Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hollywood Shuffle - Black Acting 101

As a black kid of the 80's who rode a skateboard and fully enunciated his curse words, I'm a grizzled old veteran when it comes to having my "blackness" continuously questioned - a ritual that began at Kempsville Jr. High School to be exact. Kids who couldn't tell you a black history fact if you held an oozy to their collective temples felt I was a race traitor because I had a penchant for kick-flip ollies and backside wall rides - my colloquialisms gave the few black kids in my school the belief that I'd be the snitch if there ever was a race war. Despite my fondness of being born with melanin, the tons of black history books that I digested with ease like they were comic books, my life-long dedication to Hip Hop, the teachers that I continuously challenged whenever they came out of their mouths sideways concerning race - not to mention all the black girls who had "first dibs" on my heart(all 7 of them). But at the end of the day, I was "trying to be white" because I rode a skateboard and pronounced the "er" at the end of the word "motherfucker".

Unfortunately, not much has changed over the last 20 years. From that white dude I met this past weekend who thought that taking on a black persona involved crotch grabbing and murdering the English language as frequent as humanly possible, the Clear-Channel minstrel show that many rap artists perform nowadays, and the mass amounts of black chicks who won't come within a square mile of my penis because I loathe Tyler Perry - if that's what it means to be "black", I think I'll pass. Remember back when shows like "In Living Color" would joke about how "white" Bryant Gumbel was simply because of how he spoke? But on B.E.T they've been setting the race back with it's deplorable broadcasts for more than a decade now. Not for nothing, but I feel that Paul Mooney should revise his Chappelle Show statement. "Reginald Hudlin and Robert Johnson make Bryant Gumbel look like Marcus Garvey!!"


wynsters the tigress said...

but how do you deal with it?

The Bear Maiden said...

DUDE! YOU ROCK! You just won me over. Lock stock and barrel.

See the thing was, we spoke "Standard American English" (read, "talked white") in the house, but outside we spoke patois. My mother banned us from saying things like "Cho, mahn, mi kyan stan'yu laughin!" or "G'lahng, nuh?" or referring to ourselves as "pickney!" cuz um, she didn't know what the hell we were saying. Then, when we were forced back to the 'hood, and had to learn the new language (Ebonics? Harlemese?) it was only natural that we do what we did "inna yard"... switch back and forth depending on who we were talking to. Something I still do, today. So I never got teased for "sounding white" at I.S. 201, thereby avoiding that particular butt-kicking. There were plenty other reasons I got my butt kicked--like being smart/the teacher's pet/"actin' white" but talking white wasn't one of them. But I too, knew more about where I came from than any one of them. Still do! "I challenge thee to a duel!"

FWIW, I HATE BET. And I used to work there. I cried the first day and quit 4 months later. And I refuse to watch it cuz I think it adds to us looking at ourselves as pimps and bitches. And I'm not a huge fan of Tyler Perry, either. Or those blaxploitation Novels that are flooding 125th street. "But at least she's reading!" they say.

Hmph. What's wrong with reading Dumas, or Pushkin, maybe even Shakespeare??? They're Black Authors, too, you know.

Thembi said...

My hoodrat-ish jumpoff asked me why I don't perm my hair even though I 'talk white' and like white guys sometimes. Good logic, but somehow foolish although I cant explain why.

The way I deal with it - I teach grammar and relish in correcting little white kids as to which verb form to use. Times like that you gotta ask what Roscoe Lee Browne would do, ya know?