The Black Nod

I was eating some breakfast  in the break-room today.  One of my Black coworkers, Tanya, walked past and said, “Hi.” In turn, I gave her a nod.  A nod that was directed vertically, unlike the downward direction of the traditional nod.   The Black Nod.

"What's good"

I didn’t even think twice about it, but apparently Tanya takes this code-switching thing to another level.  She stopped abruptly when she saw the Black Nod, turned to look at me and said,

“Don’t be doing the Black Nod up in here.”

Then she walked off.  I thought it was hilarious.  I’ve accidentally done the Black Nod to White people before.  In most cases they haven’t known how to respond.  I’ve seen White people look behind them as if they thought I was nodding to someone else (probably a Black person). I’ve also seen White people do some sort of head nodding/shaking movement, as if they weren’t sure whether to say “yes” or “no”.  Consequently, I’ve been paying particular attention to who I Black Nod to, so I don’t understand why Tanya was tripping.  All of the Black people on the floor cut the code-switching when the crowd is racially homogeneous.  Plus, how the hell is she going to tell me to not do the Black Nod when her statement ended with “up in here”?

Anyway, I finished my breakfast and went back to my cubicle.  As soon as I sat down, Katherine, one of my White coworkers, said (and I kid you not),

Yo, what’s really good with lunch tomorrow?”

See… that’s that bullshit.

6 Responses to “The Black Nod”
  1. J. Michael says:

    LMAO! Apparently I have broken all the rules, starting with showing this blog to a couple of my coworkers. Oh, and we have a Katherine in our lab… I laugh at her instead of getting offended, which is very hard for me to do (laughing that is).

  2. Ikè Nwankpa says:

    I need to know how you do that Tumblr / WordPress follow thing because your blog is too funny, man. I’m dying over here!

  3. Cindy says:

    I’m posting to an old blog, but maybe I’ll still get a response. I’m a middle-aged white woman and for the last 20+ years I get the black nod fairly often. I first noticed it when I lived in Memphis where 99.9% of whites are hateful biggots. I was blown away because how did this elderly man know that I was the .01% in just a split second? Do you suppose it is just an unconscious response to my body language? Sure wish the white Memphians were half as perceptive; they all seemed to presume that if you were white it automatically meant you shared their perspective. If I hadn’t been so repulsed by these folks, I would have found it amusing to see their responses when I unexpectedly disclosed to them that I didn’t share their views. Just wondering what the black view of this is…

    • O.K. Kai says:

      I’ve lived in environments in which the population was >90% white, its nerve wrecking. Trying to mitigate the daily discrimination and dissonance regarding one’s self identity can be taxing. This condition necessitates quick assessments of people’s character and personality during social interactions.

      That being said, the man who gave you the Black Nod likely observed a particular trait that you possessed that alleviate his conscious or unconscious fears and trepidation.
      Everyone else, the people who you think assume the worst of you, likely did not observe the same trait, based on a number of variables. Which is understandable, since you said that you were “blown away” because of how the elderly man perceived your rationality. He’s been Black for a while, so I’m sure his social radar is quite in tune.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] feel solidarity in my brief dealings with the other isolated Black guys I pass in the form of the Black Nod or whatever. In DC this is not the case. I’ve walked past exactly two Black guys in suits and […]

  2. […] I nodded at people, the nod went downward, unlike The Black Nod.  I used my hands less when I talked.  I hadn’t known the other Black coworkers for long […]

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