The Loudmouth Protestant

May 27, 2008

Yes, We Can

While waiting for the train last night I encountered what I thought was an endangered species.

I was chatting with my friends and had my shopping bag resting on one of the seats of the bench in the waiting area when an older black man came up with a daughter in tow. Since my bag was occupying the seat that was next to him I removed it so that his daughter could sit down. No sooner than I placed the bag on the floor, the man asked my friend where she was from and then he asked me where I was from. After I told him he started to ramble on about people and where they are from and how he can tell when someone is not from New York. In the midst of all of his babbling my friends and I were silent. We stared at each other because we were truly baffled.

The man continued his foolish talk as he looked at me and tried to pry to find out where I was really from. He asked me if there was a problem because I moved my bag–unbeknownst to him, I moved the bag so his daughter could sit down but he was too dense to realize that.

Finally I was saved by the bell when the alert for the train’s arrival went off. But as I walked away from this man–did I mention that he had approximately four teeth in his mouth he said “Why don’t you stop trying to act white and act black?” I didn’t respond to his question. I didn’t even pause to look back at him and shake my head. I just kept walking forward in disbelief that people who think like that still exist.

You see, when I was in high school many of the students used to call me a “sell-out” because they thought that I was patterning my life after that of white people. I was white because of the way I spoke, my extracurricular activities, the people who I associated with, where I lived, etc. I endured great taunting from these so-called bullies who were relentless up until the day before I graduated from high school. Then I didn’t know how to express my discontent to a group of people who probably wouldn’t get it anyways.

Fast forward to my incident with the crazy toothless man last night and I finally have come up with the words to describe my discontent with any black person who insists on harassing another black person who speaks or acts differently than they do.

How is it that in this day and age, there are people foolish enough to believe that every black person should be speaking Ebonics, walking around with their pants hanging off of their arses, the black women should be single mothers, we should all live in the projects and always below our means at all times? How do you believe this is going to help us overcome, my toothless brother? I am not even going to make the excuse that he was probably crazy because I have encountered many a sane person who seems to share his sentiments. I find it appalling that there are people who think if you speak proper English you must be acting white. Really? Free your mind and recognize the self-hate that you are propagating. As a black woman in a country where some would like to believe we are destined to always be second best, I am of the mind that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, which means I will not be bound by the standards of man.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made which means that in all I do, I am to reflect the glory of God and never pander to who people think I should be because God already created me in His image. And this is not to say that people who speak Ebonics or who have more of an urban sound to their voice are not reflecting His glory. I respect the differences of black people and I think it is beautiful to acknowledge those differences that make us who we are. The difference between listening to an East Coast black person versus a Southern black person versus a West Coast black, it is all beautiful and has its place. But what we must acknowledge is that those things don’t necessarily define us or our state of mind.

It’s time for some black people to recognize that the status quo just won’t get it anymore. I heard a preacher say it best a few weeks ago, “Slavery is the weed that we grew out of.” It’s time to let the concept of being white and being black go because if you really thought about what you were saying Mr. Toothless Man, some of the people I went to high school with, random strangers and anyone who has spent any amount of time decrying their own brother or sister as a sell-out, you’d realize that what you were really saying is we don’t deserve to do better with our lives. The devil is a liar and a loser, don’t let him keep you bound.


1 Comment »

  1. I stumbled across this post while looking for something entirely different (which seems to be how I find all the best stuff on the Internet). I just wanted to tell you that I’m impressed with what you said, and the world would be a much better place if more people could think as clearly, independently and kindly as you. Have a great day, and thanks for sharing your ideas…

    Comment by Heidi Delgros — May 31, 2008 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

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