We’re all connected. You can’t litter in Johannesburg, South Africa and think the Mississippi River won’t feel it. You can’t be a socialist country in Asia and think it does not affect democracies in every other continent. The same holds true for black people. You can’t act a fool somewhere far away from me and think I’m not living with the consequences of your choices where I am. On the other hand, I’m happy to report all the black men and women sitting in board rooms (or in churches, schools, community centers, oceans, and trees……who’s sitting in the ocean though?) across the world who make valuable contributions in their field of work or in their communities also affect me where I am. See how your blackness rubs off on me? I’m pretty sure there’s a better term for this phenomenon. It’s something in the family of stereotypes, but I just like to say that your blackness is rubbing off because it’s funnier. Like, ummmmm excuse me I think you just dropped a little of your blackness on my foot. Pick that up real quick.
Now I have to decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, I feel like I have to be friendlier, smarter, more successful, healthier, more eloquent, and all around more mainstream (more in line with the larger culture) to make up for any negative ideas that people conjure up in their heads about me before I even walk in the room. If too many black women are half naked in music videos (not because there are actually a high number of half clothed black women in music videos but because that’s what we’re fed more often than some other, more sexually neutral images), I feel like I should probably be fully clothed when I go to Walmart in an effort to counteract the hypersexual images of black women. I often go to Walmart church-beauty-pageant ready just because there are a few black women who go with rollers in their hair wearing Sponge Bob pajamas bottoms. (I want to take a razor and slice those pajama bottoms when I see them. The rollers I understand to an extent. The pajamas? It’s a mystery to me). I want to show other Walmart customers a different image.
On the other hand, I like to be ratchet every now and then and hate to think I’m responsible for perpetuating negative stereotypes about my race. Can I not just walk into Walmart with booty shorts and a sheer top without worrying about the image of black women everywhere? Geez, I’m 28 years old. These thighs may never look this good again in life. I live in the south. It’s nice to have a breeze run through a shirt that doesn’t have much material.
And on yet another hand (not sure how I ended up with three hands here), it would be great if everyone could do and be whatever they wanted without it rubbing off on anyone. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t accept the vilification of black people. I don’t. I also don’t accept that I have to be concerned about anyone’s blackness falling on my foot because I am not any other person but myself. When I come in contact with a young black guy with saggy pants making crude jokes but reading on a 3rd grade level, I want to reject that he has any implications on my blackness.
It doesn’t work like that though. His blackness rubs off on me for sure.
I don’t have a solution for this. Did you think I did? I’m sorry. I just wanted to bring it to your attention just in case you care. Pick your blackness up off my foot.