The Wrong Kind of Black People

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Recently a complex set of circumstances resulted in me being at a house party. Not a party in someone’s house, but a party at which only house music was played. By the legendary Louis Vega no less…whoever the fuck that is. And even though I really like house music, a house party is not a place where you should ever go looking for Max. I don’t go to parties like that because – to be perfectly frank – they’re filled with White people. Not that I have anything against White people – I grew up in a very White city and some of my favourite people from my past are melanin-deficient. It’s simply that I am the kind of Black person who really (really) prefers to be around Black people.

The people I went to the party with were Black; new friends who I liked very much. But as I stood in the party, gritting my teeth as I was bumped into from every direction by drunk, staggering, hyper White people, I couldn’t help looking at them (and the few other Black people at the party) with equal parts derision and incredulity. If I was the type of person to make scenes at parties, I would have grabbed them by their shoulders and screamed “HOW can you LIKE this? What kind of Black people are you?!?”

The answer, of course, is simple. A different kind than I.

These are the kind of Black people who don’t see the world filtered through race. They don’t choose which events they attend based on the race of the attendees or read books because of the race of the author. They don’t automatically cheer for the Black guy on their favourite reality TV show and when they start a new job, they don’t immediately befriend the one other Black guy. This kind of Black person is comfortable having no Black friends or living in a city where there are no Black people. They don’t choose their political party based on the fact that its leader has jungle fever like I did. They just do what they do, go where they go, like what they like…whether those things happen to be “black” or not.

I used to be this kind of Black person myself. When I was a naive teenager who wanted an identity for myself beyond my race I went out of my way to shun any- and everything I considered Black and opted instead for whatever was considered cool at the time. I wanted to develop a personality beyond “the black girl” and refused to listen to the music, go to the parties, or befriend the people the world expected me to just because they were Black.

Then I discovered A Different World and it changed my life. The music, the clothes, the slang that I’d been avoiding were now being used by the coolest cast of characters ever on a Thursday night. Every week there was something new to learn about and the longer it went on, the more I learned that Black culture is effing cool.

These days, I am pretty much the opposite of the way I was in high school. After spending so much time rejecting my Blackness, I do my best to OD on it now. And because of that, I find it hard to process it when I meet Black people like my house-party friends who don’t seem to feel the same way. Although it’s totally unfair, when I meet Black people who seem not to make their race the centre and object of their existence, I can help wondering why. And I can’t help judging them for what I presume their reasons to be.

There’s much more I could say about this, but I’d much rather hear your thoughts. Have you ever felt like an outsider because of your race or culture? Do you ever downplay it to make it easier to fit in? Am I being a judgmental asshole?? Speak on it in the comments.

bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 44

  1. Sukez says:

    Yeah, there are times where I’ve felt like an outsider because of my race. And there are times where I’ll see a group of select unnecessarily rowdy Black people and I’ll automatically disassociate myself from that group in saying, “I’m not like them muthafckahs” because I don’t how some black people act and I’ll just simply say That’s not ME. faster than you can blink. But I never really went around disowning the race entirely. I love being Black. I won’t cheer with the Black person that makes it alive in the scary movie [s/he was lucky lol]. I embrace all races with open arms… most of the time lol Are you being a judgmental asshole? If I say yes, will you beat me? :-D

    1. max says:

      Lol no Suki I’m not going to beat you I’m gonna cut you…I will thank you for your honesty!

      1. Sukez says:

        It’s always funny to see you threaten me. I imagine it… then laugh it off. Cuz I have a strategy. Count 1…2…3 and watch you not move cuz you were waiting for 4! HA! i<3u

        1. emti says:

          ^^^^ *DEAD*

        2. fixedwater says:

          hilarious

  2. Reecie says:

    I’m the kind of black person that grew up in a city and school system that’s 80-90% black, in the south. I went to a HBCU, but I work in a field that’s majority white–but what field isn’t? lol

    I’m the kind of black person that is always looking for, and feels at home, with other black people. always. I won’t get into the classifications between black folks vs. ni@@as because yall know the distinction. but I love them too–unless they are trying to kill or rob me. I kid, no I’m serious. we are a colorful people–what’s not to love?

    I’m nice and pleasant enough go get along with all people but at the end of the day–I know where I wanna be. I don’t see anything wrong with that. at all. be who you are Max–I would’ve tried that party out for the sake of appreciating different scenes, but I wouldn’t have lasted all night. well maybe if the drinks were good and I found a good conversation partner/crew.

    I do downplay it at times to keep the peace. I’m a peaceful mofo, after all. I don’t want no ruckus, and I definitely don’t want to be the cause of it. But say some slick shit and…well then its a wrap. lol

    1. CHeeKZ Money says:

      “…but I work in a field that’s majority white–but what field isn’t? lol”

      Prison

  3. I think I’m weird. I’ve always been a mixed crowd type of girl until I got to college and some how fell into near exclusive black group. I went majority for my masters and I’m sinking back into nearly all black group. I think for me personally I tend to side with other parts of my heritage so I sometimes lack a grip on the typical “black folks” jokes which makes me feel uncomfortable. My skin tone indicates that I should be in the know but I’m often lost lol.

    Like Suki though I’m quick to give the side eye to some members… mostly those that ride the DC Metro.

  4. Satya says:

    For just drinking and bar hopping I like a mix crowd. I’ll go with my 2520 friends and feel fine. But, when it’s time for partying as in clubs and lounges I like establishment that play old and new hit and reggae. The places that play that music tend to mostly attract black people and a few “others”. I do try to befriend the one black guy at work and gravitate towards people of color in classes. I went to a PWI and most of them came from some type of $, went to private school all their lives, and received brand new cars when they finished HS. I didn’t identify with that.
    I usually don’t root for the black on reality tv…unless he’s cute.
    IF you want to get rip roaring drunk and have some hilarious stories to tell you def have to go out with your melanin deficient friends

  5. B_P says:

    I love my black folks! Like Reecie mentioned I like nigg@s too. I am mixed and from Belize and hate it when someone tries to indentify me as anything but black ( sometimes my friends call me hispanic). However, I do have an eclectic group of friends. Some of my dearest friends are white and asian. I live in one of the largest melting pot cities in Cali and I love it. In a 5 mile radius from my home I can find Vietnamese, Chinese, Jamaican and soul food. At the end of the day I will always love and appreciate my black people FIRST.

    *side bar. I can not date a 2520 again. I have tried and I just can’t. The last one was really a great guy (on paper) but he smelled like bologna when he was wet and he didn’t understand what being ashy was. He also kept trying to get me to sex him so he could know why he would never go “back”. *sigh*

  6. CHeeKZ Money says:

    This post is doper than anybody realizes. What was it that drew you into the type of click you are in? I think the issue is over looked in black people b/c ‘they’ think it is just based on skin. But why are goth kids into Slayer or Sci Fi kids into Star Trek. Why is it that we like big butts and hate snitching?

    I know I became introduced to the black is cool movement by my cousin (who has since left the movement). But she showed me my first public enemy video and it has been on ever since. Tribe called quest (say the whole thing, like a pimp named slickback). Leaders of the New School (all Long Island/East Queens acts). Before rap I didn’t even find black women that attractive. Sure I was only 6 or 7. But I like Molly Wringwall (sp) and Madonna. It was rap that brought me Darlene Ortiz on the cover of Ice T’s Power and that chick from the ‘G Thing’ video shoot that got her top popped while playing volleyball.

    One thing I don’t like about my GF or her friends is their inablity to leave race behind. They bring out a bunch of stupid African American Study Quotes about how race will always be there. Even if that were true, that does not have to be the defining factor of the night. Captain Obvious, if we were the only black people in the room do we really have to have a discussion about being the only black people in the room? You put me or my goons anywhere in the world and we will feel great. Race is an excuse, I can’t be contained by a societal construct.

  7. CHeeKZ Money says:

    Oh and while I don’t always root for the negro on reality TV, I consider it a crime against nature to root against a black QB. Even if Vick is playing against my giants, I atleast want it to be a high scoring game so people can admit he can play QB.

    Mike Vick. Vince Young. McNabb. That Josh Freeman with the Jew Afro. All Virgina Tech QBs. Pat White. Terrell Pyror. Troy Smith.

    every black QB except JaMarcus Russell….. he goes into the clarence thomas category.

    1. Cosign the Black QB stuff.

      How does Drew Brees get a shot – but Troy Smith is too short, but they’re basically the same height. And why did Arizona go get a proven failure in Derreck Anderson instead of giving a guy like Troy Smith a shot.

      How did Charlie Ward, one of the illest college football players of all time who played in an NFL style offense, fall to the second round. But the Denver Broncos – who already have a good QB in Kyle Orton TRADE UP to draft Tim Tebow who played in an offense that only works in college, runs like fullback and throws like a… fullback…

      If Vick was the starter but sucked in his first 2 quarters and got hurt and Kolb came in and played 6 flawless quarters – are we all 100% sure Vick would still be the starter when he was healthy? Just a thought…

      I hate the Redskins, love the Giants, but, I’m having a lot of trouble not rooting for them this year, just so Mcnabb can sh** on the Eagles.

      Yeah Cheekz – I feel you.

    2. haha my dad always taught me that when all else fails, root for the black coach and/or QB. this has been my rule ever since. and like you said, even if they’re playing MY team (chargers, hometown squad), i give much respect to the black qb/coach simply because they’re there.

  8. Sam Sharpe says:

    Great post max.

    I myself have friends of all races, colours and creeds but must admit that I’m most comfortable being around people like me. And in my case it’s more specific than just being black, it’s being Jamaican born but Canadian raised, it’s a weird netherworld where when I’m in Jamaica I’m not Jamaican enough and I don’t need to tell you how I’m perceived here in Toronto.

    Have I ever felt like an outsider strictly because of my race or culture? Of course, but I try not to let that get in the way of my flex. I’m going to move how I want to move and if that means going to a party and being the only brother for miles, then so be it.

    But I must admit, that I do downplay certain things around certain people in order to fit in more comfortably…for example, the white dudes who I work with would flip their lids if they observed and/or listened to me in my “natural milieu” with my friends. Or as we’d actually say when I’m with “de man dem”…But then again, most of us do relate to people in specific ways depending on our cultural, political, social, national and linguistic ties with them. I think to a certain extent it’s just human nature.

    1. Nick@Nite says:

      I have the same issue down here. Jamaican born, but American raised..
      I’m too Jamaican for the Americans and vice versa..

  9. I had an interesting childhood… at least I’d say I did. I grew up on Long Island, in a lower middle class suburb. The little block I grew up on just happened to be a bastion for illegal – drug related activity. My elementary school was so black that some kids bullied the few fair skinned spanish kids because they thought they were white. But I was really smart. So, after elementary school, I went to a private middle/high school on a scholarship (and with the help of a wonderful aunt). There, I was with all sorts of kids. Rich white Jewish kids, rich white children of Mafia families, Rich black kids who acted white, rich black kids who acted really hood. And then, other kids like me, who were there by luck. At that school, I was very popular with all crowds (homecoming king, Student Gov. President… all that), but, I didn’t fit all the way into any crowd in particular. Was too aware and had seen too much really hood sh*t to be down with the wanna be ghetto black folks, but wasn’t rich enough for the bourghie ones. And then, I was smart, opinionated and well spoken, which endeared me to a lot of white folks but my race and unwillingness to overlook our countries divided history kept me forever at a certain distance from white students.

    Somehow though, my introduction to other cultures made me appreciate black culture even more. I just didn’t have anyone to share that appreciation with – black or white. It wasn’t untill I got to college (a PWI) that I actually found other black people like me. Black kids who were smart and knew their history and weren’t afraid to speak the history to anybody (black white or otherwise). Blacks who liked to do well in school, but also liked Polo and Jordans and Jay-Z. And would also punch you in the mouth if you said something slick. That was my “A Different World” moment.

    Now, I much rather be around my own people. I spend all day around everybody else. I love spending my free time with people who can appreciate (in a non-vicarious way) the shared experiences, shared history, and shared struggle and shared successes of those of the African Diaspora.

    Dope Max!

  10. emti says:

    I just googled PWI *hangs head in shame*

    1. It’s something edumacated black folks say to describe the racial make-up of their college or university. A PWI is a “Predominantly White Institution”.

      1. emti says:

        So I learned lol
        I live in Canada every college or university is a PWI

        1. Gina says:

          LOL…I had to google it too! And 2520, lol!

  11. Oh and even though it looks like it might be kinda corny, I plan on watching “Undercovers” with Boris Kodjoe just because it’s rare that a black, married couple are the protagonists of a Primetime Network Drama.

    1. Reecie says:

      *high five*

      I actually try to think of it as a black Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I hope its dope, but then again it is network tv (and NBC at that) so we can only be optimistic…

      1. CHeeKZ Money says:

        well its nice to see network TV give them a chance though.
        The checks are bigger.

        ‘The Event’ wasn’t much of one.
        Eff A Cuban President

        1. The Event was so underwhelming. While watching it, all I could think about was Lost. It was like a Lost/”24″ hybrid. Didn’t like it. I did catch Boardwalk Empire, which is void of all color, except that mammy-fied maid.

          1. emti says:

            That’s exactly what I thought…”is this a Lost wannabe?”

            1. Reecie says:

              looks like some elements of FlashForward as well. I think the consensus of the premiere episode was “huh?” LOL

          2. @Nia – From what I’ve read, Michael K. Williams (AKA Omar from The Wire) will have a decent sized role in Boardwalk Empire.

            The story takes place in the early 20′s which just around the time the great migration was starting – so – probably about 70% of people of color in this country were still living in the deep south.

            But yeah, Scorcese doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to his treatment of the racial stereotypes of the times in his period pieces.

            1. Yeah, I know. I didn’t expect to see a ton of black people walking around 1920s Atlantic City. Did you catch the black face band during the prohibition celebration scene?

              I’m looking to seeing what role Omar plays in the story.

              1. Yeah I tweeted about that when the rolled through. IDK, sometimes I feel like Scorcese goes overboard with pointing out the racial tension of certain periods of time – he does it in, literally, everything he directs, but then sometimes I wonder if I’m being too senstive. When you look at it objectively, he kinda does it to everyone.

  12. My upbringing is very similar to Reecie’s. All black everything. lol. And now, I find that I enjoy hanging out with a more mixed group of people. I love my black folks, and I have no problem hanging out with them. I’m just of the mind set, why do I have to? I spent my junior year of college away from my dear HBCU, and at a PWI. And didn’t like that some of my own made me feel like an outsider for wanting to experience all that the PWI had to offer instead of just posting up at Ujamaa all the time, attending the parties they throw, or only socializing with them at the white frat parties. I alread attended an HBCU, and wasn’t looking for a fake HBCU experience at a PWI. So now, I work with mostly white folks, and I socialize with black people who enjoy mixed crowds as much as I do..

    However, I support all black actors, black quarterbacks, black hockey players, black sitcoms, black drams, black presidents on black dramas, and I will probably never really consider a non-black man for a romantic relationship. Unless he looks like Sayid, then I might consider it.

    1. Reecie says:

      yasss Sayid and Mohinder Suresh from Heroes (now on Covert Affairs) have raised the stock of Middle Eastern men to me! they are FAHN.

  13. Nick@Nite says:

    I don’t even know how to describe my upbringing.. Went to Catholic school and made friends with people from everywhere. I left and because my mother didn’t want me at the “black school” she had me bussed to another school. Went to a magnet program for spanish and because it was in the hood, it was probably my first interaction with black people on a consistent basis.
    My house played Barbra Streisand and Englebert Humperdink (yes, I wrote that)disco and easy-rock. I didn’t know much about reggae until high school. There was always Bob Marley, but my mother kept me sheltered. I learned about hip-hop by Digital Underground and Tribe called Quest videos. Watched Yo! MTV Raps religiously. Didn’t realize what “being black” was until middle school. Was called white until I reached high school. Then I was “that black chick with the eclectic tastes” I was in the band though, so it didn’t really result in my being “uncool” (the fact that I dated one of the popular dudes helped)
    I don’t know. I don’t take my race into account for much. Yes, I will say that I do consider the crowd before I go mostly anywhere. I have a low tolerance for crowds and stupidity and I usually find that once liquor is involved the stupidity factor increases..
    I don’t shun particular things just because they’re white. I like what I like. However, “black” things don’t get a free pass with me just because they’re black. No, I dont’ watch black shows just because they’re black. The same goes for black movies, actors etc.. But that’s just me..

    1. B_P says:

      “I don’t shun particular things just because they’re white. I like what I like. However, “black” things don’t get a free pass with me just because they’re black.”

      Amen.

  14. i went to an inner city high school that was about 95% black. i think i can count on one hand how many 2520′s attended my high school. my neighborhood was all black. i went to a HBCU for undergrad and i attend a HBCU now for my graduate work. i’m used to being around black people. when i’m around a large amount of anglos is makes me nervous. i wonder how i’m going to deal in the professional world.

    1. You’ll be fine. They like to drink and BBQ just as much, if not more so than you. Well, I know they like to drink. lol. So, you will already have something in common. lol.

    2. B_P says:

      When you become immersed in a new work environment working with other ethic groups I would be super observant. At least that is what I did in the beginning. I made sure I became allies with the right people. Having friends that are 2520s is a whole different ball game than working with them, IMO.

  15. gp says:

    I feel that way alllll the time! I grew up in a predominately white high school, but I was friends with everybody so I didn’t really have a preference. Got to my 99.6% white university and I became CAUCASIAN-PHOBIC! My favorite weekend hobby was to OD on black parties, black events, a black ANYTHING cause most of my work-week was spent dealing with white folks, who I had absolutely nothing in common with. And don’t get me started on what most of them consider a “fun” night out… getting drunk and becoming obnoxious and yet somehow oblivious to the feelings of those around you is WHACK! *raises right fist high above head*

  16. theOutlier says:

    De-lurking for a second to ask: Am I the only one bothered by the way we box ourselves in, and therefore out of a number of different life experiences based solely on race? I’m writing quickly and without mincing words, so forgive me if I sound harsh, but… while I love being black, I am not about to let my race dictate my interests or limit my life experiences.

    I have never gone out of my way to avoid other black people, but I’ve also never felt like I should ignore my real interests in order to conform to some narrow standard of blackness. In no particular order, I like computer programming, Science Fiction, East Asian cultures, dance, politics, and outdoor sports. Most of these are not typically embraced by large numbers of black people. So what, are people like me supposed to do? Ignore our true passions to avoid the ire of the soul patrol?

    The result of my decisions? I’ve had my black card revoked so many times I’m convinced I have an infinite supply. I’m old/secure enough to be fine with now because I know who I am. I just think it’s unfortunate that this mentality shuts many of us out from finding our true passions, which may or may not lie within the realm of “acceptable black behavior.”

    1. max says:

      I feel what you’re saying. I’m the first one to bemoan the fact that Black people often enslave themselves by over-analyzing the implications of everything they do…am I less Black if I perm my hair, listen to country, attend a PWI?
      I agree with you that we should be free to explore whatever interest captures us without worrying about having the Black card revoked.
      For me though I look at my experience as a teenager as a forced separation from Black culture (although no one forced me to shun it) and I look at my adulthood as an opportunity to make up for lost time…so I don’t see it as limiting myself when I choose to surround myself by Black people or Black culture. It makes me happier.

      1. theOutlier says:

        You say you get what I’m saying, but this entire post has an air of judgment that is getting co-signed far too frequently for my comfort level.

        “Although it’s totally unfair, when I meet Black people who seem not to make their race the centre and object of their existence, I can help wondering why. And I can’t help judging them for what I presume their reasons to be.”

        Maybe the reason people don’t make being black the center of their existence is because they have a different conception of what it means to be black. Maybe the things traditionally associated with black culture don’t make them as passionate as critiquing art house films, the value of applied Game Theory, or the Bauhaus design movement.

        Those people you are silently judging may happily go back to their family or predominantly black neighborhood/friend circle and have no issue with embracing that environment. Being interested in something that doesn’t directly have to do with being black is no indication of discomfort with who you are. Why are so many people here making it seem like that’s the case?

        Choosing to be in environments that are predominantly black some or most of the time isn’t limiting in and of itself.. but if that’s how you plan to live the rest of your life, you could find yourself missing out on some amazing life experiences.

  17. “Although it’s totally unfair, when I meet Black people who seem not to make their race the centre and object of their existence, I can help wondering why. And I can’t help judging them for what I presume their reasons to be.”

    i am right there with you on this entire post, but the above quote especially!!! i dont know where this mindset came from. my mother is latina so im not even “full” black (whatever that even means lol). but since i dont speak spanish fluently (neither does my mother), ive always been more comfortable and more accepted around blacks. hell, im not even from a city where there is a large percentage of black ppl.

    nevertheless, i have this very clear idea about my racial/ethnic identity and never suffered from being a tragic mulatto. that while i CAN and DO hang out with many different types of ppl, like many different types of food/music/etc, and appreciate many different religions/cultures/languages/etc, ive ALWAYS preferred hanging with black ppl who identify with other blacks who identify with black culture. *shrugs*

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