I have been asked all day about what I thought of Sen. Harry Reid’s comments about America being willing to vote for Barack Obama because he was light skinned and didn’t use the “Negro Dialect”, unless he wanted to. I will upset some of you when I make my next statement. I absolutely agree! Not only do I agree, but I know many people agree because it was a topic of discussion on many occasions for me. Look, we can try to put our heads in the sand, and act like this statement isn’t true. We can even feign a false sense of offense to the statement. But it is absolutely true. Look at Madison Avenue. Look at the cover of just about every magazine. Look at the television stars. Look at movie stars. And this isn’t just about white America. Look at the covers of Ebony, Jet, and other “black magazines”. You will see a dominance of straight haired, light skinned blacks on a majority of the covers. I’m not saying this is right, or that it is even fair, but it is true; even in our own community. I am a dark-skinned black man. I thank God often for Spike Lee and Wesley Snipes. In Mo’ Betta Blues, when Shadow was breaking off Cynda Williams’ character (sorry I can’t remember her name), that changed the market value for the dark-skinned brother everywhere. It was okay for us be sexy then. Before then it was Al B. Sure, Christopher Williams, El DeBarge and other light-skinned brothers that were holding it down. Spike made it ok for Morris Chestnut to be sexy. But dark-skinned brothers are considered less sexy in many instances. The guy that handles my security is a 6’2, 6’3 light-skinned brother named Jason Barton. I’m secure enough to say Jason is a good looking guy (and he will break you down if you roll up on me too quick at an event). My boys and I give Jason a hard time for being a pretty boy. We do this because we still know the score. Light-skinned guys will more often be considered more attractive, just as light-skinned women will, though us dark-skinned ones get our love too. And though us dark skinned brothers are getting more love now, I admit, it is still a much larger gap between light and dark skinned women, til this day. So if we are going to act like this in our own community, how can we be shocked if the same sentiment is shared in the white one?
But the bigger issue I have is the “offense” we are taking with the “Negro Dialect” statement. Let’s stop faking like this is so appalling and we can’t believe it. I’ve been listening to this story a majority of the day and you know what I hear as a defense? I hear the same 4 people called out as articulate, not by white people, but by black ones. Martin Luther King, Al Sharpton, Colin Powell, and Jesse Jackson. Those are the four. 15 hours and a parade of hosts later and our own people can only think of 4 articulate men to use as a defense for us. That’s embarrassing and alarming to itself. I can’t count how often I hear Jesse Jackson mocked in the black community for LACK of articulation, and for making up words. So today to have him elevated as part of the standard is amusing in itself. Now I have often said that I am accused all of the time of trying to “act white” because I didn’t necessarily use the same vernacular as some others. I use proper grammar and I still get ridiculed. Not by white people, but by black people. My people! I hate to let the cat out of the bag, since apparently some of you didn’t know this, but there IS an assumed “Negro Dialect”! It may not be called that, but it is. We call it street, slang, and dirty south talk, and my favorite, keeping it real. I don’t even know what that means. And I won’t even start on our use of “The N word”. I listen to “our station” in the mornings sometimes and I hear, “What da business is? I watch BET and for but a select few shows, it just perpetuates the stereotype of our ignorance, laziness, and lack of sophistication. I am proud to say that the majority of programming and portrayal of black men on television doesn’t reflect me. But I’m sad to say, it affects me. I have to fight certain prejudices already due to my skin color. To say otherwise would be naive. But when I hear ignorant speaking, and look at my television and the representation I see is Lil Wayne, I shake my head. I listen to “our music” and all they do is tell me how much “cush” they’re smoking, women they are sleeping with, and calling women b’s and h’s. It’s pathetic. But what’s more pathetic is, not only do we allow it, we encourage it. We encourage it by doing nothing. I see women go crazy about seeing Drake, as he brags about lying to women and using them. Is this what we want to be depicted as? Irresponsible, non-moral having, panty chasers with nothing useful to say or do, but brag about being rich, sleeping with as many women as possible, get high an dsee how many times they can cuss in 3 minutes. Listen to what we say. Look at what we do. Where is our own respect? Where is our pride? We are more upset that Michael Vick killed some dogs than we are that women are being called b’s and h’s in almost every hot rap song out there, and we line up to pay money to place these people on pedestals buy buying there cd’s and going to there concerts.
If we depict there is a difference, don’t be upset that it is identified. Obama is more articulate and less threatening than many of the men (black or white) that I see (myself included- but I’m working to get better everyday). He makes people comfortable. He is a role model. If I had children, I would want them to look to him as a model of how to act in public and to display the pride of my family. But only for that. I don’t know what skeletons he has in his closet, and that isn’t my business, or the issue. The issue is Harry Reid’s statements. He said what a lot of us said (black and white). I know it. I said it. And I had it said to me. His articulation was impressive. It was. But if we are going to be insulted and pissed off, and call for a man to lose his job because we were embarrassed by what he said. Maybe we should spend some time fighting to be represented better by our own media. We hold the white media to a higher standard with our image than we do our own. Don’t think so? Why are people watching Real Housewives of Atlanta? That is ghetto if I have ever seen it. And Tiny and Toya? Really? We are entertained by shows we would be too embarrassed to watch with our white friends,and family.
Before we complain and be upset by the way white America sees us. Maybe we need to hold black media accountable for how THEY choose to portray us. But if you don’t want to, that’s your choice. I get up every morning and do whatever I can to display a positive image, be a good role model, and a positive ambassador of black America. For those of you who want to call that selling out, you can kiss my tail. For those of you offended by my words, too bad! Read someone else’s blog. Because to be honest, if you live in the real world and don’t think what I am saying is the God honest truth, I” don’t represent you anyway. You are part of the problem and you can feel free to de-friend me on Facebook, and un-follow me on Twitter!
I have worked too hard for the good and respectable name that I have. And too many people have sacrificed for me to be here. And I refuse to let some low expectation having, wanna-be, but never will, destroy the positive pavement I am trying to lay for the people, black, white, and otherwise, that come after me. I owe the black, and white, people that sacrificed during the civil rights movement for me to be treated equal, and have the same opportunities as everyone else. I owe my mother that sacrificed and did without, so that we could have. I owe the people that have helped me get to where I am, and to where I am going. I owe the generation that won’t ask to be born into this world, but will be here anyway. And I owe all of you who look up to me, that say the kind words of encouragement to me, that tell your children to look up to me, that asks me to come to your school and your organizations to speak to your members and students. I owe every one of you. I owe it to you to be the best man I can be. And I will do my best. I’m not perfect. I’m gonna make mistakes. I’m gonna fall flat on my face at times. But I promise you, I will get back up, and I will keep going. And hopefully, when my time on Earth is over, and I face the Lord in Judgment; he will say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
God Bless and Dress Well