“May I just ask one fundamental question? Why are you equating Venus winning in tennis to race? Sure, she is a very successful black, female tennis player, but why even bother stating her race? Surely, she is a fantastic player, be she Black, White, Hispanic or whatever, why does it matter! I’m a proud black male, and just hate the fact people like you seem to be pointing flaws in equality these days. People are people my friend, ignore the color of skin and treat as you would like to be treated. By you pointing out flaws in equality, calling all white men racists, surely, aren’t you as bad as them? Please, lay off the preaching, and don’t expect a reply, I doubt I will visit this website ever again.” – Adam, a blog visitor in Amsterdam
So goes the latest comment to my blog in response to my article titled Call Me Anything But Black. I know a lot of people insist on thinking Ms. Williams isn’t black. A lot of people are comfortable thinking that many of our black celebrities aren’t actually black but some kind of amalgamation of humanity that defies description. When someone reminds people of the obvious, that Ms. Williams as well as her sister are in fact black people, people get offended on her behalf. Why is it necessary to remind people that she is black? Well, maybe it’s because she just so happens to be black and people have a tendency to overlook it. Why is it such a problem for black Adam, and other people, to hear that Ms. Williams is who or what she is?
Being black is not a curse or something to be ashamed of. Pointing out that other people are black is not some kind of insult I need to apologize for. Whether or not people want to acknowledge her as a black woman doesn’t hide the fact that she is a black woman. It is who she is. As a black man, I would expect the same courtesy. I would want people to respect me and acknowledge me as a black man. For someone to come up to me and say something like “when I see you I don’t see a black man” is not a compliment. If you don’t see a black man when you look at me then what do you see, a white man? If people don’t notice the fact that I’m black means either that I’m not doing something right or that people who refuse to recognize that I’m black are doing something wrong.
Does it matter that I’m black? It shouldn’t. But it does to so many people. A lot of people will see me, a black man, and reflect back on the stereotypical training that they’ve received from the various media sources all of their lives. This overt and subtle programming says that black people with dreadlocks are more likely to be gang bangers than talented or educated people who can be an asset to most any company. Therefore, when I go to find a job, as a black man, I have to contend with racial stereotypes that prevent me from being hired.
In order to counter this constant and consistent bombardment of negative stereotypes associated with being black, it would benefit black people to point to and focus on our black athletes and celebrities as role models for our children and for other people in the black community as well. However, instead of black celebrities contributing to the enrichment of the black community, they work hard to distance themselves from their blackness in favor of embracing a more racially generic persona. It should be obvious that black celebrities such as Venus Williams are guilty of this behavior.
What is truly ironic is to watch one of the more celebrated tennis tournaments when one of the Williams sisters plays. The crowd for these tennis matches, which is always overwhelmingly predominantly white, will give the white opponents standing ovations for beating Venus or Serena. The hostility in these environments for the Williams is close to being so real it’s tangible. But Venus and Serena will ignore the obvious lack of compassion from the fans and just chalk it all up to nothing more than a part of the game of people choosing their favorite.
Is the fact that Ms. Williams would like to dump her affiliation with the black community a flaw in Ms. Williams’ character? I think so. I’ve already made this point in the other article. The fact that other black people come to my blog and are so pained to read my opinion about black celebrities being black is just more irony. Would I like it if somebody were to point to me and call me black and say I should do my best to affiliate myself with the black community? In all honesty I must confess that I wouldn’t like it. I would have to admit that I would love it, especially if I was going down a path that required somebody to set me, a black man who was trying to downplay my blackness, straight.
And as far as calling all white men racist I will beg to differ. Not all white people are racist. If I’ve led people to believe that I think that all white people are racist I’ll have to do better in the future. Everybody shares some form of prejudice. All of us have food preferences. All of us have people preferences. The problem comes when we allow our preferences to influence our choices to a point where diversity suffers. I have seen too many all white business environments or corporate environments where the black to white ratio is akin to a raisin in the sun to believe this happens by accident. Yes white people are racist. Does this mean all white people are racist? Not at all. I have worked with a number of white people who were willing to give me an opportunity.
Does this make me a racist? I will admit I have my own prejudices. But would I allow my prejudices to influence me to contribute to the subjugation of a race of people? I know for a fact it wouldn’t. If I ever get the chance to influence who gets hired and fired at a Fortune 500 company I seriously doubt if I’ll throw all the white applicant resumes in the trash or write memos of rejection referring to somebody as trailer park dude (see Ghetto Dudes Need Jobs Too to understand the reference).
And finally black Adam, you doubt that you will ever come back to my blog. I am really torn to hear that. And to think we just met when? Has it really been never? Shame.
On July 7th, using a white Wilson Factor limited edition tennis racket, Venus Williams won her fourth Wimbledon Title beating Marion Bartoli in two straight sets. Twenty third ranked Ms. Williams beat the second seed Maria Sharapova, the fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, and the sixth seed Ana Ivonavic, and a number of other players to win the title. A number of people had written Ms. Williams off as a has been, but the twenty seven year old from Lynwood, California made a lot of people chomp on their gloomy forecast of her career and her skills.
I was reading about Ms. Williams’ achievement in a story on the internet’s Yahoo! News. The story included a brief interview with Ms. Williams’ boyfriend, pro golfer Hank Kuehne, who was very supportive and proud of his woman. I can’t remember what he said exactly. But, once I read Ms. Williams had a boyfriend, I suddenly had the urge to look up who this guy was. That’s not quite true and I should confess that I suddenly had the urge to look the man up to see what race he was. I had suspected that the man was white. I don’t follow golf but if there was a black golfer, especially one dating Venus Williams, I would like to think that I would have heard about him by now. But my suspicions were confirmed when I found his picture.
A number of high profile young black celebrities do little to hide and a lot to promote their preference for an interracial relationship. This phenomenon should be no surprise considering how many black celebrities do their best to distance themselves from the blackness. These days, to call someone with an obvious elevated melatonin count as black could result in a civil suit for slander or libel for defamation of character.
Ask an obviously black celebrity a question like, what kind of impact do you feel your example makes on the black community? A typical response may go something like, Well my mother was only ninety two percent black. My mother’s grandmother’s father was half white so that makes me three percent Caucasian. I’d like to ignore the fact that his other half was Mexican. My father was black but he was adopted by a Japanese woman and an Irish man when his mother, their maid, passed. So technically, by association, the fourteen years he spent in their household was good for a six percent association a piece so if you divide their input by two and correlate the remainder against the obvious, but yet to be proven, black majority of heritage and you’ll see I have a great deal of marketability to a number of different races. If those black children see me as a role model I really must say that I don’t want to be considered a, quote unquote, “black” (raise hands to make sure you visually add quotations to the speech) celebrity. Also, I must add that my mother was propositioned by a man from the Philippines once who looked like he was from Tibet. So to summarize, I think I have appeal to virtually every race on the planet. I like to think of my self as a Causianblajapirishtibetian.
Some people look at black celebrities who are able to shed the stigma of being obviously black and commend them for their success at adopting a more generic persona that has appeal for people of all races, not just, quote unquote, “black” people. However, this is more of the subtle negative programming that goes into being a black person in America. Black people have been programmed to believe in order to be truly successful one must reject the black neighborhood, the black community, the black history, the black condition, and now the blackness we see in the mirror. I understand how people may want to do whatever they can to keep their marketability as high as possible to earn as much as financially possible. But a number of black people have been able to do very well for themselves and keep their overall public appeal without doing anything to reject or minimize their African ancestry. History is chock full of black actors, singers, athletes, business people, and others who managed to keep their obvious racial integrity intact without succumbing to the need to deny who they are and where they come from. And very few white celebrities come out and say things like, Well my daddy’s mother’s father was one third black so technically I have appeal to everybody. White celebrities automatically have their mass appeal without doing their genealogy speech.
And whether or not these obviously black celebrities realize it or not they are teaching impressionable people and children in the black community to dump that African baggage at their earliest opportunity. A lot of people watch and learn from their example on how to deny their ancestry. And a lot of black people who suffer from the condition of not liking or appreciating their blackness are more than happy to follow their playbook and assimilate into the generic American culture while rejecting their African culture. They may choose only to date other races or they may choose to minimize or even deny their heritage. Some may go so far as to call themselves mutts or a Cablinasian. More than likely they would welcome the chance to be an Anythingbutblackian.