Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why Are You People So Angry?

Y'all noticed that the subtitle of my blog labels me as part of a long tradition of angry black men in America.

Truthfully, in real life I'm a fairly jovial fellow, particularly around people I know and trust. My friends will tell you I am often irreverent and sarcastic, but rarely cruel. While I am full of opinions and love a great debate, I also can listen to people when they need an open ear and a closed mouth.

But those are people who know me.

Strangers typically find me to be quiet and stuck-up. In my travels through cyberspace I've been labeled an angry, race-baiter for some of my stances. I used to relish the confrontations my viewpoints would inspire, but now I try to avoid those arguments because I'm not that interested in conversing with certain folks.

A common comment I've seen from a lot of white folks and folks who identify with white folks, is that they are annoyed and disturbed by the anger and bitterness black folks often display. As Rev. Wright has shown the world, black folks can get a little excited when they are recounting the evils done in this country throughout the years. Unfortunately, not only does that subject matter displease a lot of folks, but the "tone" doesn't sit too well either.

My brother and I were discussing the way black anger is received in this country the other night, and we agreed on a simple explanation. Mainstream America really doesn't think black folks have earned the right to complain.

I'm sure most of you have seen this manifested in your lives, and Pat Buchanan wrote a wonderful letter recently for those of you who didn't get the earlier memos. The lack of respect for the complaints of black people is easily visible in the way they are handled.

Black people's complaints about systemic racism are counteracted by anecdotes about personal discrimination. Black people's complaints about individual injustice are minimized by statistics about the overall advancement of the black race. It's a racial Catch-22, that has existed for centuries.

Eventually, if they are lucky, black folks who complain enough are told about the drain their race places on this country through its dependence on welfare and its overrepresentation in the prison system. Basically, we get asked "What are you all bringing to the table?"

I'm not going to bother with giving a historical breakdown of what black folks have brought to America's table because I assume that most of y'all are pretty familiar with the litany. But, it really piqued my interest that so many white people could think black people were a race of moochers.

Seriously, I know that the media, Hollywood and racists have pushed the stereotype of black people as lazy, roustabouts, but I just can't believe that people are willing to ingest those lies when contradictory information is right in front of their faces. I know that most neighborhoods in the country are still pretty segregated, but you would think that white folks have seen enough black people working somewhere to figure out that we aren't allergic to labor.

Combine that with the fact that many, MANY people still living in America witnessed black folks diligently struggle at the most menial tasks because discrimination barred them from better jobs, and you just have to wonder, WTF?

Given this country's history and its present condition, you would think that if any group had earned the right to complain based on hard work, it would be black folks. Shoot, I think our ancestors paid enough tolls for all of us, but even if they didn't, black folks are still earning their keep today.

Yet, it seems that mainstream America was never alerted to this reality. Instead, scores of Americans think black people always want something handed to them. It's such a popular lie, that you'll even hear black folks themselves repeating it.

What magical tasks do black people have to complete to become white? Are they like the challenges of Hercules? Any of y'all know where I can find the list?

I need to get cracking on earning my Justified Anger card.


Anonymous said...

The white power structure and the white people that both benefit and oppressed by it all fear retribution. That's it, boiled down to its essence. Period. Fear of retribution for that flaw that this nation was founded upon.

My 11 year old child went on her class trip to Philadelphia this week and related how she and her classmates got into a "discussion" about how the the founding fathers were hypocrites. She pointed out the simple truth of how writing "all men are created equal" was the flaw that they wove into our founding because if they believed that then they either didn't believe that slaves were men ("and that just can't be true")or that they knew they were men and still didn't believe they were equal but wrote that anyway.

She was very calm when she related it to me and she said how some of her friends disagreed but couldn't argue with facts and so "they were wrong".

Now she is an exceptionally bright child, yes, but she is a child and if she can see it so clear then ... well, you know.

It's fear of retribution and all the noise and chatter and hate and all of it since that beginning is to ward off the fear.

It is a schism in our national identity and one that I sometimes feel that may never heal. It causes me actual sadness because I do know that my and my childrens' futures are the poorer for the schism.

Anonymous said...

12 Herculean labors of black folks that will finally get white people off your ass...

1. Find cure for cancer

2. Find cure for common cold

3. Find fat subsitute that has zero cholesterol and provides full vitamin and mineral needs for the day

4. Figure out how to keep Mexicans from crossing the border illegally while also ensuring that businesses have ample sub-minimum wage labor pool to get dishes washed and shit

5. Make Native Americans' problems go away without actually granting them any kind of true enfranshisment

6. Take away nuclear weapons from all of our non-allies; reduce nuclear stockpile for allies to one missile per country

7. Stop reminding them that the country was founded on conquest, murder, slavery and abuse

8. Figure out how to prevent kids from accesing Internet porn

9. Find the killer of Jon Benet Ramsey

10. Get O.J. Simpson sentenced to prison for multiple concurrent life sentences.

11. Get us out of Iraq with our dignity intact and no mre loss of American lives

12. Find Osama bin Laden

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, Deacon. That is some funny stuff.

Thank you for putting it in my head.

"Today, it was discovered through the diligent efforts of AA detectives from the NAACP that OJ was innocent of killing Nicole due to being busy. Killing Jon Benet. We will send him over on multiple suicide missions to Iraq and once he finds Osama bin Laden he will be allowed to retire in peace on the Choctaw Nation where they have built a new superlab for discovering the cure for the common cold and cancer."

Imhotep said...

Deacon Blue, a Black person could do all those thing you have mentioned, and white america would dismiss it as not typical of black people. They would look to separate the individual from the group, and say he/she is not like the rest of them. All in an effort to maintain their racial group superiority.

Fact is Black people have been instrumental in everything from monotheism to harnessing electricity, yet we get zero recognizaton.

That lack of recognization by itself does ot bother me, I don't need their validation. What bothers me is their need to demonize me and those that look like me. And their need to rely on myth as if it is fact.

There are good white folks out there, and there are those that are ernestly trying inspite of all the shit they were indoctrinated with, but the vast majority of white folks need the comfort of their ignorance to guide their racial attitudes.

Kristin said...

Preaching to the choir. Good post

Anonymous said...

Oh, Imhotep, I agree with ya...but Big Man DID ask for the offical list of challenges to meet for official recognition. I'm not saying white America would actually keep its end of the bargain.

I had to sneak past pretty tight security to retrieve that list from the Pale Archives of the Alabaster Fortress, too, by the way, as my white security level was downgraded drastically 12 years ago when I started dating my wife, and downgraded even further when I married her a decade ago.

Anonymous said...
First off, if that were my child I would be rewarding her and so proud of myself for raising such a strong and determined young lady. Oooooooh, that is hard to stand up to an angry adult and she did it to the nth.

Second, have you seen this yet??

Mitraillette said...

first off, awesome blog, and nice to meet you :-)

i've been studying racial issues for years, and it always amazes me how this topic goes in circles (yet i can't help but continue to participate in it). i think if we ever solve human bigotry we may well see the next step in the evolution of our race - that being the human one. i believe bias (the half-assed sorting our brains do) is so chemically human we're fighting an uphill battle, but nevertheless, we need to keep getting bloody until we figure it out.

Truthiz said...

Kudos on another good one Big Man!

@Lolo: Well said on your inital post!

@Imhoptep: On point_On point_On point!

@Deacon Blue: sale_but that was funny!

GirlGriot said...

Of course, if white society every acknowledged that we had earned a right to our anger, they'd have to give some serious attention to the whole reparations issue. They fell for that one already, and there are a lot more of us around who'd be expecting a pay out, so acknowledgment is off the table!

I love Deacon Blue's list ... but why, exactly, do we want to become white?

Anonymous said...

@ Girlgriot

I suspect Big Man's comment about becoming white at the end of his post wasn't literal. I think he meant what is necessary for blacks to be respected by white folks as much as they respect whites. At least that's what I assumed, which is why my list talks more about getting whites off blacks' cases.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the great comments everybody. I'm really happy that people are having such good conversations, that's the best thing about blogs.

Lolo, I'll check out those links.

Finally, I don't know if any of y'all caught Obama's interview with Tim Russert this weekend but is showed both the good and bad of journalism. I'm going to touch on some of the bad, and what that says about this country tomorrow. But, I did learn a lot about some of Obama's other policy plans, and I like how he was very defintive in his answers to many questions instead of giving political answers. He only did that a few times.

One Drop said...

Well, this is the problem that white folks have with acknowledging black anger: if black anger is real, and legitimate, then white people really have done some terrible things as a group. And white people can't have done terrible things as a group, because white people are good, and good people don't do terrible things. Therefore black anger must not be legitimate.

The core problem is that some people cannot seem to get to the point where they see the white community as flawed but still retaining admirable qualities. It goes back to the need to see people and groups as either good or evil, rather than a mixture of both.

Anonymous said...

great topic.

Gye Greene said...

From my minor in Psych:

Confirmation bias: People tend to notice things that confirms their worldview, or opinions they already hold; and not pick up on [or, explain away, as a one-off] the things that contradict it.

OTOH: I'm not sure you'd **want** to be white. Having more pigment just makes a lot more sense (unless you're going seal-hunting, I s'pose).


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