Thursday, January 7, 2010

White Writer's Take on Black Black vs. Barack Black, Featuring Jay-Z

I find my fingers striking the keyboard with gale force. I know I shouldn't allow myself to be annoyed or offended by this stuff but nonetheless, I am. In an Esquire magazine piece on Jay-Z, writer Lisa Taddeo

anoints Jay-Z as "the first black-black guy to cross over into Oprah-land and Bill Clintonworld without making the Oprah-sized no-look-back forward flip that means you're selling not necessarily your soul but perhaps something fleshier, a little more external."

She takes it a bit further with the assertion that "Jay-Z is black black. He is old-school double-dark-chocolate-chunk black. He is black the way Labatt is blue. He is not white black, Barack black, like our president. Or the kind of black that doesn't curse and deplores the n-word, the genteel black, like Oprah."

I guess Ms. Taddeo (like most of the world) has yet  to read this blog, hence she is one of what seems to be the majority of white Americans who have been brainwashed by mainstream media to believe that "black black" (real, average, everyday) black people grow up in poverty, sell drugs and own guns; whereas "Barack black" black people who speak proper English, get an education, marry before having children and have good credit and no criminal record are somehow less authentic, less everyday and more of the exception than the rule.

I wholeheartedly concede that neither Oprah Winfrey or Barack Obama are average everyday people. But that has nothing to do with their race and everything to do with their tenacity, business/media savvy and a heaping dose of being in the right place at the right time. Neither Obama nor Winfrey could have achieved what they have 30 years ago—no black American could have.

But where did the writer get the idea that Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey are less than authentic black people? Because they appeal to white people and can conjugate a verb means they are being less than true to themselves? I cringe and become enraged as I revisit the myriad instances when I've been accused of being exactly that for precisely the same reasons. Sadly, not only do misinformed and small-mind white people harbor such beliefs, but also black Americans who either choose to live in  a state of self-pity or have drunk enough Kool-Aid that they actually believe and insist upon living down to the general negative stereotypes.

As my stomach begins to settle and my fingers once again begin typing rather than assaulting the keys, a realization begins to form in my mind, perhaps a partial epiphany. The years of "separate but equal" did all too good a job of not only separating but hiding the black middle class. Those grainy black and white film clips from the 60s and 70s are filled with housing projects, riots, serpentine welfare lines and downtrodden and defeated looking black people. Rarely do they depict the neatly-landscaped yards and clean streets of black middle class neighborhoods where black doctors, lawyers, teachers and the like raised their children.

I digress and suffice to say that this is yet another example of the one-sided story that mainstream media tells regarding African Americans.

1 comment:

  1. "Jay-Z is black black. He is old-school double-dark-chocolate-chunk black. He is black the way Labatt is blue. He is not white black, Barack black, like our president. Or the kind of black that doesn't curse and deplores the n-word, the genteel black, like Oprah." - This is what bothered me the most. The problem is not the so called "Blackness" or degree of Blackness it is a social difference..NOT a BLACKNESS ISSUE! I would say Socialecconomic issue but I am BLACK-BLACK DOULBLE DIP BLACK BLACK, But I am educated! This disturbs me immensely But I am not surprised at all and that may disturb me even more!! When is white America going to WAKE UP??? - Black Power and extremelty pissed off!!!

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