Wednesday, September 08, 2010

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A BIG BLACK GUY...















I'm not writing this as a complaint, or an indictment of White people, skinny people, rich people, female people or as a condemnation of anything. This is just an observation of how I see the world based on my experiences.

It's not a stretch to say that we live in a shallow, narrow-minded and materialistic society. People on TV barely resemble human beings anymore considering the fact that the majority of celebrities today have had weight-loss procedures, botox injections and more plastic surgery than Cher. I hear folks saying certain actors and actresses are "beautiful" but to me they look like deformed action figures.

*NOTE* - Watch any TV show from the 1970s-early 1980s and see how much the celebrities then looked like your neighbor.

Anyone with a cursory knowledge of American social history will know that Black folks in the Western world have gotten the short end of the stick (hell we used to get beaten with that same stick) and that's putting it mildly. Sure, there have been many advances across the socio-political and economic spectrum, but the bottom line is that a lot of non-Black people seem to be very uncomfortable with the presence of Black folks -- and in particular -- Black men in social spaces.

For example: A few nights ago I was leaving work at Barnes & Noble and walking to the bus stop. On this particular evening I had to go to a late-night pharmacy which is about two blocks further than I would normally go.

Two fairly ridiculous things occurred during this short jaunt: 1) A Middle-eastern couple walking toward me jumped out into the street rather than pass me on the sidewalk. At first I thought that there might have been a reason -- like dog poop or a hole -- but there wasn't.

About another block down, an Asian woman was walking toward me and when she saw I was approaching her SHE WALKED INTO THE STREET (where there was traffic behind her) instead of walking past me on the sidewalk.

Now, I have dealt with this kind of thing for the last 20 or so years since I have become an adult and racist fear of Black men is nothing new, but it really gets to me how people can give someone else so much power over their decision-making. Conversely, this doesn't help me because a lot of the people who might be afraid of me usually are the people that control the jobs in the industry where I would like to work.

It's not just me being BLACK, but I am also 6'2" and overweight (but I've lost 70lbs since January!!!) and this means I not only get the racist reaction from people, but I also get the whole anti-fat thing which is a nasty double-whammy and it makes life very un-fun.

Living in L.A. is tough when you're big and Black. This place is not only shallow, vapid and simple-minded, but its also deeply segregated along race and class lines and things are getting worse.

So I sat down and thought about all the ways it sucks being a big Black guy in our world today. I don't care if you agree or not or if you believe me or not. Just understand that this IS the way it is.

Being a Big Black Guy means...

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people automatically assume that you're dumb, lazy or dirty.

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that you'll never get the benefit of the doubt on anything you say. Folks will assume that you're making things up or you're in error. This is funny because I never say anything that I can't back up with a book, website or some other verifiable source. The idea that Black guys go around making false and arbitrary statements about things that can be easily researched is another way that racist beliefs creep into our consciousness.

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that you'll never be invited to the "popular" parties and if you do go, expect to stand around looking at the walls because no one really wants to talk to you unless they want to know about the cool new dances or the name of an obscure hip-hop song.

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that no matter how nice you are, or how cool you are, never expect to be fully accepted by people who are physically in good shape.

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that most people only become friends with those they wouldn't mind having sex with. Therefore, expect people to be nice to you, but not extend themselves to you like they would to those they wish to screw at some point.

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that people will go out of their way not to have conversations with you. Case in point, there's a woman at my job who has never had an actual conversation with me. I don't care at all, but its interesting to note that whenever a new White guy is hired, this same woman talks to them all day long. I've also had people ignore me when I was talking to them and then claim "not to have heard me." I guess selective deafness is a recent health pandemic only in play when there are overweight people around.

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that you will get a nasty attitude from folks for no reason. More often than not, its because some Black guy did something to someone they knew at some point in time; which has nothing to do with you, but because you're Black -- which means that we all know each other and plot together in secret meetings -- you get the delayed rage and frustration meant for another guy.

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that you have to be very selective where you go for recreational activities. You can't just go to any bar or nightclub and expect to get in. And if you do get in, don't expect great treatment. Sometimes, you are limited in your choices, and if you expect to meet people and have a good time, your best bet is to pick the fat-people party circuit where there is less pressure to "fit in" with the vapid crowd.

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that when you do lose weight, its hilarious to watch how differently you are treated by the same folks who ignored you when you were heavier.

I know that a lot of people will read this and not believe it or not care. F--k 'em is what I say.

Being overweight is something that I am working hard against, being Black is something that I love and would never be ashamed of under any circumstances. I just wish the mixture was as beloved as mixing chocolate and peanut butter.

Yes, I know, a food reference, I had to make at least one. LOL

B.

2 comments:

Tsynn said...

Part I:
First, let me proclaim before I keep writing, I'm the offspring of alcoholic Anglo-Saxon-Celts (yeah, what's with that?). And what I am about to write is not meant to be a "oh look at me, I'm pasty white and have experienced bad things toooo, so your points are null and void," but more of a nod, a noticing that on some level I can't define...I get it...at least one iota.

I come from the white Food-Stamp belt, you know, those WASPS who had fuck up parents, the ones who didn't manage to earn a swimming pool or work in an office (I have cousins on the other side of the caste fence, and boy, are they weird). So, yeah, when you are one of the FS zombies (my experience), you have a mother who tends bar, who doesn't read books; you have a father, divorced, who chain smokes, reads all the time, but is emotionally distant, and by the way, isn't Baptist in a southern state where Baptists are the only ones getting into Jesus-Heaven.

When you are the son of these people, and oh yeah, I love them--as fucked up as they are--, you are outcast. Again, not trying to compare who's more outcast, a long haired WASP wearing an Iron Maiden tee in the Baptist 80's of Arkansas, or a tall black male, I'm just nodding.

The nod really begins when you realize other WASPS see you as a Satanist because you have a copy of H.P. Lovecraft on top of your math book in high school. You are seen as a faggot due to your long hair and called "honey" by your chewing tobacco addicted P.E. coach who stares far too long at the ass of ANY female teacher; you are judged as unholy by your art teacher (let me say again, ART teacher) because, hell, let's be honest, wearing a Black Sabbath tee while reading Stephen King doesn't do a poor WASP any favors (stupid of me to be a teen back then, should of chosen now what with Marilyn Manson tees worn everywhere).

Flash forward to college. I get in due to luck, I can't afford it, but I have to be there because I know I need it. I'm surrounded by tidy whitey frat guys wearing slippers, toting huge plastic beer cups; next to them is always, and I mean always, perfect Southern Baptist Melanie. You know Melanie, she's got a perfect tan, a socially acceptable laugh, perfect teeth, and wears odd cloths from perfume scented salons I can only imagine because let's face it, I would be snubbed out of such establishments (not that I'd want to be there, because, at that point in my life, I've had twenty years of being treated as a nobody, I've come to accept that I don't really matter).

These university colleagues of mine do arcane things at night that feature walking and singing at frat houses, getting dead drunk at the local beer garden, yelling obscene things at the top of their lungs, all the while snubbing their waitress or waiter and treating them like dirt while ordering more beer on the virtue of their parent's credit cards.

Tsynn said...

Part the Second:

Elevators are a nightmare.

You get in with one of those clones (you know, the Brads, the Melanies) and suddenly YOU hear the "rink-rink-rink" sound effect from the stabbing scene in Psycho, or perhaps the "cha-cha-cha-ah-ah-ah" sound from Friday the 13th because, even though your tee know read Depeche Mode instead of Ozzy Osbourne, you're lower caste, you belong in prison, or worse, on the back of a garbage truck (not that there is anything wrong with that, but the Bs and Ms of the world see that job as an absolute horror).

No words are spoken in that elevator, no eye contact with the Ms and Bs, no nothing. You are scum. And you ironically feel as though you need Izod shirts, floppy sandals, and a fucking haircut that doesn't scream: Megadeath.

In closing, the above makes no sense now that I look at it. Just the ramblings of a fool. But your post struck a cord in me down deep, down in Jon Stewart land; and down there I saw a thing that still exists in the dark...though I be 46 years and aging, a thing that says to me: You, my friend, have been cast as something that should not be.

Thanks for making this WASP feel on a terrible Tuesday morning.