“You know, it’s not the world that was my oppressor, because what the world does to you, if the world does it to you long enough and effectively enough, you begin to do to yourself.” James Baldwin
A long time ago, I was at an exclusively Black party and after we’d exhausted all the at-the-time hip and modern Black topics, then tackled the past and future, we all just found ourselves sitting around looking at each other.
Finally, some brave soul ventured to ask the lot of us, “Does anybody here watch Seinfeld?”
Quick, suspicious eyes flashed around the room. Some other courageous individual eventually returned volley with “I do.”
Then it was on.
It turned out everybody watched Seinfeld—or at least, everybody that had the courage to speak out. See, a funny thing had happened. The criterion had reversed itself. Since Seinfeld was now watched by those who seemed to be the cool Black people, or at least, the majority, not watching Seinfeld might have been enough to call one into question.
And as anybody Black who has differing or independent tastes can attest, being called into question by Black people is never pleasant.
I’ve said this before, but I think that the reason that so many of us are held hostage in our tastes and our interests is because, unlike white people who by curving the measure of IQ towards their tastes, interests and history and therefore can feel free to be amazed by things they don’t understand, Black people, who predictably aren’t as enthused about white tastes, interests and history, subsequently develop early an intellectual inferiority complex, causing the things that we don’t understand to frustrate us.
It becomes a self-fulfilling negative prophecy of circular logic; we don’t understand things because we’re dumb and we’re dumb because we don’t understand things.
The problem arises, however, when we insist that everyone who shares our skin share this paradigm; when we qualify “Blackness” by its alleged limitations.