A note from me about this submission: I wish this reader all the strength in the world to withstand the traumas of white privilege and also remind him or her that love of tacos does not a Latino make.
One day, I woke up and looked down and was like, “DAMN. I’M WHITE!!” This was really disheartening because I love tacos so much that I thought I was a full-blooded Latino. It’s just so sad, because it is just SO difficult living with white privilege, you know, with the higher salary, absence of housing discrimination, and the ability to walk down the street without every suburban housewife reaching for their mace. I have learned to live with my whiteness, but one day, I hope that people will except those of all colors, including the whites.
User Submitted: Black History Month: Separate but Equal
A note from me about this submission: Frustration over Black History having a month isn’t new but I like this personal story of past teachers. For the record, Black History Month began as Negro History Week and was proposed by Carter G. Woodson. The expansion to a month was the work of black students at Kent State University in the late 1960s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_History_Month#Negro_History_Week_.281926.29
Black History month pisses me off. Why isn’t it just part of “history”? When I was a kid, I learned about Frederick Douglass and George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman right alongside Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and Amelia Earhart etc. Of course, my 6th grade teachers history teacher was black, so that might’ve motivated her to include them in our history lessons in our mostly white town. And I leaned about Jackie Robinson from Mr. Morrison our math and science teacher, who might have played pro baseball, except he was older than Jackie Robinson, and was simply not allowed. He made a better living teaching white children decimals than he could in the negro leagues. But man he was still great to watch him play baseball, he was just awe inspiring. Of course it’s great to insist on including “black history” in school curriculum but really, “separate but equal”? NOT. What, is the rest of the year white anglo saxon straight male history?? Am I an idiot or what, for not realizing that that goes without saying?
User Submitted: Post Racism is Great! Good Thing I'm Not Getting Tenure
Post racism is a great time to be alive. As a black assistant professor who just published her first book with a top tier press, I think it’s about time I be denied tenure. Ironically, my book is largely about racism within occupations and academia and it’s black history month, so it makes perfect sense that some of my colleagues allowed a man who hates women and minorities to chair my tenure committee and guide me right out the door. No matter, as we speak they are busy tring to find another person of color to fill the highly sought after position of Successful Minority to Underappreciate. After all, the official building capacity does not permit any brown people that are actually more accomplished than many of their white colleagues.
User Submitted: Why can't kinky-headed women of all races unite?
Here’s my rant: You think hair bias is ‘racial’? HA! Why do black gals think that “good hair” is just a black thing, when we are ALL judged by the culture on a Womanly Worthiness Scale with Swedish stewardess blonde-silky-curtains at the top and frizzy kinks at the bottom? —and why can’t our black sisters get over it and be brave and welcoming role models for black AND white girls with kinks? When I was in high school and Afros got big (literally), I let my own dirty-blonde fuzz go free. (It wasn’t even a Jew-fro, I’m an Irish-German Catholic with lucky hair genes.) No more torture sessions with irons, hair dryers, sleeping on beer can-sized curlers. I carried an Afro pick and joyously terrified little old white ladies in public bathrooms by using it. But the moment seems to have passed, and now we have a whole body of documentaries and stuff by black women, 30 years later, still trying to figure out why sistahs can’t love the hair God gave them. Hello? You think YOU’re challenged to embrace the kinks? At least YOU have those cool ’70s icons to harken back to—Angela Davis, blah blah—not to mention awesome salons in happening black neighborhoods where I fantasize about how gorgeous black women bond over hours-long sessions with mystical African braiding wizards. Us kinky white girls get nothing but Failed Swedish Stewardess Syndrome. We sneak into Duane Reade and buy Miss Jessie’s Curl Creme (it works great on us, too), and fantasize about having the guts to get locks or cornrows. We treasure our few curly Caucasian role models (Alex Kingston, I’m talking to you, beautiful!) We hate black women who wear straight blonde hair—traitors to a cause that won’t even acknowledge our membership. And you know what really makes us crazy? Black women (like one published author) who think it’s “racist” when white girls toss their long, straight hair around in bars or elevators. We have been HATING those same white girls all our lives, starting in kindergarten parties in our whitey-white neighborhoods. But unlike you, we cannot unleash our Cultural Stereotype of Coolness in our own defense; we’re just the Frizzy-Haired White Girls, the sisters you won’t own. HAIR, ladies—it’s NOT just a black thing!
Before buying the book, I think I should first try and figure out “Am I not black or am I black and just not doing it properly?” How would I know? There really should be a test — and not one of those damn standardized culturally biased Princeton elitists type tests either. (I put the gris-gris on them long ago after they told me I should give up the sciences and go into a field like social work!)
I think race is like beauty — it’s only skin deep, so don’t hand me any of that “look in the mirror” crap either. When I look in the mirror left and right are backwards, so how do I know the colors aren’t backwards too? Besides, there’s no black or white in the rainbow so I have my doubts about the whole so-called “EM spectrum” those guys in the *white* lab coats are always talking about. (Whose pocket do you think THEY are in?)
But when black people meet how do we determine who is blacker (or, not to be racist, which one is least white)? The usual method - waiting to see which one the cops question first - isn’t always practical. The alternative of asking someone “How black are you?” can lead to some very unpleasant results (something I can personally attest to).
And while you’re taking questions - something that, as an author, I believe you’re legally required to do - I have one more. Every time I go to church Jesus seems to get whiter and whiter. In a few years I fully expect Him to be 6’4”, have blond hair, speak with a Finnish accent, and hang from an Ikea cross. Don’t people ever look at the atlas and see he probably looks more like me than Sven?
The Black American is a relatively new cultural phenomenon. We are not culturally African, but in practice we are not fully American. Every day I am bombarded by evidence of European, Asian, Indian, Jewish, Hispanic, and Islamic cultures, but mine, it would seem, is an accumulation of conflict with the dominant American demographic. I refuse to simply forget my culture simply because it makes some people uncomfortable. It is an immense part of this country’s history, and it’s the only history which the many generations of my ancestors in America have been able to preserve. It is uniquely ours, and should be remembered by everyone— not just Black Americans— as both a testament to the enduring human spirit and a lesson on the price of inhumanity.
Why do black people put sneakers on their babies? If your child can't sit up on their own, I'm pretty sure they don't know or care that "these are the new Air Force's."
Why do you only care about black people putting sneakers on their babies? Are overpriced sneakers to be reserved only for white, latino, asian, native american and other ethnic groups. That seems downright racist. Let all the races waste money on bullshit! That’s what America is all about.
Baratunde,Does this book teach people how to be black or black people how to be black? Its obvious from your picture,youre black.I am white woman -when I go before people, I usually don't say, "hello, I am a white woman" it's obvious.But then again,we read the book "How to Be White"!Sometimes though,I don't think I am white enough -but cannot find a book to instruct me how to do so!Damn, I shouldn't have been reading self-help & help others books! Since I thought we are all people! Keep smiling
As I mention on the first page of the book:
First, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way. This book is not How To Become A Black Person If You Are Not Already Black. You cannot use this book as a magic potion. You cannot digest the printed copy and expect some supernatural physical transformation beyond painful indigestion. If you purchased this book with the intention of changing your race, I thank you for your money, but there will be no refunds. None
As for an instructional guide on How To Be White, I recommend Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like or J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Internet memes love to focus on the tooth-deprived, heavy-set, or more flamboyant sector of blackness. It’s like when ‘Precious’ came out. All the Hollywood (white) actresses raved about her, loved taking pics with her. I don’t remember that level of fanfare over Thandie Newton. Uh HUH.
It makes me laugh and die a little when I see black women in ill-fitting clothes held up for ridicule by social media. What makes it sad is the women see themselves as multi-faceted individuals and think everyone else does too.
These women are in booty shorts with grills and 4-inch fingernails, but they also have jobs, spouses, children, and artistic interests. Too often all we see are the two minutes they let their hair down after a 50-hour work week. But, like those Hollywood actresses, people love to laugh at the poorly dressed, heavy-set black woman because they feel superior to her. They need to believe that lie, because their own self-worth is based on a hierarchy that is itself based on a lie.
Working in Advertising I’m usually (if not perennially) the only person of colour at the agency - this is something I’ve grown accustomed to, and honestly, hadn’t seriously considered until I read your hilariously erudite piece of literature - it was empowering.
I’ve found very nuanced ways of tactfully calling people out on their - sometimes varied - ignorance as opposed to my prior habit of laughing off those awkward situations. Case in point: here’s how a mate of mine *casually* described a girl he wanted to set me up with: “Dude, she’s great! She’s a lawyer, has a great sense of humour and not like *insert neck roll gesture* Shanaynay… she’s white-washed… like you… you two will get along”. In an equally casual tone, I told him that the term “white-washed” isn’t exactly complimentary and he seemed genuinely surprised. This in turn led to an honest conversation about the problem with stereotypes (how they are incomplete and ultimately flatten people’s experiences) and a profound learning experience for the pair of us.
Cheers a ton for such a capital read. Your acerbic and bone marrow dry humour made for numerous laugh-out-loud-at-an-ungodly-hour-type-scenarios.
How do you define a racial identity? Can “blackness” be defined simply by a person’s skin tone, hair texture or facial features? Can we define it by the way someone walks or talks? Can it be a product of someone’s cultural affinities, regardless of what she looks like?