There is no reason to have an unanswered question, especially today when all we need to do is Google it. When I was growing up questions like, “Why are White peoples’ lips so thin?” “Why are Black peoples’ hair so coarse?” definitely couldn’t be found in our Encyclopedia Brittanica! Nowadays though, we can Google it. And, though the answers may not be the truthful or may be a tad off-color, at least there’s some kind of answer, which would keep us refrained from bigoted questions.

Based on my experiences of growing up in West Virginia in the only Black household in the county (God Bless Wayne County!), I’ve quite a few tales to tell of subtle racism and overall ignorance from those kind people I dealt with on a daily basis and tormented mine and my sister’s life–and still do where I currently live. When I say “ignorance”, I tend to use that term in it’s truest form and use it to define someone who truly does not know any better due to lack of education or experience. Most often, I think people don’t understand the difference between culturally insensitive and racist.

Understandably so, there’s tons of questions that children ask their peers that could easily be deemed as racist uncomfortable. We tend to think nothing of it. After all, children are curious beings. And, there are certain questions that someone of color, primarily a Black American (no matter what age) would never ask. But when these questions filter into adulthood like day-old coffee, this is when the real problems begin to peak their ugly heads. As such, during my time living the first 18 years of my life in public school then a Predominately White Institution (PWI) for undergrad, I’ve been asked tons of questions by White people that I used to answer. And, with no hesitation, I roll my eyes I simply smile and think to myself, “you are ignorant” “God bless you”. I feel definite that it’s disrespectful to corner a friend and make him/her feel like an outsider based on race, class, or gender. The moment we do this is the moment we begin to objectify the person. But I digress.

Here’s my list of of phrases Black Americans (primarily I) get tired of hearing on a daily basis:

1. “I’m Blacker than you” or “Look! I’m almost as Black as You”.  No, you’re not and you never will be even if you lay out in the sun for weeks at a time, slathered in mazola oil, then sleep in a tanning bed. At most, you’ll end up looking like an old discarded leather shoe. I’m 99% sure that you won’t hear Black Americans say, “Look, I’m as white as you!” even if we are high-yellow light-skinned have a lighter complexion. And if you do hear that, it’s probably us making mockery of what has been done to us.

2. “What are you mixed with? You’re not that Black”. Being Black American means that we, by default are mixed. Being Black doesn’t mean we are African, straight from Africa, ever been to Africa, or want to go to Africa. Being a Black American means that we, by default, are a manmade race (being ancestors of the raped and enslaved by Whites and Native Americans). Being Black means we come in different shades, not all of us are dark as night. Common sense would tell you that Whites come in different shades, so why can’t Blacks?

3. “You are so lucky you don’t get sunburned”. Bitch please! Why would we not get sunburned? Everyone knows black clothing attracts the heat, so why wouldn’t my black skin attract the sun? We get sunburned and we get black(er). Importantly, we like going to the beach and getting darker, just like you. Darker skin does not mean we can not get darker or sunburned.

4. “You don’t sound Black when you talk. And you dress White”.  At what point does speaking standard English and enunciating words become a White-only task? It’s not like it’s a waterfountain at a segregated school. At what point did wearing a pair of chinos and loafers become a White-only outfit? Or even dressing in nice professional clothing? Simply because you live in your small bubble of stereotypes brought to you by what the media likes to portray, doesn’t mean that is how things truly are. And, actually, we probably dress and speak more standard than many White Americans because we know we have to be competitive in the workforce.

5. “Why are Black people so argumentative and angry and militant?”. This leaves me to ask why aren’t any Whites (in any country) ever called militant, angry, or argumentative. Have you ever thought the reason is because we are tired of being questioned about everything, have to justify every move we make, and treated as a second-class citizen all the time? Do not mistake our passion on a subject as being argumentative. Do not mistake our dislike of a system created to suppress us as angry about life. Do not mistake our bluntness with words as being rude, it’s simply not sugar coated. Do not mistake a dashiki, an afro, or even a license to carry a concealed weapon as militant–we just want to be free.

6. “Black people are racist too! What you said is reverse racism”. Yes, we could be, can be, and are. And like White people, not all Blacks are racists. So why bring up the obvious? More often, we are prejudiced against Whites more so than we are racist. We are distrusting.

As Sister Souljah stated,No black person or group of black people any place in the world
have the power to deny white people or Europeans access to anything
What can you CALL me? CALL me prejudiced!
Because I prejudge situations based on my own understanding of history

Regarding the term “Reverse Racism”–that’s an oxymoron and doesn’t even make sense.

7. “I wish I had hair like yours so I wouldn’t have to comb or wash it.” Do you really think Black people are THAT dirty we don’t wash our heads? And even if we have short, natural styles and cuts (or shaved heads), wouldn’t one think that even the scalp needs cleaned and washed? Need I also remind people that I’ve never met a Black person with lice?

8. “Why do you call yourself Black, when you are really Brown?”.  Well, dear friend, why do you call yourself WHITE? Are you really as white as snow, you ignorant-ass SOB? What it comes down to is everything else has been taken away from Black Americans throughout history. So, redefining it for us is a way of Columbusing our heritage and one of the few things we have left. And the fact that you are even questioning it is definitely culturally insensitive. Importantly, we’ve been called so many cruel names throughout history, why would you want to take this away from us? We are not yours to define.

9. “Why do Black People like chicken?” Because it’s good, and you know damn well you like it too! Actually there’s no real scientific study on WHY Black people like chicken. But understand that 1) chickens are easy to raise. Generations ago, most of us grew up on farms and had to raise our own food; and 2) chicken is the cheapest meat you can buy at the butcher. Knowing that, coupled with the fact that we have been spiritually financially damaged for generations, so we are always trying to have a reserve of cash someone. As such, we’ll purchase the cheapest meat so that we can make sure we can eat tomorrow. It has nothing to do with liking chicken. It’s about survival.

10. “I wish I were Black, then I would have gotten a full scholarship to college.” Yeah, and this is why I was the only Black American at my college (who wasn’t a sports player) that is stuck with student loans? The criteria for those NAACP (and I know this is what you are talking about) college scholarship awards are so strict that very few can actually qualify for them. And if you do qualify, you probably deserve that scholarship and more.


About Stephen Earley Jordan II

Author of "Beyond Bougie", "Cold, Black, and Hungry" and many other books. www.StephenEarleyJordan.com
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