Friday, May 1, 2009

try to get close to black people

Take a look at CNN's Kyra Phillips, boldly addressing some sticky issues with a noticeably black guy, T. J. Holmes. It seems to me that while the ostensible topic here is the personality and style of Barack Obama, Phillips is also trying to cozy up to blackness. Which is what I guess white people are supposed to be doing these days, now that a black man and his family occupy the White House.

Kyra Phillips is also trying to understand here what "black culture" is, and her method is to quiz one of its spokespeople. And I guess since T. J. Holmes is black, why wouldn't he want to serve as a tour guide of black culture? (I look forward to the segment where Phillips serves as the tour guide for "white culture.")

If white folks are feeling a need to get closer to black folks these days, is this a good way to do it? By insisting on awkward conversations, and by trying to define Barack Obama's "swagga"?


  1. I was home on my lunch hour watching CNN when I saw this and immediately changed the channel. They won't be getting any advertising dollars from me.

  2. I was subjected to this against my will, as CNN is piped into the breakroom at my job. They ought to have a PSA: "This awkward moment brought to you by CNN."


    Life is what it is, and moments like these only make being a minority at work more difficult.

  3. I'm sorry that you feel so disconnected from your own people.

    This whole blog makes me very sad because I know that many white Americans share this discoonect from their forefathers, culture and history.

    Generally, people take pleasure in the particularities of their ethinic group and its history, even the negative aspects of a culture are often celebrated. Modern whites have been completely cut off from this inheritence and it is mostly our own fault. Too much television, junk food and public school brainwashing I think.

    It is also very sad to me that you will probably find this post "hate" speech for me to suggest that white American culture is something meaningful, unique from other cultures and worth preserving.

  4. Mandy, did you know that "white" is not an ethnicity? People in America became white by shedding markers of what came to be known as ethnicity--"Italian," "Greek," "Irish," and so on. That's why many whites share a disconnect from their forefathers (and mothers), not because of junk food and TV.

    What in particular do you want to "preserve" about white culture? And what, to you, is "white culture"?

  5. Mandy, if you think white people are disconnected from the "white culture" , you're due for a stroll around D.C. Take a look at all the monuments dedicated to the ancestors of whites and revel in the fact that "white culture" is all around us.

  6. Isabel

    Culture is not monuments erected by government. Culture is passed down by parents to children. It is customs, and values and world views. Culture is living and breathing every day, it cannot come from stone or from the government. It comes only from human interaction and shared experiences.


    White Americans have become an ethinicity in the same way black Americans have. Most of us have the common background of various ancestors came from different parts of Europe, gave up the old world traditions to adopt a new, (mostly)Anglo based one, intermarried with each other and occasionally different racial groups but maintained basic customs associated with white America today.

    There are commonalities and differences between white and black America but to say there is no basically unified "white American" culture is untrue. And to mock customs and behaviors as "white" shows you know it to be true. For example, the propaganda artist in this post walking on eggshells to not offend any dark skinned viewers, prefering certain music, having a particular world view you deem "Racist," having notions of personal space(hugging) unique to that group, self confidence (you redefine as a sense of undeserved entitlement) etc... You're blogging about the cultural and behavioral aspects of a racial/ethnic group that are widespread enough that you notice them and expect others to recognize them.

    Would you dare blog about stereotypes of other ethnicites or races? not a chance!

    I absolutely agree with y9ou that the war on drugs is terrible should have ended eons ago.

  7. Mandy,

    Can you give some examples of white American culture? White is a grouping of people sharing the same skin tone (however, you will find many people who are lumped under "white" when they don't consider themselves so [e.g. Middle Eastern-Americans].

    Also, you mistakenly state that there's one black American culture when there's not. As you should know, not all black Americans share the same ethnic background. Some of us are African-Americans, Caribbean-Americans and from all corners of the world.

    In addition, a majority of American culture actually stem from not white American culture, but African-American, Asian-American (all subgroups), Latino, and Native American cultures. America does not equate to white American culture alone. So, once again, what examples are you referring to?

    The purpose of Macon's blog is to discuss behaviors that infringe on the lives of non-white Americans. Often these behaviors are pathological and not truly realized. Macon seeks to unhinge these behaviors and acknowledge what drama they cause.

    Seek back, relax, and learn. It won't hurt you.

  8. LOL! to the CNN moment. The real word, of course, is "swagger" and refers to walking with confidence, maybe even cockiness. It's not that white men don't/can't walk with confidence or cockiness, most do. There's just not the same rhythm/sway. That's all. It'd be better to talk about how blackness=coolness if you're white and/or affluent. But, yeah, there is a "subculture," for lack of better words, within black culture that connects to black men and cockiness. Think of the historical cigarette dudes, and I'm proud to say my grandfather was a cigarette dude. Think of Will Smith. He has "swagga." Don Cheadle, who also represents black culture, doesn't generally convey they same swagger. Not to me, at least.


    Calm down, calm down. "White" culture is not being threatened or dismissed by anyone. The fact is, American culture borrows from many subcultures, ie eating salsa as a party favor. But as for the dominant culture, "white" culture, no one begrudges taking pride in white culture. But it's not as though "mainstream" culture doesn't celebrate "white" culture enough. So, to press for more celebration of "white" culture when "white" culture is our social/cultural norm is to press for overkill, it is to press for even more privileging of whiteness and less respect for other cultures.

    White culture and its celebration isn't begrudged. The way America as a society, and white people in particular, seem to think that white culture isn't just normal, it's better is what we find fault with. And for the amusement I have watching the CNN clip, it is tiresome to have to explain black culture to white onlookers as though they, or Kyra, are at a museam. "See how the black man leans back in his walk? Notice the way he seems to glide? That demonstrates to others a social confidence and cockiness they have. Though, a man with swagga in one situation where he is comfortable may lose it in a situation where he is not; or, he may lose it for purposes of fitting into the whiteness of academia or corporations." Really? Is that what white folks need to "understand" their new president?

    Now, now. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure from your perspective, it seems like white culture is being insulted and slapped around from every whichaway. But that's because white culture is your default and you notice anything that differs. Take a day or two to notice all the ways that white culture is actually dominant, and you'll feel much better.

  9. The word swagga and President should not be used in the same sentence. Are we subliminally de-valuing President??

  10. @MANchild - It doesn't sound or read quite right, does it? I hadn't thought of it, but you may be right. Maybe that's why I pointed out the word is "swagger." Hmmm.

  11. I think there is some subliminal devaluing of the prez--I mean, the president--going on here. FWIW, I wrote "swagga" instead of "swagger" because to my ear, that's clearly what Kyra Phillips says.

  12. That's what she said, Macon. And I think there've been a number of ways the president has been de-valued, ie the Obama chia pet. It's almost as if society, especially white America, just can't handle a black president unless they can "put him in his place," even if it's in these subliminal ways.

  13. This blog is a good example of political correctness gone haywire, and this post especially so.

    In this case the black anchor offered unsolicited advice to his white collegue and the audience, talking about black culture and generalizing without having been asked. Instead of pointing out the inappropriateness of presenting one's culture to be exoticized or of looking down upon someone else's culture because it's not yours; you produce an explanation wholly disconnected from what is observable. This is not about white people trying to make friends with black people at all: please wake up out of your ideological haze.

  14. Hello Butters. Please define "political correctness."

    Also, I can't understand why you don't see Kyra Phillips here trying to cozy up to "one of [her} favorite subjects," blackness (or rather, supposed blackness), a subject she initially broached by calling attention to what she calls Obama's "swagga." Seems to me that you may well be mired in an ideological haze, which blocks you from seeing that. But then, I don't know you, so I can't say for sure.

  15. Hi everyone...I absolutely love this blog!!
    I am a 31 year old married white guy who has a 16 month old adopted black child (I personally don't like the term African American because it qualifies what type of American you son is black, and he is American...I'm open to feedback on this)
    I've been reading this blog for about a month now and I really enjoy it. I find it helpful in my own journey in life as I am a strong advocate for justice.
    I believe everyone, no matter what race they are, should feel good about who they are and be proud of they're racial identity. That being said I am having a very difficult time with this because of what the term White means in our culture and the (very much undeserved) power associated with it. For me the change began from ignorant white person to trying to be an advocate for justice and truth when I started reading books on Native American history and discovering the truth that is sadly not taught in schools (because ignorant white people write the books).
    There have been times on my journey where I have had so much disgust with the color of my skin that I wished I could rip it from my muscles and bones. I hated being white! While that is not a healthy view to have of one's self I think it is an appropriate reaction to the truth if you are white.
    I am now ok with my skin color and am happy to report that I ripped none of my skin off!
    I am healing and becoming ok with what it means to be white in America and interested in how white folks can use their (undeserved) influence and power to build bridges between "white" and every other non-white group in America.
    Sorry, that was a pretty long winded intro. I do actually have a point relevant to the CNN posting:

    I think the posting was a little over the top to what was actually being said...I think it's great that we (Americans) are finally having open discussions about race. Now I absolutely agree that it is wrong to assume a group of people act a certain way based on one or two individuals, but I really didn't get the sense that Kyra was being that inapropriate. Is she ignorant? Probably. But one thing we need to realize is that I'm guessing they had rehearsed the conversation somewhat, I can't imagine the producers of the show would allow them to talk about whatever the hell they wanted, and T.J. was actually doing most of the talking. My take on the awkwardness was T.J. thinking to himself, "how the f*ck to I speak about this truthfully without pissing off the balding old white dudes that sign my paycheck." At least that's what I got from it.

    Thanks for the space to give my own 2 cents...and I am open to feedback from you...remember, let's all be loving and understanding of each other! Peace out.

  16. Derek - 1) Don't pull your skin off, son, that's creepy.

    2) - "African" American just acknowledges our heritage. Of course, the politics aren't that simple, but it's just a way of honoring our foreparents. Don't be afraid to use it.

  17. no1kstate, thanks for the info...I just had a hard time because we use terms like Asian American and African American, but if the term "American" is used my guess is that it's assumed (incorrectly) that the individual is white. But it does help to hear from you your take on it.
    It would be very creepy if I ripped my skin off, but that is the best, most accurate discription to my emotional reaction at the assured no self mutilation occured:)

  18. Derek - Go to hear! :D

    And you're right that American usually equals white. That's just another reason to stress African American. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in this area. I'm just saying you can use both African American and black interchangebly.

  19. macon is right that "white" is a made-up category (though it also seems like in some ways he treats it as if it were more substantive than that, eg., generalizing about "stuff white people do" itself would seem to take for granted that "white people" cohere as a group enough to justify generalizations about the "stuff they do."

    but what's really mysterious to me is this: what exactly is it this post implicitly denounces?

  20. Hi everyone...I absolutely love this blog!!
    I am a 31 year old married white guy who has a 16 month old adopted black child (I personally don't like the term African American because it qualifies what type of American you son is black, and he is American...I'm open to feedback on this)

    My sentiments exactly. I've never liked the term African American! First of all how the hell can someone just add a label on a group of folks defining their heritage? I don't remember voting for that crap. How the hell does anyone know MY ancestry? We're the only race in the world that's went thru so many labels in order to define who we are.

    For the record I've never been to Africa and neither has any of my family members. My forefathers have been traced back to Canada, China, and Europe. I refer to
    myself as black plain and simple.

  21. anon - so none of your ancestors, since say the 1500s, hail from Africa?

  22. Anon, if you consider yourself black, I seriously doubt the only places you've been traced back to are those previously mentioned. Africa is in the mix, rather you like it or not.

  23. I'm basing my comment on the video. The video starts with the black anchor talking about the absence of 'swagga' among American presidents. The white lady is simply responding to politely to his unsolicited advice, which amounts to an imposition of black cultural requirements upon the rest of humanity. To me this is just one instance among many of people presuming black people are 'cooler', and that white people are 'nerd'.

    There was also the matter of the black anchor saying 'this is just part of the culture'. He's offering up his culture to be exoticized, or at least making generalizations about it.

    I believe anti-racist extremists are caught in an ideological haze because they interpret everything narrowly. People give different meanings to different events, and instead of understand such richness they insist on force-fitting everything into their own model.

  24. Butters,

    White people have profited for many years marketing the "cool" factor of black folks. People are just people, but there are certain nuances specific to certain cultures. One of the nuances in Black America is a little swagger. I'm pretty sure it didn't start because they thought they were "cooler" than white people, I'm pretty sure it was more about having pride in yourself even though you weren't allowed to drink out of the same fountain as white people.
    Be a little more sensitive when throwing out comments...unless your ancestors were forced to this country and imprisoned to farm fields I don't think it's appropriate to say what you are saying.

    You are entitled to your opinion, but why would you spread more hate, don't you think there's enough in this world?

  25. @MANchild el at "Swagga" and President?

    @!&amp:# this is black culture?Recent quote from the [prominent] foil to the president;

    "You wear your hat one way you like to wear it, you know, kind of cocked to the left, you know, 'cause that's cool out West ... In the Midwest, you guys like to wear it a little bit to the right. In the South, you guys wear the brim straight ahead. Now the Northeast, I wear my hat backwards, you know, 'cause that's how we roll in the Northeast." RNC Chair Michael Steele, explaining hat brim angles to the "Morning Joe" crew. Another media site reports that TJ Holmes interviews, 4 other unidentified black** males to give expert swagga opinions on the President's style. (**prerequisite), obviously the rest of America can't really "get" the President without an interpretor.

    Mr. Steele, strikes me as having internalized the idea that his race (& a very narrow definition of what that means culturally) is the only thing he brings to his job. I very much doubt the idea for this segment on CNN originated with TJ Holmes. Black professionals know they will be perceived as 'different' and really don't feel a need to do special news segment on it.

    In Mr. Steel's case... maybe he should organize some focus groups on the demographic he wants to reach,whatever that might be, & how they are responding to his "down with the kids" message.

  26. Derek, I don't understand you. Butters is showing a lack of "sensitivity" in pointing out that people who say things like "African Americans have more swagger" are making racist generalizations? But what he says is true.

    I can understand if you feel sensitive about seeing such notions debunked, because it sounds like you subscribe to them for some reason, but to tell him that he needs to stay quiet on such subjects unless he can document that his ancestors had been kidnapped into slavery is an attempt to intimidate him into acquiescence and silence--on this point, he'd do well to resist you to the end. Butters is correct that the man in the video makes a lot of self-congratulating comments that are also grounded in essentialist notions of what being African American means; he might also point out that the anchor then patronizes him in her response just before they "hug it out." It's all so contrived, and Butters is right to call it down. Calling him a hate-monger for voicing such perceptions is just too obnoxious to even address.

    By the way, as a black man, I can't stand it when others hold forth on the subject of my alleged "swagger." Swagger is something I associate with George Bush, whom I believe once boasted that "swagger" was a quality shared by all Texans. It's a word more germane to Bush than Obama, I think, in that it describes a gait that projects a kind of cocksure and thoughtless egotism. It's no great distance from the blaxploitation images of the 1970s to this tale some people like to tell about Obama and his supposed swagger ... but when I watch my president, I see an educated, thoughtful, humane, meditative, and calm man, not this swaggering fool described in commentaries like the one in the video, but then I suppose we all may see different things as we take measure of our public servants.

  27. @dilettante - I completely agree with you. I'll add that it's clear that Steele is trying to reach out to the black community on behalf of the GOP. He's just going about it in a sort of embarrassing way.

  28. anon - so none of your ancestors, since say the 1500s, hail from Africa?Not to my knowledge. And if I had proof, give ME the opportunity to place a label on myself- not a label in which other folks feel comofortable in giving me!

  29. I find it embarrassing that T.J. Homes would participate in this conversation.
    First of all, take that "swagga" off the bottom of the screen. That's another thing white people always to: spell things differently when black people say them, and then go overboard trying to mimic the way we talk. When I say "swagger" it may sound like "swagga" but in my mind I'm saying "swagger," so to spell it "swagga" is just degrading in my opinion. And it just makes me sick to heare white ladies try and talk like black men. It's like a 1920s minstrel show.

    And, I'm so sick of the "black people are so cool" thing. No we're not. I mean, I am, but not because I'm black.

  30. Anon, if you consider yourself black, I seriously doubt the only places you've been traced back to are those previously mentioned. Africa is in the mix, rather you like it or not.It’s not the point of me liking it or not. It’s the point that this country (again) defining who we are. IMO the name African American is synonymous with the word immigrant. A white person born in this country is called an American. Although that person may be able to trace his/her roots back to Germany, Poland, or Ireland, they are still called Americans. I was BORN in this country.

    Now as to what I prefer, I prefer to be called black just as many whites in this country prefer to be called white.

    My point is, there are too many nationalities running thru the blood of black people to be defined by one continent/country.

  31. @ Derek

    in my neck of the woods "black" is used most of the time. The thing about being called Black is that it was coined by black people, unlike negro and coloured which were forced on us. I'm glad you are educating yourself for your sake as well as the sake of your child.

    Also my problem with the CNN segment is not who initiated the convo it was the fact that this nonsense was considered appropriate for a news channel. I also find it inappropriate to associate the POTUS with rappers and street slang. As molecularshyness stated, things like this being on CNN make non blacks think this is an acceptable way to approach and address a black person.

  32. Anon,
    Black is also a label that was given to you. At least we as black americans (many/most)chose african american.

    Black, negro, colored, octoroon, mulatto, N-word--these were names that were thrusted upon us, Don't forget that. If you want to embrace black then fine, or better Black canadian, but don't act like you came up with it.

  33. Anon,
    Black is also a label that was given to you. At least we as black americans (many/most)chose african american

    Black, negro, colored, octoroon, mulatto, N-word--these were names that were thrusted upon us, Don't forget that. If you want to embrace black then fine, or better Black canadian, but don't act like you came up with it.

    This is not an act at all. I don't know anyone in my social circles who agreed to be called African American. As a matter of fact everyone that I personally know shares the same views as I do.

    As I stated before I prefer to be called black. As for your statement about most black Americans choosing to be called African American, please cite your references

  34. I'm a black American and I have a slight preference for African American. Most of the people I know don't care one way or the other. Either is just as acceptable. But lets get our history right. "Black" is a term that came about with the European discovery of Africa to contrast the Africans "black" to the Europeans "white." Hence, "negro" is very close to "black" in all of the romance languages. "African American" is a term the came out of the Civil Rights/Black Power movement.

  35. "African American" is a term the came out of the Civil Rights/Black Power movement.___________________________________

    Again cite your references. This term was originated by the US Census Bureau. The Civil Rights movement had nothing to do with it:

    "...Since 1977, in an attempt to keep up with changing social opinion, the United States government officially classified black people (revised to black or African American in 1997) as A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.[5]"McKinnon, Jesse. "The Black Population: 2000 United States Census Bureau"

  36. One of the Anonymi is right that African American did not come out of the Black Power/Civil Rights movements. It was BLACK that came out of those movements. Prior to that time, to call a Negro "black" was to insult that person. There was a move to claim the word black (the opposite of "white"), so as to label our own selves. James Brown sang, "Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud."

    As an intra-racial (American and Caribbean) American born and raised black person, I've got to say that I do not like, neither do I describe myself as, nor respond to, African American. There is something arrogantly American about describing all blacks as African American. I do understand, given how cruelly we have been, and are, treated by the majority whites in these united states, the need for some bit of pride, or to be on the same level as all those other hyphenated Americans (usually their hyphens are with specific countries, not an entire continent, for the entire African continent is not black African), but for me I find it to be a silly exercise, and I refuse to participate in it. Now, I do not begrudge other blacks who have jumped on board the African American bandwagon, but I've got to tell you that I am sick and tired of them cramming their "political correctness" down my throat and expecting me to join their moniker cult. To them I say, "You all can kiss my black ass."

    Also, I have yet to have another black, in any face-to-face interaction, since this African American name change occurred, to ever use it in conversation. All of the black folks whom I know do not use it--in talking and thought.

  37. When Sidney Poitier was given his honourary Oscar a few years ago, he was described as the "first African American to win the leading male Oscar." What? Sidney Poitier is an immigrant to the U.S. He was born on, I think, one of the Bahamian islands. Even if he is an American citizen now, this name change to African American from black, disappears who he is culturally. I think that black is better, because it encompasses all of the people who are descendents of those kidnapped black Africans who were brought to this hemisphere to provide slave labour for the white European imperialists.

  38. "in an attempt to keep up with changing social opinion"

    That changing social opinion was the Black Power movement.

    I use as reference years of study and a degree in history. But since you seem to be sincere, here's John McWhorter -

    "We are not African to any meaningful extent, but we are not white either - and that is much of why Jesse Jackson's presentation of the term "African American" caught on so fast. It sets us apart from the mainstream. It carries an air of standing protest, a reminder that our ancestors were brought here against their will, that their descendants were treated like animals for centuries, and that we have come a long way since then."

    You may agree with his larger opinion. I don't. But his facts are generally on point. (By the way biker - Jesse Jackson, Black Power Movement).

    Use whichever term you like and afford others the same. I only disagree with the rejection of either one or the other. "African" is a quick nod from my ancestors, and I guess I do have the "benefit" of knowing that one great-grandmother who can off a slave boat and was named Mariah. But that's as far as could be traced cause every woman coming off the boat was named Mariah.

    And, biker, the reason "black" is used in dialogue vs "African American" is more that is easier to say than anything political. I use "black" when I'm speaking to. But when I'm writing, I use both terms interchangebly.

    Oh! And in regards to the few articles I read through looking for a source, I understand the impulse to differentiate between recent African immigrants and descendents of slaves, but at the end of the day, we're phenotypically similar, all have ancestors of African origin, and all face institutional anti-African/black American bias.

  39. In regards to Sidney Poitier, blacks in Caribbean are often referred to as Afro-Caribbean, or Afro-Cuban, Afro-Dominican, etc and so on. Afro-Brazillian.

    There's nothing wrong with either African American or black.

  40. To Anonymous,

    Can you please provide more clarity to what you are talking about in regards to:
    "I can understand if you feel sensitive about seeing such notions debunked, because it sounds like you subscribe to them for some reason"

    Perhaps I misunderstood what Butters was saying. What notions do you think I am subscribing to "for some reason"?

    Thank you.

  41. All this Black vs. African American discussion is great. Thank you for all of your insights.

  42. I don't think my comment was insensitive. My ancestors were not brought to any country as slaves, but there's nothing I can do about that, and I shouldn't have to demonstrate that they were to make a point. The anonymous man who came to my defense (thank you, btw) was correct that to expect me to have enslaved ancestors to talk about these issues is an attempt at intimidation.

    Oh, and I'm a woman :)

  43. Hi Butters,

    I did not mean to attempt to intimidate you and if you felt intimidated I am very sorry.

    I guess my whole point was that the so called swagger that black people supposedly have has been marketed to white audiences and white executives have been profiting from this so called swagger or "cool" factor. It's just another way blacks have been pigeon holed and it ain't right. That's all I'm saying and I may not have made that very clear in my comment to you, which after reading again seems to be an over reaction on my part.

    By the way, why did you need to clarify your sex? Did I refer to you as a man? I don't think I did but I may be wrong.

  44. Okay Derek, Butters,

    I think we can straighten this out.

    Butters, it's not clear who between TJ and Kyra initiated the conversation. It's clear, though, the CNN producers ok'ed if, it not ordered it, and propogated the exoticization you're appropriately disgusted with.

    Derek, you may have misunderstood Butters's orginal comment. Though I disagree with her jab at anti-racists, I think she thought TJ brought up the convo when I'm not exactly sure if he did. Or, if he did make a throw-away comment in an earlier segment about Obama's "swagger" (and for the most part, I'm pretty sure the "swagga" spelling probably came from mainstream rap), I feel confident he didn't intend for it to go this far. But, again assuming he made what he thought would be a throw-away comment about Obama's swagger, and he certainly has it, that's why Don Lemon is the regular anchor not TJ. Plus, Don has that non-threatening babyface.

    In regards to the comment about ancestors as slaves. It's a regular part of "race discussion etiquette" that white Americans not judge the sensitivity of black Americans. I think that's what Derek was responding to, Butters, you're judgement of supposed anti-racist/black oversensitivity. Of course, as with other "double standards," blacks are allowed to make comments about how overly sensitive they feel other blacks are. But even that will be met with rejection, if not a comment about one's ancestor's status as slave or free.

    And truth be told, I was once in a group discussion about Southern history, and a white guy said he doesn't think we should harshly judge slaveowners and slave traders because they were just a product of their time and culture. What I really meant to say was that even then, there were sufficient numbers protesting slavery that I feel it's fair to judge and judge harshly. But, I couldn't remember anyone in particular off the top of my head. But! I knew with absolutely certainty that the slaves themselves protested. So the guy's comment caught a swift smackdown with, "Unless you're a slave or the descendent of a slave, I really don't think you're qualified to make that decision."

    All right? Are we all cool now? If Butters has issues with anti-racist, and I strees if, there may be subjects on which the two of you will disagree. I don't think this has to be one.

  45. Why I'm having second thoughts about black is we people of african descent are not the only people with black skin, dravidian indians do and so do native australians, so I'm leaning more towards the African prefix it is more specific.

  46. Saying that maybe even African isn't specific enough considering there are non-blacks predominantly in the north of the continent.

    Regarding the video that dap was cringe making.

  47. Hey regarding the last comment and the Black vs. African American debate. That is exactly why African American as a moniker caught on. Most black Americans can't point to a specific country and those that can, usually do. One of my good friends is a Kenyan. She is not an African American or a Kenyan American, she either calls herself African (not black) or Kenyan. I totally respect that.

    I use African American as an ethnic group that other blacks can join if they wish. I use it because I have met blacks all over the world and I am not nor are my ancestors black Canadians, Caribbeans, black Europeans, Afro-Brazilians, etc. I think it's important for people all over the world to know that black people belong to various ethnic groups and maybe that will help in distinguishing b/w an Nigeria, Kenyan, Somalian and a Ghanan. Very different people and cultures. If I can see white people as Irish, French, Scottish and German then recognize that I'm not Brazilian, West Indian, Canadian or Columbian. Many are, I am just not one of them.

  48. @ Derek

    It's all right, no need to apologize. I didn't feel intimidated, but I don't think one should have to prove one's ancestors were enslaved in order to speak about things.

    I clarified my sex because an anonymous man referred to me as 'he'.

    @ no1kstate

    I agree that White Americans should not judge African Americans' level of sensitivity, but in this case I (a non-White, non-American) was judging the sensitivity of a white male :P Not that judging is necessarily okay, but that piece of etiquette is not really relevant here.

  49. Butters - Great. Just trying to keep the peace. And . . . just again, but, I quick and perhaps erroneous assumption is that most black people here are descendents of slaves. Per our discussion on black vs African American, that's not always the case. But, it wasn't so much about your ancestory as it is about your racial affiliation. I guess.

  50. The fantastic piece in all of this is that WE ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF!! Which is a necessary precursor to social change. Praise God! I feel good about the fact that we can argue, disagree, whatever you want to call it, and still respect one another and feel ok to express our selves openly and honestly.
    Like I said in my long winded intro, I am just beginning my journey out of mindless ethnocentric power hoarding white guy syndrome (MEPHWGS) and God knows I'm gonna make mistakes along the way...but I want to change, and I need you guys to hold me accountable for my mistakes so I can continue to change. Thank you and PEACE.

  51. Butters and Mandy you are both full of crap!! And for your info 'butters' she's not some 'helpless/dainty' white female the big black buck 'forced' himself on she asked him a question[a very stupid one] and the conversation went downhill from there. And please when the HELL have you EVER had to worry about your culture being co-opted or anything?!! You can see the remnants of gloriousness of your 'culture' every damn day!

  52. Hey Macon:

    That video was uncomfortable to watch. When I see how TJ entertained that BS, it just reminds me of how I really need to work on my professional decorum. If I were him, I would've said "I can't entertain such foolishness," and next up would've been a commercial break.

  53. no1skate:
    You insist on African-American as "acknowledging" your/one's "heritage." That's cool; your choice. But I'm just wondering, what about black people (who by nature, must have at least one African ancestor somewhere up the line) whose ancestors made a stop along the way? For example, if one's more recent ancestors were, say, Caribbean, does "African-American" still make sense? What about their distinctly Caribbean heritage? What if one's parents were black Europeans? For the first several decades of the African diaspora, slaves were being sent everywhere BUT the States. What about their now-American descendants? I'm just sayin, I'm not sure it's a good idea to tell people that's the best/safest term to use.

    While I'm on the subject: When, exactly, does heritage-based-hyphenation wear off, anyway? I've known many (many) self-identified "Irish-Americans" whose ancestors arrived here 160 freakin years ago, kissed the ground, and never went back. Shit, they've never been there! And I've also known freshly-minted citizens who vigorously refer to themselves as "Americans."

    I've often wondered why, if the US is a nation of immigrants, does "American" not encompass that? In other words, almost every American "came from" somewhere else; why doesn't the meaning of the word encompass that fact? As far as I'm concerned, there are only 2 sensible subcategories of Americans (if that): natives and non-natives.

  54. I don't tell anyone what to use. As far when it wears off - maybe never.

  55. I saw that segment on CNN with Philips and Holmes. I am a Black man and I never heard any of my Black friends use that word, as a matter of fact I didn't hear that word, until I heard it used in the media describing President Bush's style. It was spell "Swagger" when they used it to describe Bush's style. We may take a word and replace the "er" with "a," but it still does not make it Black culture. When will Whites and Blacks realize that we are all Americans, and that changing the spelling of a word does not make the culture of any particular group in this country. For example, JAZZ MUSIC is American music started by Black people born in America. It's all American, just like Blacks born here, we are all American, no matter how hard we try to distinguish ourselves from others.

  56. I agree with many of you about Americans (black) being labeled African Americans. To be called African American is one who was born in Africa and became a naturalized citizen. They are African American. However, my people have been here since day 1 of this county's inception. Therefore, why is it that some blacks want to refer to themselves as African when it's obvious what their the ancestral heritage is? I don't see white America referring to themselves as Irish American, Italian American, or English American. However, I do have an issue with the term "ALL AMERICAN." What does is mean considering it's a term rarely if ever used for non-white Americans?

  57. blatant and retarded rip off of stuff white people like.

    you lose.

  58. Hey, bugsteve. Don't hate. If there's one thing white people like to do, it's ripping other people off!

    Southeast Asia

    You get the point.

  59. dude im black and mexican and white so not everybody is all black!!!!!!!!!!!! its very rayer to have all black in you even if u look black ur not all the way black

  60. I had similar responses when I came out. Suddenly I was supposed to explain all of LGBT culture & bedroom behaviors to a bunch of relative strangers because I was a member of a minority community.


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