Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Black In America

I want to talk about being Black in America real quick. No Soledad.

Before we begin, everybody needs to watch this video which will provide the jumping off point for today's discussion.

Now, I know some of you are shaking your heads already. "Big Man, it's Bill O'Reilly, what do you expect? If racism was underwear, Bill O'Reilly would be be Charlie Sheen." I get that, and that's why this isn't going to be a rant about Fox's favorite commentator.

Instead, I want to discuss his guest's reaction when O'Reilly said that this young, black college professor "looked like a drug dealer." (Bet y'all will click on the link now.)

Look at that brother's face after O'Reilly makes his comment about drug dealers. I told a friend, that watching face that brother's face, I could damn near read his mind:

Wait, what did he say? Did this...? Did this cracker just say I looked like a drug dealer. Cracker, I have more degrees than you and my suit costs more than yours! I should come across this table and... Whoa, hold up. Don't forget where you are, you can't do that. I will go to jail for that... But, I can't let this white boy punk me on tv. He thinks that drug dealer comment was clever. I gotta say something to him, but I can't go too hard 'cause then he'll play the white victim card and I'll never hear the end of it.

As y'all could see, the brother went on to make a quip about O'Reilly fitting the profile of a cocaine user, but you could see that wasn't how he really wanted to handle it.

Watching those mental gymnastics brought to mind DuBois often-cited comments on the double consciousness black folks in America typically possess. We have to be able to see the world from various vantage points and process situations in ways that white folks can avoid. It's part of the burden we bear for the privilege of living in America.

Many white folks and a few black folks don't like to acknowledge that burden, or they downplay the strain it causes. It's tedious and tiring having to filter your thoughts and comments. It gets old considering all the possible outcomes of your decision to make things "racial" particularly when you feel like somebody else has already made the situation "racial." Seriously, that brother should have been able to call O'Reilly an idiotic bigot with no repercussions, but in the real world a huge swath of the viewing public would have seen that response as unwarranted and out of line.

That's what it's like to be Black in America, and it's something that CNN never actually discussed.


Shanel said...

being black in America is hard-- to say the least--- censorship is a constant--- and in the business world-- that's a whole different story... the stereotypes are as prevalent now as they were 20-30 yrs ago... no matter how much successful blacks evolve and prove them wrong.

New Orleans Ladder said...

What's the problem here? That fellow seems like the Token Black Guy for Fox. You should watch his whole performance.
Do you really think O'Reilly would put on someone like, say, a raving black lunatic?
Please forgive my rudeness, but this is Fox: Fair and Balanced like a noose swinging in the wind.
Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

Imhotep said...

We're suppose to take any kind of racist insults from racist pigs, because everyone knows that white people don't have a racist bone in their body, and if we can't take a joke, then we're the racist.

To quote Malcolm "what do white people call a Black man with a PhD? a Nigga!” But no, they are not racist. No, they are not having fun at our expense, they are just good natured, and if we can’t share in their denigration of us, then we become the surly, ungrateful niggas.

Big Man said...

New Orleans Ladder
That guy is a regular on Fox as their black and liberal voice, but I wouldn't call him a token. I've seen him make good points on Fox and other places, and he doesnt' come across as one of those black people just looking for a pay check like most of the black folks on Fox. More than likely, he sees himself as a counterbalance to the ridiculousnes Fox spews. I don't expect Fox to be fair and balanced, and that's why I didn't concentrate on them in my post. It was more about the tightrope you walk as a black person in America and how quickly the wind can change.


You said it. It's like that piece I wrote a while back about changing people's opinions on you and how that in itself is often seen as an "aggressive act." We as black folks are often damned if we do and damned if we don't. You have to pick your poison.

TLS said...

All I can say is he came off looking a lot smarter than the O-man. Saying a black man looks like a drug dealer is a cheap shot that requires zero brains or imagination (something O excels at).

What was brilliant was the way Mr. Hill starts to offer tit-for-tat, implying a drug dealer is as likely white as black. But what I saw was a superior mind at work, saying, “No. Wait. I can do him one better. I’ll imply he’s a user!” And that’s an even more profound point: that the most lucrative, stable stream of drugs flows into white suburbs not inner cities, where all the law enforcement efforts are focused. Unlike in black communities (where the flow of drugs is interrupted by incarceration and death), white drug camps go mostly unmolested in this country. In my opinion, that’s a much better point to make than calling O out as a racist—something everybody already knows. (Though I have to wonder whether O’s audience is smart enough to follow what Mr. Hill did.)

And I have a bone to pick with you, RBL: it bothers me that you mention O by name, but not Mr. Hill (or Dr. Hill). You call him black college professor and brother, but do not mention his name. I know your style is casual, but I think the man deserves to be named.

Since I have no respect for O, I need not address him properly. Well, I probably should, he is a human being after all (he is, right?), but I just don’t feel like it today.

Big Man said...


Actually, I didn't know the cat's name and was too lazy to go look it up.

My bad. When you said "Mr. Hill" it jogged my memory that his name is Mark Lamont Hill, right?

Point taken, next time I'll take the time to do a simple google search when my memory fails me.

Anonymous said...

Although Big Man is a media professional, I will say as a journalist myself that it's kind of like being a chef. When a chef comes home, he or she doesn't usually want to cook, or will cook something simple or quick in many cases. As a journalist, when I write something on my blog, I don't always do the hard-core research into details I might otherwise. ;-)

- Deacon Blue

Prometheus 6 said...

For the record, the correct response was: "No, you must have used enough cocaine to damage your vision."

Raving Black Lunatic