Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Get That Bass Out Your Voice

I don't talk like a white boy.

That may be costing me money, according to this article.

You know, I can't say I'm surprised by this news. It was only a few years ago that word got out that black folks were getting shafted when it came to job interviews because of our "ethnic" names.

A Harvard study, if I'm not mistaken, found that Keisha and Tyrone were 50 percent less likely to get a call back for a job than Becky and Channing. This was true even if their resumes were exactly the same. So, I can't say that it's exactly shocking that "sounding black" hurts your employment chances as well.

But, it's still depressing.

Sometimes I get tired of being black. It doesn't mean I want to be anything else; I love being a brother. But, I do get tired of dealing with everything that comes along with having this skin color and a basic understand of the way the world works.

Y'all know what I'm talking about. We have to be the racial interpreter, we have to take a stand when bigotry raises its head, we have to represent the entire race, we just have to do too damn much. As soon as you think you've gotten past one obstacle, another one drops into your path.


I read this old article on Time's website that was entitled "The Meaning of White" the other day. Here it is if any of you all are interested. The article explores white identity issues and how differently white people view discrimination from black people.

One of the things that jumped out at me was that many white people see being black as a disadvantage, but don't see being white as an advantage. That seems like a serious logic disconnect, but the survey found that it was fairly common among white people. They also trusted the judicial system more than black people.

Reading both of those articles only made me more disgusted at the state of the world. This new issue about "sounding black" is just more proof that black people are getting screwed while white people are getting extra help. Yet, it still won't be enough to convince most white folks that they achieved their present success through anything their hard work and determination. It's almost as if there is no proof that will ever change people's minds about the benefits of being white.


That point was driven home as I got towards the end of the article on "sounding black." The author decided to provide some solutions for dealing with discrimination that he apparently has given minorities. Basically, he suggested rapid and wholesale assimilation into white culture. That's it.

You know, it takes a special type of arrogance to write a column pointing out a possible injustice and instead of calling on people to leave behind their prejudices, you advocate that the victims stop making themselves such tempting targets.

The solution to discrimination is not asking minorities to make themselves more palatable to white people. We've been trying that for centuries and it just doesn't work. Black people should know by now that no matter how you dress, speak or walk, you will never shed your skin. You may get along as an acceptable Negro for a while, but eventually you will cross some imaginary line and be deported from Whiteville back to Niggertown.

It's going to happen.

The solution is aggressively attacking discrimination, racism and injustice. The solution is making a big freaking deal when news like this comes out because this sort of news only validates the claims that minorities have made for years without empirical evidence. We have to stop brushing off proof of racism and discrimination as "no big deal" before moving on to the next issue. And by we, I don't just mean white folks, I mean everybody because all of us ignore some form of injustice because it just doesn't matter to us.

That's wiggity-wiggity wack.



WNG said...

Your whole post was on point, Big Man but this ish was the TRUTH: Sometimes I get tired of being black. It's a damn full time job.
A lot of my work is done on the phone and I have been told by many clients when they first walk into my office that they thought I was white, "You are not at all like I pictured you", is the usual way it goes down.
They never seem to realize that it says so much more about them than about me.

Big Man said...


I've gotten that before. My brother jokes that we all have our "white voice" that we use on the phone at work in order to avoid problems. Sadly, he's probably right.

It does get tiring having to deal with all the added stress that goes along with being black. It's probably one of the reason black people have a higher incidence of all these stress-related diseases. And, since studies show we get worse healthcare than white folks, it's no surprise we're dying younger, even if you ignore the homicide problem with our youth.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I have to agree it is completely frustrating and mind boggling how with so much empirical evidence of white privilege that many whites still do not see their privilege. They always want to point to the exceptions to that privilege, when really… come on now. It is crazy… how so many can dismiss it.

It’s one of the reasons I fundamentally have issues with giving homeless white males money, I know that is sad. However I feel if the bum on the street cleaned himself up and went for an interview he’d probably get the job over some brother with a college degree. Just saying.

I think you are right we have to really start using the evidence to our advantage. When we have discussions with whites, friend or foe, and ask them how they explain that away. Or when they talk about blacks taking all the scholarships, we should point out just how many legacies are allowed in universities across the land and how since blacks especially in the South have only been attending these institutions for a limited amount of years they have little to NO legacy enrollment. I’ve used that argument a time or two to shut folks up.

You have never been SO RIGHT as to state how being black is definitely a chore at times. I wouldn’t trade it, but I often sometimes wonder what it is like to live a life with out so many internal issues and struggles going on in your life. Just to get up and go or live life with people having problems with who you are as a person and not who they think you are because of your race. Wow! I joked with a friend about how black people aren’t adventure chasers as a whole because living your life as a black person is plenty a thrill enough. Who needs to be thrilled to death by jumping out of a plane when your ride down Main Street USA could be just as thrilling, if the right cop pulls you over for driving while black?

Anyway thanks for sharing, glad to be back, now I have to catch up on what you’ve been talking about while I’ve been on blogcation. Hope your holiday was nice.


WNG said...

You made me post on this Big Man. Well not so much you as the idiot who wrote the article. Talk about stress...I have to keep reminding myself that blood pressure meds ain't cheap!!!

Big Man said...

I felt the same way at the article!

I was reading along, enjoying the new information, when BLAM!, I get hit with some random racial ridiculousness in the form of telling all minorities to just assimilate more if they have problems in life.

I couldn't believe that got past an editor. I don't care if it's a personal anecdote, it's sending the wrong message to people.

Deacon Blue said...

Even my sorry ass, which has had the hardest time taking FULL advantage of my white privilege to further my personal/family economic development realizes that I still HAVE privilege. Mind-boggling that most of my pale brethren can't connect the dots there.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

now that was funny. LOL great post folk

WNG said...

Not that you care, but I'm not too sure about that pic...

Big Man said...


I do care. I'll probably go back to the Barack one or something else that catches my fancy in a little bit.

I wish I really knew how to use all those photo altering programs so I could make something really good.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. However reading stuff like the article on speech reminds me of why things really have not changed as much as people would like to beleive when it comes to race relations in this country.

I swear at times I get so depressed living in this country, for years I have been joking that I want a white suit. So that some days I could slip into my white persona and see what life must be like when you don't have to worry about every little detail.. did the deli clerk ignore me because he is a jerk or because I am Black.

OG, my Pops used to always say a white man can clean himself up, put on a 3 peice suit and get any job. So I hear you as far as not giving white homeless males money. Heck, at my last job there were white men with no college degrees making more than me with an advanced degree, you can't tell me white privilge is not real. Even for a bottom-feeder white person, there is privilege.

Gye Greene said...


Thx for the link; I've saved the article for next time I teach a Race/Ethnicity course, and forwarded to some R&E friends.

For what it's worth (a copy-n-paste from a comment I left at G's blog): if you follow the links to the actual report -- and scroll down to the table at the end (and if you know how to read regression tables!!!), you'll find that the penalty for "sounding black" is EXACTLY the bonus for being male. So, according to these results -- an AfrAm female who "sounds white" will earn (on average) the same as an AfrAm male who "sounds black".

Put differently: sexism has the same magnitude of impact as racism. And, I guess, an AfrAm female who sounds black is doubly-disadvantaged.


B said...

Are you trying to tell me that you don't think anything of it when you see a dude walking down the street with a face full of piercings or tons of tattoos? I know this is a CHOICE, none the less. It's very basic human nature. It isn't always covert, it isn't always evil, it isn't always hateful or spiteful. People want to be around people like them. If I had a company, I'd want to hire people I could relate with. I grew up on welfare, I lived in neighborhoods where we were the only white family, OBVIOUSLY black people have more hurdles in life. Even after my upbringing, I still can't really relate with black people, just as much as I can't relate with deer hunting hilljacks. So I gotta be honest, I'd probably hire a white person over a black person even if they had the same exact qualifications and work ethics. This is assuming that I'd have more in common with the white person. I completely acknowledge, that this IS racist. I'm making presumptions about a person based on their ethnicity.

Here's the thing though, you can look at a person, and find out things about them, based on what they're wearing. Sports hats, band shirts, expensive jewelry, whatever. The same thing applies with skin color, if the person has a tan, if they're built like an athlete, whatever. I guess what I'm getting at is this, it IS racist to assume that I'd have more in common with a white person than with a black person, but at the same time my assumption is more than likely correct.

Now black people have been screwed forever in this country and just recently has the playing field become even slightly leveled. There are way more rich white people, there are way more white people calling the shots, there are just way more white people period. The only way it'll ever be fair is if there's an equal amount of black people. And then it'd still be unfair, until there's an equal amount of RICH black people. Unless for some reason black people would be racist to other black people. People are never going to change. I'm pretty sure racism is a survival trait, as shitty as it sounds. I don't hate black people, I don't think white people are better in any way at all. But I do make assumptions about people based on the way they look, just like the man with a blog talking about white people as a whole.

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