When I was growing up, “acting Black” was synonymous with acting ignorant, slow, uncultured and uncivilized. What’s crazy is that all Black people should have known even then that this was wrong. “Acting Black” is only a problem when you’re Black and you’re doing it. If you’re white and you’re “acting Black” your behavior could very well lead to fun and profit.
I just watched Cadillac Records yesterday and I recalled—as if this ever has to be drawn back into my memory—how Elvis Pressley became, for all intents and purposes, “the King of Rock & Roll” simply by “acting” like Chuck Berry. The Rolling Stones “acted” like Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Willie Dixon. And Dusty Springfield “acted” like Etta James.
Of course, even when you imitate something ridiculous that a Black person has done, if you’re white, it could end up ok.
David Letterman was able to make jokes at his own expense when his Tiger Woods-like behavior with female staffers was uncovered. Heck, Letterman was even able to successfully sue for blackmail that man that had threatened to bring his boorish behavior to light.
When Peyton Manning refused to shake hands with the winners after his Indianapolis Colts lost the Super Bowl to the New Orleans Saints, some commentators went as far as to suggest empathy for Manning’s pain. These were clearly not the same dudes that nearly crucified LeBron James when he left the floor after refusing to congratulate the Orlando Magic team that beat his Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Lastly, it probably would have been too much to expect Twitter to light up with the word “cracker” the way that the “N-Word” lit it up in the wake of Kanye West’s famous stage-stealing moment when he protested Taylor Swift’s VMA award by snatching the mic from her and ranting like a cocaine-fueled zombie about Beyonce, but when the fat, white, purple-clad Elinor Burkett pulled the exact same stunt on Roger Ross Williams during Sunday Night’s Oscars, I don’t want to say that it was celebrated, but it definitely wasn’t criticized.
Williams, Oscar winner for the documentary Music by Prudence, was onstage giving his speech when the big, Barney-dressed broad—who because of a dispute, had been virtually removed from the project in every capacity except associate producer—bumrushed him took the mic and started spittin’.
Elinor Burkett is now being regarded in some circles with an interest that borders on enthusiasm.
Should anyone be surprised?