest arguments against the polemic will be allowed to present their own ideas and reactions to these pieces.

I hope you’ll want to help by participating in this project and will share your thoughts! With that said … Happy offending!

Advertisements
Standard

25 thoughts on “Share Your “Unconventional Wisdom” With The Snob

  1. dukedraven says:

    I rather see your opinions personally, Danielle, as most people here. You should start the discussion. (Question: why in the heck are they running that IQ testing ad with Obama having a score of 86. That’s almost mentally retarded. Is that supposed to be funny?)

  2. Danielle Belton says:

    @ dukedravenOh, I’ll be adding my opinion to the mix as well, but I enjoy opening up the blog to others and their ideas.

  3. Zion says:

    Integration was one of the greatest myths of our century. Just because people are present together do not mean that they are integrated, it just means that they are in the same building, and breathing the same air. Unfortunately, we did not heed Zora Neele Hurston’s warning when she stated that we should focus on resources being funneled into black institutions instead of trying to place our children around whites. Today, you see school failures, especially in black and poorer white communities because the resources are not there. The resources remain present in the more affluent schools. Think about it. Affluent schools are not on the academic watch list, its mostly populated to those institutions that service poorer populations or those of color. Now that they’re in these "white institutions" blacks make up the majority of special ed, bd classes, and remedial classes. It’s no coincidence that even the discipline system has come under question. Black children are not even punished for objective rules, but instead the subjective, that which is subject to interpretation. I would love to see the snob do something along these lines.

  4. Andrea Williams says:

    Here’s one. Why do immigrants of color say Caribbean do better on average in America than African-American? Do A-A on average absorb the very worst excesses in terms of American mass culture or what? I know we are supposed to ignore what we see all around us, but I notice it. I’m a librarian in a small city, 100,000 + in North Central Texas. On average the average AA student of color is barely treading water but the Caribbean students who attend school frequently are academic and leadership stars. They are leaders in virtually any academic area they pursue. AA students on average are just treading water, or not joining or doing anything that makes them stand out and are in dire shape if they graduate to get jobs because they were just in the masses. They did little that said positively pay attention to me. The sole exception are the athletes who in general I don’t count because they are there solely or predominately athletic glory. I’d like to look at that. If no one tackles it maybe I’ll try my hand.

  5. Andrea says:

    Andrea Williams,I noticed that too when I visited colleges years ago. Most of the student leaders were Nigerians at HBCUs and non-HBCUs. And at Howard, the Carribean students were organically stimulating as a block however I did not see them as transcending the threshold because they were too discipline to perform as disciplined, reticient students allowing the mainstream blocks to remain the voice and energy of Howard’s environment. Those that dominated Howard were the loud "I want to be famous" sets–not the scholars that wanted to be groundbreaking. Finding serious students that were intellectually curious was like looking for a four-leaf clover. They were there but they were over-shadowed, meet, and too few to make a dent. They were also weak-spirited in their self-righteousness to know they were smarter and probably going to be far more successful than their attention-seeking peers but they were selfish to not care or waste their time trying to care. They were gaming it to get out of the school and other schools as fast as they could to go onto an Ivy because "being Black" and prideful in the Old-School way had proven to lose its cache and the growing trend for anyone trying to be somebody was to forget saving other Blacks at the expense of sacrifice and altruism. The students were learning to run to assimilate to be less prideful in being Black and the trend was to take on prideful assimilation as a tactic to survive.At the time, I remember a looming trend also noticed at the colleges was that their was a growing "gay party boy" network and "hard lesbian" trend. I noticed the party boys hung around their own and entertained the campuses and tried to disrupt anything for attention but the hard-projecting lesbians hung around straight girls and were not as disruptive and attention-seeking as the party gay boys were. I was upset that I could not meet a seriously intellectually charged gay male student on any campus. It seemed like the party boys had hijacked the identity and microphone for young Black gays on campus and it was upsetting because these boys wanted to cry gay rights but knew no history of really of civil rights or gay rights history. I was shocked at how manipulative the ones I met were to want to play victim but not gay rights advocate seriously or civil rights advocate seriously. A lot were from broken families and products of sexual abuse to find their way into college to want to party and be part of the fashion industry or want to a journalist. They were stereotypical and it was sad.I didn’t notice any gay mentorship from distinguished faculty or staff on campuses to calm them down and steer them into wanting to become scholars. It was disappointing because two of the people that influenced me are gay older Blacks. The male did have a period of partying in his life but it was not while he was matriculating to school in the 60’s. Both of them know social history up and down and they take their space seriously as not only citizens but gay citizens. I saw that the young gays on campus were too two extremes of marginalization self-imposed. The schools did not treat them a certain way. They relegated themselves to noticeable roles of attention-seekers, the males, and the ladies, they wanted to not be noticed feminine. They were hard and masculine yet they did not seek to lead as a typified male trait. I realized their social identities were obvious on campus as well as the trends they evoked. They have changed college environments but schools will act like they are invisible. And for what I saw that was troubling and unhealthy of the distinct groupings, I saw how it was unhealthy for the entire student body to notice the elephants in the room to just carry on like there is nothing to talk about, address, or seek. I knew that a lot of older Blacks on campuses thought by ignoring them that was a way of using the marginalization to deal with them. Still, I felt weird as a an activist that was straight looking at self-imposed Blacks within an already marginalized group, being Black, decisively relegating themselves to the statuses they had on college campuses to two extremes. I did meet "normal" lesbian women at Spelman that you would not know were lesbian because they were healthy about it in not seeking shocking attention but they were open. At Morehouse I did not meet any openly gay guys at the time that were not flamboyant. And at Clark there were so many ladies that projected as males. Dillard was being overtaken by the party boy gays and some colleges had these males that openly identified as male AKAs. It was scary and upsetting.The entire time for all those years on the road, I noticed straight women were mostly silent to phenonmena except one Dillard student but the adults were mum. And while this was occuring the Nigerian students were in leadership positions on the campus never really getting all of what I needed them to get. They were driven and could see the Black social problems but they were from more supportive family networks and social systems that regular Black students did not have. They could not translate that to their peers without hurting them or making them jealous but I knew that Nigerians had a different ethic about aspiring and attaining the American Dream. So those Black GenY peers were clueless that their Nigerian peers were taking over campuses around the country in scientific research, business development, and simply social camraderie on campuses in more enterprising ways because the Nigerian students stopped pushing that they were "African students" first and started to indentify as African-American. The native-born descendents of slaves did not notice the first generation Nigerian American borns into this country were not like them and were more like White students’ ethically in their social design and value system about American ideals and free enterprise opportunity. There was a lot of beauty to appreciate their nuanced difference until and when the same Nigerian students would approach me to try to swindle or copy what I was doing. It was the males ironically and not all of them but it was a surprising and hurtful trend to notice that they learned the free market enterprise system to want to rob me or copy what I was doing right down to stealing my fonts and copying my entire website to rename themselves Dangerous Negro. It’s Newton’s Law. Everything will have a positive and negative reaction to everything. I saw their beauty and their uglyiness as an identfiable niche while they were going under the radar as a block that would show that type of stereotypical demographic trend. Those groups are not identified in the mainstream Black community as rising groups that are changing the face of what is typified as African-American on campuses.

  6. Marie says:

    @AndreaI don’t think there has to be tension in the black community between newly arrived Africans and black Americans that are descendants of slaves nor various ways of being gay and lesbian black people. I think the most powerful tool in dismantling racism is acknowledging and allowing black people their differences. I think the diversity you described above is positive – except for the part about you getting your ideas ripped – that sucks! I don’t know the guy in question but not all cultures share the Western idea of intellectual property rights and some people are just cheating bastards – don’t know him, so can’t say which one he was. All in all though I think there are many, many ways to be black. I say the more people that feel black and do it in their own way the better!@the SnobWhat about black dads? I think it’d be good to hear about modern fatherhood from a younger man.

  7. Andrea says:

    Oh, no…Marie…I agree with you. The diversity is normal. It is evolutionary. It’s just sad and pitiful that gay Black college students that I kept meeting were self-imposing their marginalization instead of knowing how to advocate for inclusion. I remember their were a lot of ladies at Spelman that knew how to advocate for gay and lesbian rights but the lesbian girls at Clark were not empowered. They acted out in a rebellion action instead of ever being agents for their niche. You could meet the new block of gay students and wonder how and why did they not know of famous gay individuals who were significant in the American society and the Black Community. They did not know nor was the school helping them to find a space of welcomed inclusion. So instead you got these fringe kids using their bodies (the hair, the dress, the tatitoos, the being loud and flamboyant) as their identity to hold to–not anything scholastic that was secure and supportive that made them feel inclusive so they would not have to act out and perform for notice of visibility.There is a major youth gay population here in DC that is out-of-control and the problem is not that they are gay, it is the root from where they come from. They are party kids and that is all they know to cling to or want. They only care about shopping, fashion shows, modeling, and trying to be in fashion. They don’t have the human capital to feel confident to compete anywhere else and a lot of it has to do with never having come from any normal functionality in a family unit. They only know the gay community as for how they can fit in it. They can’t even fit in with the Black gays who are educated and open but financially secure and socially secure integrated within American society. They don’t know those Black gays who don’t have to act out but are openly gay and at peace with their sex, the acceptance or denial by others. The kids, I realize do a lot of the performance display at the colleges for visibility but also desperation to find some traction that matters. And the fashion industry and journalism (being a television personality) is what is the word to for gays to strive to do in their niche of their gay sub-culture. They don’t have the social capital to support them at this point of their lives (at their age) to know they could try to muster the human capital in community to support them to be competitive in other sectors of society. I agree with that there are many ways to be Black but one should be healthy in their subculture and understood. People just ignore these young people or placate them and treat them as entertainment fodder when everyone can’t run to fashion and everyone can’t be a television personality. These young people need a core foundation of knowing that Bayard Rustin and James Baldwin or Audre Lourde or Barbara Jordan, etc. was not obsessed with fashion or being on television but they ended up being known for their greatness through contributions. I found that eventhough the females had gender-identity issues they were more interested in trying out other areas of academic interest. They just did not as well care for trying to be accepted as "normal". I met this young woman whose sister is going through this at this very moment and she wanted her sister to meet several of the gay individuals at our job who "don’t act gay" in coded dress or performance but are openly gay individuals. The sister said it was a growing problem at her school, Bethune, as well. Her sister went to Clark-Atlanta. She told me her sister did not know "normal" acting gays that coudl offer her the security to not have to feel she had to fit into a culture that she only thought would accept as gay in that she had to look like a male, get tattooed, and marked up and act like a man. To be honest, she would never get a job where we are but she accepted this identity and sub-culture when she does not have to. I know several Black gays that don’t self-impose themselves to an form of ostracization to them blame the world for not accepting them. They are acceptable because they are "normal" in not making their sexuality a stigma. I think this needs to be explored deeply by our own people who are not understanding why these younger people are acting out and people need to sift through the bullshit when the young people say it is just what they want to do. They are rebelling when they don’t always have to. Being gay is something a lot of straight people like me will defend for them without all the antics of almost self-mutilation and self-exile. The gay communities need stronger members–not those that make it harder for them to be taken seriously. One thing I learned about people and shame though is that sometimes people think what they feel is pride when it is shame. I think in a weird way some people act out as their shame when they say it is their pride and project it back on us to make us uncomfortable and set us up to deny them. The sister and the family thinks the lesbian sister tries so many things to make them NOT LOVE and NOT ACCEPT her when they have tried over and over again. It’s her acting out to feel visible but in making so many besides the family objectify her even more wondering "what the hell?"Chloe Hillard did a piece in the Village Voice about this a little bit: http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-04-03/nyc-life/girls-to-men/I wish they too were not feeling they had to adopt these sub-cultures that are not healthy. That’s all. My former mentors who are open, successful gays can’t stand it because it is not healthy…pure and simple…and it makes everyone the Bad Guy for not supporting them to acting out and self-exile themselves when they could be inclusive as an open gay member of society.

  8. Michele says:

    Okay, I’m going to say it. I’m sick to the eyeballs of hearing about a ‘Black Church’. There IS no ‘Black Church’. I grew up Catholic, as did many blacks from Maryland and Louisiana or with family from those states, as well as many people from the Caribbean. I did not grow up with a minister, or with people singing gospel, or hours on end in a pew, or fried-chicken picnics, or believing Jesus was my personal savior. I grew up taking evolution as a given, knowing Christian history back 2,000 years, and thinking ‘Amazing Grace’ was a song played on bagpipes at funerals for cops. The same goes for everyone in my family and pretty much every black person I grew up with. The few black Protestants I knew were for the most part Anglican, Lutheran or from some high church denomination; they didn’t run around whooping and hollering and believing God had time to chat with people personally in made-up languages. While I’ve been to a Baptist church and find it as interesting as going on one of those National Geographic expeditions to a relatively unknown culture, and while I think original gospel is quite pretty (I’ve seen people singing it on PBS specials, I encountered it in elementary school and high school when we talked about folk music and the Civil War, and I have Aretha Franklin records), ‘Black Church’ culture is as alien to me as the lives of people in Lithuania and incredibly more disturbing. I honestly don’t understand how anyone in the 21st Century could let someone who has never read John Calvin, Martin Luther or others tell them what the Bible means, while showing no understanding of it as a text that has been translated many times after coming from a totally different time period than our own. As ignorant as many modern Catholics may be, we do understand that God didn’t write the Bible in English, and that without a knowledge of other languages and Jewish culture, pretty much everything in it is out of context. We also haven’t seen a conflict between science (which we see as a gift from God) and belief, and we don’t claim to know what’s in God’s mind or to be worthy of his personal friendship. Many of us have even gone so far as to revere saints and the idea of God without thinking that the Pope is right about most things in the modern world; after all, it was a Catholic doctor who invented birth control, and black Catholics in my experience tend to be much ore accepting of gayness and gender/sexual difference than are black evangelical Protestants. We’re also pro-art, pro-academic education and pro-secular music. So therefore, how can there be one Church when the so-called ‘Black Church’ pretty much ignores and rejects science and technology, produces art that’s pretty much on the Hallmark Card level, and substitutes enthusiasm and claiming to ‘know’ the unknowable for quiet research and logical inquiry? Meanwhile, black Catholics and high Protestants have founded charities that have been going strong for two hundred years and more in the New World, educated multitudes of children and helped run city governments since the Civil War. It’s time that non-evangelical beliefs be taken seriously. Islam is NOT the only other ‘black’ religion in the US. To many of us, what is called the ‘Black Church’ is an entity that in the present is made up of people who want to live in the Dark Ages, and we don’t want to have anything to do with them and feel no close cultural bond with them except through the shared histories of segregation and slavery.

  9. Lola says:

    The average African immigrant is better educated then the general US population. It is unfair to compare middle and upper class African students to working or middle class American Blacks. The central Africans that I have met in America come from families with doctors, educators, scientist, and high ranking military backgrounds. It can also be said that recent immigrants in general study harder than American students due to both the quality of the school systems they came from and their families own aspirational goals. They don’t make the effort to move to another continent to sit around and be lazy.

  10. Andrea says:

    I’m loving what Michelle and Lola has added. This is a hot idea, Danielle. Finally we are giving intelligence a microphone. These women are making valid assessments. I like when we are supported to be supportive to expand and challenge the status quo dated memes.

  11. Danielle Belton says:

    @ AllGood! Good! You’ve already started! Keep the ideas and questions coming. And don’t be shy! If you want to write it up yourself, just say so and shoot me an email!

  12. Erika M says:

    I agree with my man Zion on the points he made re: integration. I don’t have any literature or research to back my points (I’d love to be pointed in the right direction if someone knows of a text that discusses the effects of integration in greater detail); however, I would say that before and since integration we have been aspiring to White ideals instead creating and aspiring to our own ideals. Why not just make our schools better instead of placing our children into environments that were then and continue to be hostile? Now, decades later, our schools continue to be segregated, it’s evident in St. Louis public schools and I’m sure other schools in other cities across our nation. I have long thought that integration was a mistake. I wonder if integration to some extent as generated other ills within our community: the disintegration of the Black family, violence in our communities, complacency with our current station. I understand what integration symbolized in our history but I wonder how different our trajectory would have been if we would have persevered to improve our own schools instead. Of course I’m playing Monday morning quarterback, if I would have been alive and socially conscience at that time, I may have cried integration myself. Anyway, I’d like to see much more on this topic. Thanks for the opportunity.

  13. Marie says:

    @Snob and anyone else who’s interestedThe comments here have been an interesting read for me because even though the aim is to have a different sort of conversation about the black community – highlighting "uncommonly" held beliefs – I still feel weirdly alienated from the conversation as I often do whenever the topic of blackness comes up. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is an interesting discussion because it seems like new perspectives on conservatism are coming up and that’s great. That is "uncommon" if you mistake most black people voting Democrat as equal to being liberal. And I’m not slamming conservatism. It’s just I often feel like the oddball because I’m not conservative. I don’t want pity but am writing this because perhaps other people feel this way too? I don’t have an opinion on the Black church because I wasn’t raised in the church and am not religious. I don’t care if people choose marriage or not – I don’t think it’s a crisis. I am married myself but don’t think it matters if other people are or aren’t. Where am I going with this? I think what I’m getting at ties into one of the topics the Snob mentioned above: the need for more diversity in black politics. I think there should be space for liberals and conservatives and middle-of-the-roaders. It would reinvigorate conversations about the black community if we claim these distinctions because I personally feel this impulse to walk away from the conversation when conservatism gets presented as the unspoken norm for blackness. I don’t care if conservatism is the majority view. I’m even conservative on some points. It’s just when it becomes normative that it gets uncomfortable. Perhaps if we spoke about ourselves as black AND liberal or conservative or whatever our political position then there could be more space for constructive disagreements? When people (myself included) don’t claim their political view, I can do this really unhealthy thing of telling myself "well I’m not black enough I guess" but what does that mean??? Intellectually I know it is OK to be black and liberal but on an emotional level – when I’m honest with myself – it’s a different story! Am I alone on this?

  14. Danielle Belton says:

    @ MarieI completely understand where you’re coming from. and you’re not alone. I wasn’t raised in the church and I am politically very Liberal. Both these things actually make it harder for me to bond with some black people because for many blacks church is so pivotal. And as a kid I almost felt "betrayed" to a certain extent because my parents had raised me on DuBois and Langston Hughes and Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Ida B. Wells, telling me that it was my duty to be intelligent and thoughtful and questioning, then told me that I needed to bond tightly to the black community. What often wound up happening was that my nerdy, disciplined self ended up hanging out with people I had next to nothing in common with. Especially in college, because I felt so much pressure to befriend black people in all situations even if I had nothing in common with those people other than skin tone.All of this has been very frustrating for my sisters and me because throughout our lives we were told we weren’t "black" enough, yet we felt we had actually done what was asked of us as members of the black community by striving for excellence and embracing our history. It just seemed like a rip-off that we were raised under the James Weldon Johnson/DuBois, "don’t be good, be great" model while everyone else was just told to make a lot of money by any means necessary and reject intellectualism with fear and derision. Being black is far more complex than even black people give credit to, which is also the purpose of this series. I do plan on writing a piece on the day when I, the person raised steeped in "black consciousness" and "black history" and "black struggle" looked around and realized I had essentially one good black friend and all my other associates were either white, Asian or Latino. And there was this horror and feeling of betrayal and guilt and sadness at the same time because even though I was very happy with my friends and co-workers, I felt the statement this made was both loud and profound as it proved my own fears that I’d stopped hanging out with many black people because I found their viewpoints limiting. Once my parents’ external pressure to make sure I always had black friends was gone, I simply drifted towards people who shared my interests in politics, literature, film and comic books regardless of race and as I moved up professionally I was almost always the only black person who worked there.Ergo, I have one good friend who happens to be black who I’ve known since high school and I don’t know very many people who are both black and Liberal. A matter of fact, part of the reason why I created the blog was so I could communicate with other thoughtful/questioning people who happened to be black because it is seriously hard to find a roomful of us and I was tired of going to "hit or miss" functions where I wound up listening to someone drone on and on about how much whatever they just purchased cost, followed up by a sermon … or worse, what happened on "Tyra" that day.I meet nice people and I can talk to just about anyone, but I honestly don’t have anything in common with at least 90 percent of the black people I meet at random out in the real world.Cyberspace is much easier. I built a blog and you all just showed up on your own.

  15. Andris says:

    Re C’bean students and African American studentsSometimes I think it’s not fair to compare the two because a lot of us C’bean students who come here for college grew up middle class in families with educated parents so in a way, we actually may have had better lives than some African Americans or more motivation maybe, to go to college, to perform well. Growing up in some communities here could mean that there weren’t always black academically minded role models whereas there is no shortage of those in the West Indies since our islands are mostly black.Even more controversial- I’m not sure if maybe the fact that our education system in the C’bean tended to follow the British system so I’m not sure whether this makes a difference in how prepared we are ???

  16. Marie says:

    Thanks Snob! Such a relief to know I’m not alone. I too have one black friend from high school and can feel such shame about it. This was almost like a coming out for me! I don’t come from an intellectual family. What you wrote about the ideas and writers your mom exposed you to made me think about what I got from my mom: I’m wondering if my feelings of being an outsider have to do with coming from the lone bohemian branch of a very conservative, ladder-climbing, educated DC family that was always mildly amused by my mom’s "antics" with new age stuff and health. My mom also definitely raised me in the black solidarity school too which is a beautiful thing but can bring up tension when meeting black people who are very very different from me. My feelings of tension don’t come from being more academic but actually feeling like this bohemian weirdo but wanting to connect with more conservative black people anyway. I feel more accepted now but it was harder when I was younger. I was sometimes mistaken for a hippie (a nerdy one!) but I’m not (well the nerd part was accurate) and it irks me how much of lefty culture is by default associated with whiteness. All of this is getting easier because the lifestyle values I was raised with are becoming more and more normal – at least on the East Coast – but I’m apparently still carrying around some issues from my younger days!I would love to write something about being a black Liberal but I’m so swamped at work for the next month. But it seems like you have that angle covered yourself. Feel free to use the pains of this black bohemian in whatever you end up talking about 🙂 So happy you started this blog!

  17. Zion says:

    @Erika M It’s hard to find literature on this topic because too many of our more "progressive" sisters and brothers often mistake intergration for acceptance, so you will not find alot on this topic (i.e. look at the "intergrated" neighborhoods). It’s not to deny that racial progress has not occurred on some levels, but again, we are suffering because we fail to acknowledge what is systematically happening to our children. I want you to start with Zora Neale Hurston’s "Court Order Can’t Make the Races Mix" where she was harshly criticized for forcing blacks and whites to define what racial progress really is. To support your paper, find a troubled school district, (you named the St. Louis school district), and compare this district to a more affluent white school district that may not be that far away geographically. I guarantee you, the differences are startling. For discipline records, try Loyola University and their PBIS group. Research will back the claim that black children are intentionally, and unintentionally targeted by our discipline systems.

  18. Sabrina says:

    I am looking forward to a real discussion that will talk about blacks (motherland, american, caribbean or otherwise) and this notion of not being black enough. For me being Black is universal. Wherever I go in this world in my travels I represent OUR blackness. When Europeans look at me they see some shade of Black but nonetheless a black woman. And more than likely since I am travelling in their country the assumption is that I am educated, blah blah blah. Now when I meet someone who is Black I embrace them as mine no matter where they’re from. I married into a Haitian family, my mom’s family is from the south. My father’s side is very mixed from the north. And I have friends from all over (The islands, Asia, Africa, Europe, etc) so I have a world view that is not skewed by having a private school education where I was one in five black girls per grade. No matter how we have arrived in our lives what I hate is when others question your "blackness" because you don’t speak a certain way, or wear certain clothes or have the same "hanging on the corner" habit as they do. But in order for this to be an honest conversation about blackness we have to invite people outside of ourselves to be part of it. Japanese mimick our culture, Germans think we can all sing gospel (believe me I’ve been asked a few times) and well there is this love-hate relationship between AA and CA. It is all based on ignorance and lack of understanding. I was taught to take everyone at face value. I love and care about people for who they are not because they are from my ‘hood, island (not that I’m from one) but you get my drift? We need to hear what non-Blacks think too.I think there is a lack of understanding amongst blacks because of self hate. So when you come across people questioning blackness its there own self-esteem at stake. I’d love to see some dialogue about this. Because in the end there are low achieving schools, universities, etc for all under served poor communities and we’re being left behind because the family unit has not learned how to care. They simply point fingers. Some of us don’t value education because it’s "acting white" and so on.

  19. Lady M says:

    I think the whole "acting white" thing is prevalent among blacks, but in America. My parents are both from Nigeria and over there school is very different. Every child’s family has to pay for school, so it’s like boarding school, and it’s very disciplined. (And because of the high costs of schooling, not every family can afford to educate their kids.) It’s cool to be smart, per se. It’s the complete opposite from over here, which is very interesting. The last time my family visited, I sat in during class. There was a completely different level of decorum. The students were very, very respectful, and also very smart. Think about Barack Obama Sr. and him winning a scholarship to attend the University in Hawaii and later Harvard. The man must have been border line brilliant, considering all the other Africans competing for that same opportunity. Many Africans are very intelligent, but don’t always get the chance to develop those skills. Here’s my opinion: If we could somehow reverse this phenomenon, make it so that all blacks strive to be the best- prepared intellectually, the most driven in the classroom, we would finally be on our way to success. Idolizing entertainers and sports players is not going to cut it. I don’t know how to do this, but it would probably take a few generations and a complete 180 for anything to happen. The only reason why whites run things is because we let it be that way. Let blacks be like the Japanese, or Indians. Start churning out doctors and engineers in large numbers and people will start to take notice. I too, would love to see other’s thoughts on these issues.

  20. Michele says:

    I’m loving this discussion on so many levels.When I bring up black Catholicism, that’s not the same as being conservative- not going to a church doesn’t make one a liberal, either. I’ve met plenty of conservative atheists and a buttload of people who are religious/spiritual and extremely liberal as well as vice versa.And I agree on the differences between CAs Africans, and AAs; I was born here in the States, but have often been mistaken for a CA because of my interests and level of education. At present, I don’t have any black friends, because although I still make an effort to befriend other black women (I admit to ethnic guilt) most of them bore the pants off me. They cannot talk on a variety of subjects. the same goes for the majority of black men, also.Being a black intellectual in the US is very much akin to being a chicken that has been trained to peck out a tune on a toy piano. On one hand, there are people who stop, stare and admire- but they still see you as a chicken, and therefore expendable. On the other hand, other chickens see you as odd and don’t want to associate with you- not that you want to associate with other chickens without a talent, either.This does not mean that you end up hating all chickens, all humans, or even all animals. It’s just that you become wary of others and don’t necessarily have the cut and dried loyalties that most chickens and humans expect you to have, which makes you seem like a threat. And you often become one rather (rightfully) paranoid and mercenary chicken.I no longer look at other black people and automatically see brothers and sisters, or enemies. Ditto for all other humans, regardless of skin color, gender, or country of origin. I’ve been played too many times. Since I’m an alien to pretty much everybody (too ‘white or too ‘black’ in attitude or intellect, too ‘male’ or too ‘female’, not submissive enough, too intolerant of casual hatred, too homophobic/not homophobic enough (because i don’t act like a ‘proper’ dyke, whatever that means), too straight/not straight enough (because I keep fucking men), not religious enough/too religious (apparently, you can only be a believer if you do it the way other people want you to do it, and if you believe at all, you can’t belong to the super-special smart people’s club that some folks carry around in their heads), I’ve decided to truly BE an alien, and only please myself. I think there are lots of folks like me out there- but such behavior is known as ‘eccentricity’, and US people of color don’t celebrate or even tolerate eccentrics very well. what that means is that while one can find plenty of non-brown eccentrics out there, we all tend to see ourselves as the ‘only ones’. That’s bad. Why? Most of the great ideas have come from eccentrics and non-conformists, not from sheep. the nice thing about the internet is that free-thinkers can find each other, without having to deal with the peasant-y torch and pitchfork crowd.Sheep are good for only two things- growing wool and being turned into legs of lamp and vellum. Shepherds don’t really give a fuck what sheep think- but they do wield the shears and the flaying knives, and they know how to write on vellum. I’ve opted out of being a sheep. I’m even moving towards giving up sheepherding as a profession- some of us want nothing to do with meat production or usage, both in the physical and spiritual senses.

  21. Diana Barry Blythe says:

    @ MicheleObviously the stereotype of "Black Church" as represented only by the Protestant faiths would be frustrating to you as a Black person who is Catholic. But the stereotype of Black Protestants being ignorant of Judeo-Christian heritage and lacking top notch charities, which you infer in your post, is a prejudice that must be eradicated as well.

  22. Diana Barry Blythe says:

    My parents never told me to seek out other black people in particular, they taught me to look for wise companions/friends. I guess that’s why what two people posted above is a foreign concept to me – feeling guilty for not having "enough" black friends. Forgive me, I don’t mean to be rude, but that "black friends quota" sounds like it belongs to someone who wants to please people for the wrong reason.I’m not saying that I’m perfect, and it sounds cliched, but I assess a person’s character [which is what has kept me at this website, by the way: people who want to discuss something without name calling].Growing up, it was when I was around one of my cousins who was really into Jack & Jill stuff to the exclusion of "white this" or "lower income that" that I realized how free my parents had made my environment. I was free to be me and free to find my own interests. [Note: I’m not saying that all people in black social clubs snub whites or people of lower income, but my cousin snubbed them. She felt like she was betraying her social group if she didn’t. My cousin is another person trying to please a lot of people for the wrong reason.]That’s one big problem that I have with the concept of "Black Community" – the idea that brown skinned people have to be around other like-hued people or else you are betraying the group. I say, if you want to be around a lot of blacks, so be it ; if you want to be around only non-blacks, so be it. But you’re missing out on lots of good relationships if you limit your interactions by skin tone.I can only wish that people would throw off those mind shackles and liberate that last vestige of slave days.Perhaps the people who can’t find blacks who share their interests should use the internet to expand their sphere of friendships, as Danielle mentioned in her post above. Maybe they already do. The internet has opened up a score of friendships for me on various topics and with people of various skin tones and backgrounds.

  23. Diana Barry Blythe says:

    Don’t mean to be a comment hog, but I’ve finally distilled what I’ve been meaning to say.It is the stereotype that blacks identify whites as "other" and other blacks as "We/Us."I was painfully shy as a kid. My "We/Us" was my nucleus family and my "other" was everybody else in the world, including extended family.Of course I had to interact with the"other" at some point, so I barreled through and eventually found that not all people are mean or waiting to think bad thoughts of me. :)Perhaps it is this that has informed my somewhat blase attitude towards the black/white issue as an adult.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s