For Novelty’s Sake
The post-racial society. A time in which people think racism doesn’t exist anymore simply because you can’t go around town killing Black men all willy-nilly. There are reoccurring arguments from academic communities that suggest that there is no such thing as “race”, and that we are all really distant relatives from Africa (Hey! We’re all Black!). Other arguments state that Homo erectus evolved into Homo sapien in Asia, Europe and Africa seperately, suggesting that race is very real. But in the present, race is an amalgamation of cultural and physical characteristics that are attributed to specific groups and heavily influenced by historical events. As time goes by, our cultures continue to blend and influence one another. We see everything from a world perspective and our sources of amazement continue extend beyond racial boundaries. This might be why my White peers at work find Black culture so… intriguing.
There are three White people in my age range on my consulting team. There’s Trevor, the guy who asked me if I used to be a thug (given that I have tattoos) and always talks about drug dealers and gangsta movies. Emily is the woman who calls everything “ghetto” and Katherine apparently had Black roommates in college, so that makes her an expert on soul food and rap (the latest Kanye West song that she’s heard of is Gold Digger by the way). These three White folks have a habit of irking my racial nerve. A couple of days ago, Katherine sends me an email with the subject, “CHECK OUT THE COOL PIC!”. So I clicked on it and a photoshopped picture of Run DMC with their faces replaced with those of Trevor, Emily and Katherine popped up.
Under the picture it said, “The Research Crew!”. Katherine, who was creeping behind me and peeking at my computer screen, asked me how absolutely hilarious the picture was. I told her it was a knee-slapper, but honestly, I was just wondering why the picture was relevant to a damn thing. It’s not like these three people had some sort of Run DMC inside joke going on, their names aren’t Danielle, Megan and Chris or some shit. What was so funny or clever about your research team photoshopping their faces onto Run DMC’s? Oh wait, not the whole research team, just the White folks. That’s right, there are two other Black employees on that research team and they actually hang out with Katherine more than she does with Trevor or Emily. So now we reveal what is truly going on.
The only reason Katherine sent me that picture is because White people acting like rappers is a staple in Europid entertainment. In fact, everybody gets entertained by White people acting like rappers. That’s why none of the Black people were in the picture, it’d look absolutely ridiculous. What would they do? Hop into a picture and photosop some chains and baggy clothes, then send it to the rest of the office? I doubt it. Unless you want to code-switch in vain. In which case you’ll end up with a White coworker hitting you with a b-boy stance when you come out the snack room, and you don’t need that in your life.
And you know what kind of sucks? The fact that “Black stuff” is so cool. You can’t be a Black person doing cool Black stuff in the office for shits and giggles, simply because you’re trying to convince these White people that you’re actually NOT like the rappers they see on TV. Is there an alternative for Black people to use for fun and unlikely pop-culture references?
Have you seen Justin Timberlake (White boy) and Jimmy Fallon (Whiter boy) perform The History of Rap? These two guys perform rap classics in chronological order and everybody shares it on Facebook. Watch the link below and tell me if it would be so entertaining if it were two Black guys.
The answer is no. Two brothas doing the robot? C’mon son.
It has become apparent that White people doing “Black stuff” is incredibly entertaining to the masses. But somehow, when we Black folk exhibit similar forms of cultural expression in the office, we often get labeled, generalized and misunderstood (hence the code-switching). Yes, it sucks. When Katherine calls out to me, “YO!”, from her cubicle, it’s cute. When I call out, “YO!”, I’m doing nigga-shit.
But we’re Black. We own Blackness and no one can take it away from us, no matter how cool Black is. Even some of the most important people in the world know that sometimes, you gotta do your Black thing and deal with the consequences later.