Wednesday, July 18, 2012

13 Phrases Black People Must Abolish If We Are Ever To Get Ahead.

[Editor's Note: Yeah, I'm rerunning and updating this one.]

My job as a socially responsible blogger is to sometimes say sh*t that hurts, with intentions of waking people up and steering them in the right direction. One thing that continues to hold black folks back is bassackwards self-limiting behavior that's best evidenced in some of the Negro Talking Points that many of us utilize on the regular. Until we eliminate these phrases from our collective vocabularies, we will stay losin'. And I don't want us to stay losin', I want us to start winnin'. In that vein, I present to you, a quintet of things Black people need to stop saying, as of today.

1. "My Baby Got Good Hair!" - Black people, for the last time: there is no such thing as "good" hair!!! Black hair comes in all grades, colors, thicknesses, and varying degrees of waviness. And any hair you have on your head is good. Any hair. Just ask a brother who has succumbed to male pattern baldness, or a sista with one of those hideous Vivica A. Foxx hairlines, and they'll tell you the same: they'd much rather have their own full head of hair back, regardless of how "good" or "bad" it originally was.

2. "I'm An Independent/Strong Black Woman!" - Ahhh, the mythical "Independent black woman", a shopworn cliché just as tired as that lame Lil' Boosie song. Ladies, let's face it: if being able to pay your own bills without the help of a man makes you "Independent", then you probably have some Daddy issues that have lead to your dramatically lowered sense of self. How about we just substitute the term "self sufficient" or "able bodied" instead? I've yet to hear the term "Independent" applied to a black man who is able to knock out the bills without mooching off some chick. The true litmus test of being independent is not having to print up business cards announcing it to anyone. Why the double standard? And BTW, in any marriage that has a chance, there's got to be some level of interdependence.

3. "I'm Looking For A 'Good Black Man'!" - Ahh, the mythical "good black man" has become more or less like a Negro Unicorn in recent years. Revisionist history says today's black man is either in jail, dead, gay, on the DL, creepin' on his wife, or all of the above. As if men "back in the day" didn't do all the same sh*t, albeit in a more covert and respectable manner. If we keep it real with ourselves, many of us will admit our Grandfathers either had a family on "the other side of town", or we were that family on "the other side of town". Sorry Negroes are hardly a new development. On the flipside, I've yet to hear a standard definition for what a "good black man" actually is. Is a "good black man" merely one who doesn't possess any of the aforementioned traits of trifledom, or something even better? Since we can't agree, why don't we just agree that this "good man" doesn't exist, and that we're all flawed to some degree, but still worthy of companionship. How bout' that?

4. "We Have A Black President, There Are No More Excuses!" - Despite my "Where Is Obama?!?" tagline, I don't think the man's election is the cure for all that ails black America. Likewise, his ascension to the White House shouldn't be a "wake up call" for Negroes to suddenly abandon The Traaap and The Pole to suddenly raise their standards and pickup a freakin' book. Black people been had high achievement. We've been millionaires, Ivy League Presidents, Astrophysicists (whatever that is), Neurosurgeons, and Fortune 500 CEOs. This is nothing new. If you just figured out that black people have no limits to what we can achieve on 1.20.09, then please stop reading this blog (or any blog for that matter) right now and go apply to Everest College.

5. "We Are Descendants Of Kings And Queens!" - Ahh, my favorite all-time HBCU Negro Motivational Talking Point, and one that I still occasionally hear on talk radio, at church, and even to motivate AAU youth basketball teams (no, seriously, this one coach actually used that line!) today. Folks, we need to keep it one hunned: most of the people who left Goree island were not descendants of royalty. It it mathematically impossible. Reality is, many of us are descendants of weed heads, janitors, and "ladies of the night". And there is nothing wrong with that. But continuing the fallacy that we are all the spawn of throne dwellers is intellectually dishonest. Admit it: if your genealogy report came back, and you discovered you weren't a descendant of a Kaing, but instead a descendant of the ancient Nigerian version of Stevie H, would you be devastated, or somewhat relieved? Putting outlandish standards out there for folks to live up to creates unrealistic expectations that none of us can live up to. Who needs to carry that sorta weight? Create your own legacy.

6. "Black Folks Do This, White Folks Do That." - I always hear this term as relates to something black people do poorly that white people in turn, do well. For example, "Black folks inherit a house from their grandma and run it into the ground. White folks inherit a house, renovate it, and sell it for a profit." Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations.

7. "She/He's Got Swag!" - Just. Retire. This. Word. Today. Seriously, every person with confidence doesn't need to be handed with tired assed label. There's even a brand of Old Spice deodorant called "Swag". It smells like missed child support payments, Red Berry Ciroc, and superficiality. Swag is not a replacement for competence, character, class, or any other high falutin' word that begins with the letter "C".

8. "I'm Just Keepin' It Real/One Hunned/Real Talk" - If you begin any phrase with either of these interchangeable terms, please read the last sentence of Point #4. Aloud.

9. "I Got So Many Haters." - Just because people doesn't like you doesn't mean they're haters. Maybe you're just not very likeable.

10. "I Stays On My Grind." - If you Tweet/Facebook, or otherwise state this, and you don't either 1) Run a country. or 2) Run a profitable business, then please, please just stop it. If you work a dead end assed job, and you're using this term, really stop it. There is no "grind" involved in working at Costco.

11. "I Take Care Of All My Kids." - Nice job. You are so awesome! Would you like a cookie?

12. "He/She Talks White." - Arrghhhhhhh!!!!

13. "We Need More Positive Images Of Black People In The Media/This Is A Positive Movie, You Need To Go See It!/I Hate Tyler Perry!" - Just because a movie/TV show doesn't involve baby mommas, open air crack distribution, or wonton violence don't make it good. If you don't like what you see on TV, might I suggest reading a book.

Question: You got any more dreaded "Negro Talking Points" that black America needs to abandon for its own good? If you ever needed the invitation to climb atop your soapbox and hold court, consider this your Evite, and have at it.

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