Last Wednesday, our first black Attorney General gave a speech honoring black history month. In the speech, Eric Holder made this pronouncement: "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting, in things racial, we have always been, and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." He went on to say that race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race." I found this statement by Mr. Holder to be rather interesting considering that for the better part of the last three months, the vast majority have been celebrating and discussing the fact that we now have the first black President in American history. Whether you are in favor of it or not, Barack Obama's race has been a central theme of a lot of our recent political discussion. Is that appropriate? Is that the kind of conversation that Mr. Holder feels as though we are supposed to be having? Well, if you've been a fan of this blog for any significant amount of time, you know that I'm the political of the Brothers Williams. And I feel as though I've done more than my part to discuss race. But just in case when Mr. Holder was referring to me when he said that we are a nation of cowards, let me do my part to open the lines of communication with the many races of America. (Don't worry, I will handle it with my usual delicate and witty self).
The first place I want to start deals with the recent Hoopla surrounding a particular cartoon. On the very same day that Mr. Holder gave his speech, I came across an article about a cartoon that was supposed to be under scrutiny. I didn't read the article, but the lead of the article had the cartoon. I looked at the cartoon. In case you haven't seen it, here it is:
Now I don't know about you, but I laughed when I saw this. I mean, the people who wrote the stimulus package were no smarter than chimps. Hilarious. Later that day, it was brought to my attention that Reverend Al (Sharpton) was upset about the photo, and his perception that it was a blatant racial attack against President Obama. Now anyone who has lived on this Earth for at least 20 years should be very familiar with Rev. Al's antics. So my immediate reaction was one of indifference. But I had to stop and think for a second. Was the cartoon meant to depict President Obama as a monkey? I couldn't exactly come to that conclusion, so I had to run it past the one person who I knew would surely be offended. My best friend.
So later that night, I showed her the cartoon. And without fail, she immediately was pissed. So quickly, in fact, that it actually surprised me. After a 20 minute discussion about it, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I mean, in no way did I draw the connection between the chimp with two bullet holes in him, and President Obama. So my new question became, is there something wrong with me? I am a pretty laid back kind of guy. I never thought it would take a lot to offend me, but I don't know any more.
Do you all remember the Don Imus fiasco? That was when the radio host referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "Nappy Headed Hoes." When that controversy first broke, I immediately remembered watching their game against the Tennessee Volunteers, and I myself remarked at how the Rutgers women were a little rough looking in comparison to Candace Parker and the Volunteers. Well needless to say, this particular controversy had my best friend up in arms. We had many a conversation in which I was judged to be uncaring to the plight of African-American women. And that's not what it was at all. I just feel that we as black people need to stand up for once, and admit some things about ourselves. We also need to stop being so overly sensitive about subjects. I hope that when Mr. Holder referred to Americans as cowards, he was, without implicitly saying so, referring to black people as well. Much like with this monkey cartoon, we don't have to allow ourselves to be offended. Sometimes, things are as simple as being a cartoon about the people who wrote the stimulus package being as smart as chimps. (By the way, though President Obama called for the stimulus package, the authors of said stimulus package were the United States Congress).
So I want to contribute to the national discussion about race. I want to talk about stereotypes. Starting with my people of course:
1.) Black People love watermelon and fried chicken. Personally I can't stand watermelon. (Or any other melon for that matter). So to anyone who thinks that all black people like watermelon, you now know one who doesn't. Fried chicken on the other hand, I have to admit that I'm guilty of that one. Its not an essential component of my diet, but I am down with the yard bird. (That's what my father calls it).
2.) One of the biggest hurdles to us as black people is the stereotype that we are a bunch of criminals. I have to be honest about this one, we are the source of this stereotype. I myself included. Because this is a snitch free blog, I'm not gonna go into details, but I too have found myself on the wrong side of the law. (Rightfully so). Since then I have changed my life, and I consider myself to be a productive member of society, but that isn't the case for all my fellow brothas. I say that with this stereotype, don't judge a book by its cover. Because the person that you judge as being "safe" just might be the person who's quickest to harm you, and the person who you cross the street to avoid just might be the one who would come to your rescue. Think about it.
3.) Black men make a bunch of babies that they don't take care of. This stereotype is one that I take offense to. Not so much that it is completely untrue, because let's face it, there are far too many brothas who do walk away from their responsibilities as fathers. It offends me because the brothas who do the right things are still lumped into this category. As I said in my last blog, I had a daughter. And if I was given the chance, there's no way on God's green Earth, that she would have gone without knowing me, and being provided for by me. Even still, I have encountered people who are under the impression that I have children scattered across America. NO! Never have, never will. My parents raised me to know that any child I bring into this world, I will take care of. And if not, my father threatened to take me out himself. I just wish more fathers were around to make that very same threat to their sons.
4.) Along the same vane, black men are a bunch of players. Once again this stereotype doesn't fit me. I Love women, don't get me wrong. But for as much as I Love women, I don't think there's anything as good as having one woman who's down for you, and vice versa. The whole "player" lifestyle doesn't seem too appealing. Now unfortunately I am still single, partly due to my own choices, partly due to some circumstance I have found myself thrown into. But regardless, I'm still on the hunt for that one true lasting relationship. And once I find it, I promise you that I won't throw it away on the search for indiscriminate sex.
5.) All black people have rhythm or all black people can dance. Sorry to say, and I am ashamed of this one, I can't dance to save my life. It hasn't always been the case. Back when the running man, and the Roger Rabbit were popular dances, I was like Omarion on the dance floor. However as time has gone on, I just lost the "rhythm" that's supposedly in my genes. Sad thing is that I haven't stopped dancing. I've just got this gangsta bounce or sway that I do. Something I picked up during my many club visits in Atlanta. My best friend says I dance like her grandfather D.B. So whenever we go dancing she always says "Do the D.B. for me". One day I'm gonna get my dancing weight up. Either that or I'll be as old as her grandfather, and my dancing won't be so out of style anymore. Lol.
6.) All black men are well endowed. This stereotype, well I Love it. I mean, what a wonderful thing to walk around and have everyone believe about you. Well, I'm gonna keep it ALL the way real with ya'll. Yes its true. Lol. Moving on...
Now that I've discussed some stereotypes about my people, I want to discuss some about other races. When I say what I'm about to say, I'm just being honest about what my perceptions are about some other races. If you happen to be of that particular race, I invite you to comment and talk about how those particular stereotype makes you feel. Considering that the point of this blog is to open the line of communication, I want to be honest about my feeling:
My biggest stereotype about white people is that they do a lot of crazy shit. Shit like bungee jumping, skydiving, swimming with sharks, you know, shit like that. I have two very good white friends, and they recently invited me snow boarding. Its not my thing. But for the sake of being adventurous with them, I might do it. They say being black on a day to day basis is adventurous enough. (Dodging cops and what not). I wonder if that's why we aren't the thrill seeking type? Or are we just too logical to do those things. Hell, I'm sure that some of you who read this blog are thrill seeking black people, so who knows.
My stereotype for Asians is that ya'll can't drive worth a damn. Well, that and that you're smart as hell. Since I have yet to find an illiterate Asian, I'll tackle the driving thing. I have driven, literally, from coast to coast, and I find that I disproportionately find myself have near misses with Asian drivers. I can't quite explain why. (Please help me with this one).
Indians are a bunch of drunks. This one is, unfortunately, one that I have encountered first hand. I dated an Indian girl last year, and oh my God. She and her friend that I hung out with could drink anyone under the table. I'm not an alcoholic, but it does run in my family. So I can hold my liquor... most of the time. I once even out drank some Irish guys in Connecticut. But not once could I hang with her and her crew. The worst part about this stereotype is how many of them I have come across who have more or less drank their lives away. I'm not saying that this stereotype applies to every Indian, but I believe they are genetically susceptible to alcoholism.
My stereotype of Muslims are that they are religious zealots. I guess that this is the lasting image of 9/11. I know that not all Muslim are that extreme, but to me, there's something about Islam that appeals to people who are more, how do you say, disillusioned with the world. I mean, look at Nation of Islam muslims. Even they, without the violence of course, are anti establishment. Hopefully, at some point, the 90% of Muslims who are not fundamentalist will stand up against the 10% who fly airplanes into buildings. But until that day, I will be continue to be suspicious of men with long beards getting on an airplane. Just being honest.
So that's what I got. I have officially kicked off the Brothers' Blog discussion about race. If you have any comment, feel free to post. Please be courteous in your responses, but let's be honest as well. I believe that we can have an adult conversation about who we are as Americans. Let's just all remember that no matter what ethnicity we put before Americans, its the second part of the hyphenation that's important.
P.S. I had been doing well with not using the N-word. I had been on 3 for a while. But while listening to Deep Cover by Dr. Dre and Snoop, I let one fly. My brother says it counts, but you guys let me know.