The Insult of Being Labeled a Decent Negro.

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Flee

Someone gave me that: oh you speak so well for a black man speech.

It was the feeling of embarrassment that I first had to deal with. After that, I wanted to channel Jeezy and reply “miss me with that rap shit”.  My actual reply was one of stereotypes based on speech patterns as being a lazy ass observation that is a result of the listener being an outsider. Don’t limit me with the you speak so well, its more to it than running phrases back to back without pause. Its calculated thought. Its looking to discuss topics of lasting value without being pretentious.

Stepping away from that interaction, yes I’m known to use a healthy range of words, but I developed this condition by way of hours of endless reading and writing.  Don’t ever get it twisted, my day time persona is a result of the NEED to assimilate. Ive met some good people exercising my knowledge in exchange for cash and we have become actual friends. In my free time I’m sitting in the sun getting as BLACK as I want.

Language is only part of I am and I don’t ever feel like what I say or how I say it makes me better than any other black man. I admire the intelligence and moxie of Marshawn Lynch with the same affinity I have for those traits in Dr. Cornell West.  To base assumptions on overall intellect or integrity on speech is missing the mark on the fact that speech is about what you are exposed to. That also applies to comprehension of the listener as well. Every group of people has forms of laxed colloquial communication. Why is it that black people are singled out for speaking “Ebonics”. Better yet why is it assumed by non-blacks that colloquial speech is all encompassing, as if a person from Oakland speaks the same as someone in Atlanta. How much slang one uses is in no way a compass that can be used for gauging character.  But since perceptions of black men has everything to do with how one postures himself and easy way to keep ignorance at bay is to be able to have your words and diction do some very low level disarming of observers. This plays into what the generation before us to do work three times as hard.  Doing that work gives me constant anxiety. No one told me that was also part of the arrangement.

Lets take a break and let Nas explain the nuances of the thoughts I’m liable to feel in my day to day as a Black man trying to blend his talents,(and only talents)  into the corporate space without sacrificing my senses of dignity and decency:

By the way I hate this song for naming names.

I’ve from time to time tried to gauge another’s blackness as if I had a metric to do so. On the flip side of that I am ever aware of the fact that my ambitions can take me to a place where my own blackness is questioned. I suppose the fear is the love I have for people who look like me being rejected and having no community to fit into. A definite phobia is getting into a relationship with someone who isn’t black and in that, becoming a caricature of someone who is trying to run away from his blackness by turning his own household into a melting pot. I don’t think that is actually even possible.

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