Recently two college students in Minnesota were getting a mud facial. Ahhh, a relaxing day at the spa. OMG!! Upon looking in the mirror, they realized the mud had magically turned them into “real negroes” from the hood. A transformation of this magnitude was definitely worthy of a noting, so they decided to video tape their new found blackness and upload it to YouTube. I won’t direct to the footage because I don’t want to increase the madness, but trust me you can Google it. Alternatively, check out the Root’s detailing of the event. Since the video has gone viral, the girls have issued a statement. You know the one when they say sorry my bad, it was a bad decision…..now move on. But they will get their 15 mins of shame fame and the world will indeed move on. Some folks are outraged about this and spewing venom from all points of the internets. But not this guy. NOPE, I’m not outraged one bit. Because this is your fault!! This is what happens when the chickens come home to roost so to speak. Jonathan Sprinkles, big time college speaker, once told me, “Chris, you have to teach people how to treat you. And not just by your words, but by your actions as well.” I always thought that was one of those deep clichés, until now. We have taught people how to treat us by our actions, or inaction, and our words.
As a community, we have always had a code of conduct. A way of surviving in a world full of double standards by having our own set of double standards. In the Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois describes it as a double consciousness or “two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body”. My momma used to say what goes on in this house stays in this house. I like to call it the Doppelganger Syndrome; having two dialects, two levels of comfort, two personalities all within the same body. However you describe it, if you are black in America, you understand. At least you used to. We used to hold certain truths dear to our hearts and communities, no matter how ugly they were, those truths were ours. Reserved for Colored Folks Only. Some were used in everyday language, like nigga, dog, bitch, and homeboy. Others were reserved to cut deep during the dozens, Yo Mamma, Nigger, and jiggabo jokes. No matter when or how they were used, they were always reserved for us. For black people that had earned the right to use those words because self-deprecating remarks make it easier for everyone involved both the speaker and the listener, to accept the truths in the statements. Somewhere along the line, in our most recent history, we have let go of the things that defined us. Whether by choice or lack of opposition, the things that were inherently black are now urban. Hip-Hop has become universal, just in time for everyone to profit off it except black folks. Now, even those dark truths, the ones I thought would always be reserved For Blacks Only, have been thrust into the mainstream. In the name of diversity, comedy, controversy, whatever… concepts we once only gave others a glimpse of, are put center stage in bright lights.
Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Harris made it a point to let their non-black audiences know, up front, that if they repeated the jokes to a black person they were likely to get their behinds whipped! A new generation of comedians and actors made no such caveats. Forward thinking entertainers like Dave Chappelle and now Key and Peele routinely display images, language, and concepts that play on the stereotypes of black people. Only they don’t let you know it’s For Blacks Only. The success of the Chappelle Show spawned generations of imitation deliberately pushing the boundaries of comedy and offensive. Once worried that using the word nigga in the presence of black people would lead to a step show on their face, people outside of the culture now routinely walk around quoting Dave and Charlie Murphy quoting the late Rick James. While their intentions were noble, they ushered in a style of comedy that was uncomfortably close to being offensive in the hopes that it would highlight how ignorant the stereotypes they were mocking truly were. What it did was allow two white girls in Minnesota to feel comfortable enough to think a little mud on their face was enough to embody the foolishness they see on their television.
However, it’s not just the comedians. Heck comedians will always push the boundaries. It’s your fault too. It’s your fault for not checking your non-black friend when they use the word nigga while quoting Kanye and Hov. It’s your fault for uncontrollably laughing when they reenact scenes from Tosh 2.0 or Key and Peele. It’s your fault for wanting so much to assimilate in a culture that ultimately adores every curve of your lip and bop of your hip that you allowed them to be comfortable enough around you to steal even your ugliest truths! Is it your fault that racist things happen, of course not!! Racism still alive, it’s just your fault they ain’t concealing it!
Do you think what the young women did in Minnesota was wrong or offensive? Was it funny but just in poor taste? Is it your fault that America has declared open season on black culture? To mock and imitate in public things, that in years past, were only done in private? Is it okay for everyone to use the word nigga now? <<< that’s a whole different blog.