Yesterday I was in the house with the kids holding on to my last thread of sanity when I finally decided to take them up the way to the Good in the Hood celebration. They had a blast. We ate cotton candy, they got their faces painted, watched a puppet show and we danced a bit to the live music. It was also nice to be surrounded by so many familiar faces, especially since 75% of my time is spent surrounded by those who look nothing like me. There’s just something I love about being a part of the Black community.
I’m sure you’ve heard a million complaints about Black people in your lifetime (and probably any previous lifetimes as well). This is America after all. Black people are lazy. Black people are loud. Black people are ignorant, uneducated, and illiterate. Black people are violent and angry. Black people are dirty. Black people live off welfare. I could go on for days.
The negative thoughts and opinions people have of the Black community are endless. However, those negative attributes ascribed to Black people are NOT the problem. There really is little problem when Black people are loud and ignorant and angry. The real problem with Black people is when they are not.
People love when we show our arses and personify the negative stereotypes in existence. But let us surprise them by acting like “civilized” human beings and they don’t know what to do. They love it when we cuss each other out on the bus. They love it when we show up late for everything. They love to see us pull out our EBT cards at the store while wearing house shoes and durags. That’s what they want us to do. That’s when they feel most comfortable and satisfied. Why else would Lil Wayne get more play time than Mos Def?
In general, people like others to behave how they expect them to behave. The world wants Black people to fit the idea they have of us in their heads; the stereotypes that have been perpetuated for centuries. But most of us don’t. Contrary to the media, the stereotypical Black person is the minority in our community. For one, most of us actually do have manners. Y’all must have forgotten that since Black people set foot on American soil they were taught obedience. People just don’t want to talk about that though.
People would rather talk about the negative. People don’t ever want to recognize the true beauty of the Black community. We don’t see the media perpetuating stories about peaceful gatherings in the community. We don’t hear tales of young Black kids sitting orderly, attentively watching puppet shows in the park. You won’t see many articles that include positive quotes from Black men like what my cousin’s father said about yesterday’s celebration, “Every time I go to this event I realize the importance of this event in providing a catharsis, and ‘family reunion’ to the historic north/northeast Portland community.” They’d rather get a quote from the Antione Dodson’s of the world.
It becomes a problem when we defy the stereotypes. A lovely afternoon in the park is very problematic to the image they project of 40 oz malt liquor, loud raunchy music, and drive-bys. A well-spoken, educated Black man has the power to incite more fear than a loud and ignorant “thug.” So seeing what the problem is, seeing what our oppressors do and do not want from us, what are we going to do as a community? Are we going to try to live up to the negative image? Or are we going to keep causing problems? I vote for the latter.