When taken as a whole, I’m not sure how I feel about the segments African-American Women: Where They Stand. On the one hand, it’s a minor miracle that it happened at all. On the other hand, they didn’t say anything that I didn’t already know – so maybe they weren’t talking to me.
so who was their audience, exactly? Were they letting white America in on something? When you don’t know any black people and all you get is what you see on television or at the movies, -- what pop culture programs into you or some republican feeds you (Willie Horton, anyone?) -- what are you supposed to think?
well. the title told me that this was about them (where "they" stand) not us (where "we" stand) so i wasn't too sure how many black women were responsible for putting this whole thing together, anyway. (thanks, faboo.) and that just didn' t make any sense -- having special segments about black women and not letting black women tell it, in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes. as i watched and listened, i kept wondering what the segments would have been like if black women had complete control over the entire project, from start to finish. perhaps we would have heard from some of us who are somewhat left of center, like ms. angela y. davis. but i suppose that's my edit.
White people are way too surprised to meet me (“you’re soooooo articulate!”) for me to believe that there’s any real fundamental progress between the races in that basic “why can’t we all just get along?” way. There are very real reasons why we can’t get along and no one in the media seems to be particularly interested in exploring them. Jena 6 was no surprise to me. Even Europeans are adopting this "they-all-live-in-the-ghetto-and-they're-diseased-oversexed-violent-animals-that-play-
basketball-and-spew-rap-lyrics-at-will" attitude towards African Americans. And why shouldn’t they? They’re watching the same crappy tv shows, the same sexist “BET Uncut” rump shaker videos, the same hip-hop “artists,” the same black 21st century coon show movies (like Booty Call), too – with everyone throwing around the “n” word. I will never, ever forget the shock and horror i felt when i crash-landed in my German hotel room the day before a gig, flipped on the TV to see if anything was on, and caught that ultra 70s sit-com “Good Times” – with all the inflections, all of the strutting, all of it – in German, with “black sounding” voiceovers. sometimes, i could see the people i met looking at me sideways, mentally going through their internal rolodex of "what is black" (much like The Terminator looking for an option in his database) to see how i measured up. (ps: i never did.) oh, yeah. The Europeans have definitely been indoctrinated.
if they refuse to include us, i think the answer is to go underground. delve into the black blogosphere. watch our news programs. check in on what our pop stars are up to on our own gossip rags. if i want to know what's going on in the world, i don't watch nbc/cbs/abc nightly news because they aren't fair or balanced. none of them are, really. i check in with the bbc online -- because at least they're somewhat global. and the new york times online, too. and then i watch the daily show and the corbert report, respectively. that's about all the news i can stand -- and it's more than what most people get in this country.
as black folks, underground is where we live, anyway. We are a part of the subculture that feeds the culture, gives it dimension and substance and flow. we are the perpetual alternative.
here's the real remedy: we should strive to be our own unique authentic selves at all times. i know that seems insignificant but when i do this, i am forcing the person in question -- whatever their race or culture -- to see me as an individual. and that feels right, somehow. especially when it doesn't work -- probably because it's an easy way to separate the sheep from the goats.
there are those who meet me and who see me as an individual and things move along swimmingly from there. but then there are the others. others who, once they realize that i'm not like any black girl that's in their Terminator database, well, that's when the fear sets in. fear of the unknown. i become x, an unknown factor. this makes me dangerous. they don't know what i'll say or do. and that makes me a threat. evidently, i can be a threat to absolutely anyone. i am an intelligent black woman. i have that power.
throw in some nappy hair, clothing that would hardly be considered conventional and a facial expression of complete indifference, and voila! you get the ultimate threatdown -- a 21st century uppity negress.
where's my tv special?